Personal Essays

By Joy C. Ashford

Goodbyes in G Major

With or without a metronome, I can’t help but measure time in music.

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To 'Fleabag,' With Grief

I started “Fleabag” at the beginning of quarantine last March, and, suddenly faced with very little to do, I binged it with a fervor. I laughed, smiled, and gasped my way through two seasons of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s brilliant portrayal of the show’s eponymous protagonist, a slightly unhinged, daringly witty, sometimes-narcissist. When I got to the end of the 12th and final episode of the show and Fleabag looked meaningfully into the camera one last time, I shut my laptop and burst into tears.

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Celebrity Saviors

When I first read “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I was genuinely convinced I was Lucy Pevensie. One time I sat on a swing set for hours, squeezing my eyes shut every time I hit the swing’s peak and willing myself away to Narnia. Once my feet left the ground, I was in limbo: whisked away to a snowy forest next to a lamppost, standing atop a frozen waterfall just before the ice began to crack.

The first time I listened to Dodie Clark, I felt the same way — like I’d found my grown-up fantasy world. I wanted to crawl inside her songs, to live in the universe of yellow flowers and smeared makeup and sunshine the next morning she created. But this time, I devoured more than just the songs themselves. I devoured her life: the people she was friends with, her favorite playlists, the way she put little eyeliner dots under her eyes.

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