When I take a look back at my life so far, there is one song that proved to be a turning point. That song is “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves. Okay, well maybe its her whole Golden Hour album that took me on this amazing journey in a single night that changed my life completely. At the end of the journey, Musgraves closes with “Rainbow” and in that precise moment I knew everything was going to be okay.
Take a listen before, during, or after you read this. I’d love for you experience a little bit of what I go through every time I hear this song.
Last May, I was celebrating my graduation weekend from the University of Houston. My graduation was originally planned for the Friday morning of that weekend; however, due to heavy rain and the potential for flooding my ceremony was postponed until further notice. I wanted to spend the weekend at an Airbnb in Austin and have a nice getaway from my usual surroundings. I had planned this weekend with a specific group of close friends that I wanted to celebrate with. My boyfriend, my brother, his girlfriend, her best friend, my best friend from high school that flew all the way from London for my graduation, and one my best friends from work.
I wanted something small and intimate. At the age of 23, I had already so much time with big parties and lots of drinking and I knew that was something I didn’t want. I wanted an experience I could remember forever.
The rain and the flooding put a wrench into our plans, and I was upset that I had to wait to get the whole thing done with. I was even worried that Austin would be filled with rain too. I had been looking forward to this weekend for a couple weeks now, because I really wanted it to be memorable. With no new graduation date set, we decided to just head to Austin for the weekend.
On our drive up, we found out that my ceremony was scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Making it difficult to plan anything for Saturday night, because we would have to leave early Sunday morning.
University was an extremely difficult time for me. I had struggled throughout all of it and was severely depressed because of it. Or maybe I struggled because I was depressed. For my last two semesters, I had been mentally checked out and was ready to be done with the whole process. There was so much that happened in my life throughout my entire university experience that pushed me past my breaking point.
I struggled with heartbreak, my identity, my family, and my goals and dreams. My grades weren’t the best, and I was worried that I wouldn’t even make it to graduation. I had a habit of self-sabotaging myself and spent a lot of my college life abusing alcohol, drugs, and sex.
Rather than studying, I’d stay up late playing video games. The worst part was that I was doing everything knowing that it was going to turn out shitty for me, but I did it anyway. I would then proceed to beat myself up over it. Very self-destructive, I know.
But this weekend was to show that I had made it through all of that shitty-ness. I wanted it to be something memorable, something I could tell my kids or grandkids about someday, something momentous.
We took acid.
Well minus my boyfriend and best friend from school, they were there to take care of us, while most of us had our first psychedelic experience.
The night was amazing, filled with lots of laughter and amazing conversations. A lot of time staring at paintings too.
However, at one point I found myself just wanting to spend some time alone and just chill out. I let everyone know ahead of time that I was just gonna be outside for a while.
I had spent the weeks prior wanting to listen to Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour, but really never getting around to it. I had seen Musgraves on RuPaul’s Drag Race Allstars as a guest judge, and she had popped around videos on my social media; so, I figured I would check her out. I had never really liked country music growing up in Houston. I didn’t get the point of it, and the only song I knew of hers was “Follow Your Arrow” which is catchy but was still too country for me. However, after spending a couple years away during high school and my freshman year of college before moving back to Houston, country music had a nostalgic place in my heart.
I just had this otherworldly urge to give it a listen.
So, I went outside on the small patio. Sat in a cold, wet, metal chair under part of the roof so that I wouldn’t get wet from the light drizzle going on at 2 in the morning. It was cold, but I felt a warmth inside me. The backyard was slightly lit with outdoor string lights that connected to a large tree. I could look up and still see some stars between the clouds that were passing by. I queued up the album on my Pandora, put my earbuds in, pulled my knees into my hoodie, put my hood up, wrapped my arms around myself, and I just listened.
The album took me on the most amazing psychedelic journey, which if you’re a fan of Musgraves you know exactly what I mean. Her music videos alone are enough to understand.
It begins with “Slow Burn” which really helped set the tone of what I was in for.
Musgraves has a way of just capturing this energy with her music. And from the first line, I just related to every word she sang. Maybe it was the Texan in us, or that I immediately knew that this girl smokes weed. Whatever it was, I felt this instant, intimate connection with her. Near the end of the song already, this calmness had just washed over me. I could feel myself radiated with a slow, comforting warmth, that spread throughout my body, expelling the cold all around me.
