I cried watching Pink’s MTV Video Music Awards performance.
I used to think that crying was for the weak. It was a thing you don’t need to do if your strong. Boys don’t cry. New Jerseyans don’t cry. But of course they do. Of course we do. And after an entire lifetime of varying illnesses, I’ve long given up on the idea that tears make you anything less than human. Sometimes you need a good cry. Sometimes you’re just an emotional mess and the only way to explain yourself is to have water fall out of your eye sockets.
Basically, this is all Pink’s fault.
Her emotional, heartbreaking Vanguard Video Music speech is what most people remember from the night, and it’s what they should. I hope her daughter forever holds her mama’s words to heart, because it was an incredibly special moment for those of us not related to her. I hope Pink is proud of everything she’s accomplished. I hope with those three minutes, she started a revolution.
The performance struck me just as much though, and not lease of all because Pink is one of my favorite singers. I think she’s a highly under-rated songwriter, a praised stage performer, and an all-around badass who doesn’t take no for an answer. She’s gritty, she’s real, she’s an East Coast girl. She’s not afraid to be vulnerable, and she’s not afraid to kick your ass, which I’m very sure she can do.
I cried because I thought of how lucky everyone in that audience was to get to see her perform live. I still haven’t been to one of her shows, which I’m pretty mad at myself for. There was always something: The tickets were too expensive. I was in the middle of one treatment or another. I was in New York when she was in LA, and vice versa.
I need to go to a live show, because her music has been with me through the years. Missundaztood helped me think high school might not be the end of the world. Funhouse got me through what was, in the same year that album was released, my worst breakup ever. Most importantly, The Truth About Love got me through radiation treatments.
I only listened to two artists during my chemo and radiation treatments, but their entire discographies at that: Jack’s Mannequin (and Andrew McMahon’s Something Corporate iteration) and Pink. Jack’s Mannequin helped me for the obvious reason: Andrew wrote many of the songs to deal with his battle with leukemia at 22, and the parallel to my fight with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 27 was impossible to miss. Pink was less on the nose, at least on the surface, but listening to her is kind of like listening to a friend you’ve never met but who can tell you everything you need to hear. It’s also like plucking thoughts out of your own brain and putting them to melodies. Plus, she’s just strong. Every fan knows this. And that’s what I needed. It’s what I still do. Now that I’ve had back surgery — because four medical conditions in one young lifetime could never be enough, so I like to just pile them on — I cry because I can’t dance like that on a stage (I mean, I never could, but now I physically can’t even if I wanted to). I could never perform circus maneuvers like a Cirque du Soleil master class. Hell, I have medical permission to never run again in my life because it could actually cause more harm than good.
I understand that Pink, like every other celebrity, is simply a person with a real life out of the spotlight. Putting individuals, whether they are in your daily life or seen through a screen, up on a pedestal is a little silly, at best, and irresponsible, at worst. They’re just people. But sometimes, you need one of them to be a little more. You need a representation, a lifeline, a symbol of hope. Sometimes you need to just fangirl out, which I’ve clearly done with these 700 words.
So I cry because of her talent and skill and ability to move. I cry because she has success most of us could only dream of. I cry because on most days I know I’m not living up to my potential. I cry because she’s inspiring. I cry because there’s hope. I cry because I fucking can.
I don’t believe Pink would think any less of me for it.