“Old soul, waiting my turn
I know a few things, but I still got a lot to learn.”
For so much of my life, I had felt that I was constantly waiting for things to happen to me, or to get better. I was just waiting. It bothered me always and caused me to have many sleepless, frustrating nights as I had wished for my college life to be over. But for the first time, I was listening to someone that made me feel like it was okay to just take my time.
To open the album with this song, I knew that I just had to sit here and slowly enjoy everything that was about to happen.
I closed my eyes and allowed my mind to take me along this magical roller-coaster.
Now, I could go down the entire album and talk about each and every song by Musgraves, and how each song spoke to my very soul, but that’s a list of 13 songs which would just make this waaayy to long to read.
All I will say is that the songs on this album related to every single experience I’ve had in my life, and the emotions that these songs brought up put me very close to tears which made me so appreciative of everything that led up to that precise moment. At other times, I had the biggest smile on my face. In between songs, I found myself laughing.
My friends would come to check on me, but I would tell them I was good. I had never experience anything like this before. I have never been the most emotional person. I hated talking about feelings, and for a long time, I viewed feelings as irrational and useless to the human experience. I thought it made me weak.
I spent most of my life running away from my emotions. Telling myself to lock them all far away, deep down inside. I would eat my feelings away. I would drink my feelings away. I would fuck my feelings away. I would smoke my feelings away.
And, if you asked me if I was okay, I would smile and say:
But I knew deep down that wasn’t the case. Most of the time, my stored away emotions would boil over, and I would find myself either screaming in my car at the unfairness of life or crying myself to sleep.
For my entire college experience, I had been searching for this happiness that seemed just out of reach. I could catch glimpses of it, but I would always fall back in my depressive, self-hating state of mind. I struggled with loving myself. My weight had fluctuated extremely over the past 4-5 years due to my unhealthy relationship with my body and food.
But as I went through this album, song by song, all of that seemed to really melt away. Musgraves has such an ethereal tone to her voice that just resonates throughout your body, finding the parts of yourself that are in need of love
Its hard for me to put my actual acid experience into words, but my head was filled with colors that moved to each and every song. It was magic.
Finally, I had reached the last song, “Rainbow”. The piano at the beginning still sends chills down my spine. I’m listening to this song now as I write this, and I can feel the tears forming in my eyes. But I still have a stupid smile on my face.
I was struggling for so long. I was always waiting for things to get better. I would always just try to make it through each and every day.
“The struggle of staying above, the rising water line”
I felt that. It was like someone was reaching into my soul and pulling me out of this dark hole that I was living in for so long. Someone was showing me, telling me, that the rainbow was always with me. I just had to look out from my umbrella.
I had been fighting back tears for most of the album so far, and before the song was even half-way through, tears were forming at my eyes.
I didn’t want to hold back anymore, and I wanted to let it all go. Musgraves was telling to let it all go.
I opened my eyes opened the floodgates that had been keeping back all my trapped feelings over the past couple years.
The light drizzle had stopped. I could still feel droplets coming down from the roof. It was like this massive weight was being lifted off my shoulders. Musgraves was telling me that everything was going to be okay. The happiness that I had been searching for, longing for, hoping for, was already with me. I just had look for it.
It didn’t matter what I was going through, because all the difficulties I had been going through mentally and emotionally for the past 4 years were over. It was finally over.
The closing line:
“It all be alright”
I took out my earbuds, smiled, and wiped the tears from my face. I walked back inside and found my closest friends all crowded on the sofa, laughing and enjoying themselves. They asked me how it was, and I told them:
“I just get Kacey Musgraves, and she gets me.”
I smiled and joined them around the sofa. I was already changed. I looked at them all with such an appreciation. They were all there because they wanted to support me; they wanted to celebrate me. Because they loved me.
And if they can love me, then I must be capable of loving myself too.
I went to bed that night snuggled next to my boyfriend. I’d never felt so warm and accepted in who I was. It took me awhile to head to sleep, cause you know… acid, but I closed my eyes, all I could see were rainbows.
And I knew:
It would all be alright.