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the camera flashes make it look like a dream

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When I found old diaries from my childhood and my teens, they were covered in dust. I'm not just saying that for poetic effect, they were truly dusty with pictures drawn of first day of school outfits and inspirational quotes I used to retrace over and over to get me through doubtful moments. I'd practice my autograph and tape my guitar picks to the pages. In the entries, I daydreamed on paper and mused about who might ask who to the dance or how nervous I was saying the national anthem at the local rugby game. I frequently and drastically changed my opinions on love, friends, confidence and trust. I vented, described memories in detail, jotted down new song ideas and questioned why I would ever try to shoot for a career I had such a small chance of ever attaining.

 

But what shocked me the most was how often I wrote down the things I loved. Writing a new song, riding in the car with my mum, the purple-pink skies of the football field on the walk home, the one night in high school when none of my friends were fighting, the dazzle of opal necklaces I couldn’t afford gleaming from a department store jewellery case. I wrote about tiny details in my life in these diaries from a bygone age with such... wonderment. Intrigue. Romance. I noticed things and decided they were romantic, and so they were.

 

In life, we grow up and we encounter the nuanced complexities of trying to figure out who to be, how to act, or how to be happy. Like invisible smoke in the room, we wonder what kind of anxiety pushes you forward and what kind ruins your ability to find joy in your life. We constantly question our choices, our surroundings, and we beat ourselves up for our mistakes. All the while, we crave romance. We long for those rare, enchanting moments when things just fall into place. Above all else, we really, really want our lives to be filled with love.

 

I've decided that in this life, I want to be defined by the things I love- not the things I hate, the things I'm afraid of, or the things that haunt me in the middle of the night. Those things may be struggles, but they're not my identity. I wish the same for you. May your struggles become inaudible background noise behind the loud, clergies voices of those who love and appreciate you. Turn those voices up in the mix in your head. May you take notice of the things in your life that are nice and make you feel safe and maybe even find wonderment in them. May you write down your feelings and reflect on them years later, only to learn all the trials and the tribulations you thought might kill you... didn't. I hope that someday you forget the pain ever existed. I hope that if there is a lover in your life, it's someone who deserves you. If that's the case, I hope you treat them with care.

 

This album is a love letter to love itself- all the captivating, spellbinding, maddening devastating red, blue, grey, golden aspects of it (that's why there are so many songs)

In honour of fever dreams, bad girls, confessions of love on a drunken night out, Christmas lights still hanging in January, guitar string scars on my hands, false gods and blind faith, memories of jumping into an icy outdoor pool, creaks in floorboards and ultraviolet morning light, finally finding a friend, and opening the curtains to see the clearest, brightest daylight after the darkest night.

 

We are what we love.

This is Lover.

 

-

 

            The car pulled up at the drop off point and Lena swallowed thickly, her hands trembling in her lap as she drew in a shallow breath. Reaching over, Kara took her hand and squeezed it tightly, trying to be encouraging and confident, despite the slightly pesky look of anxiety on her face.

 

            “Are you ready?” Kara asked.

 

            Swallowing thickly again, her mouth dry with panic, Lena settled for a nod. It had been a couple of weeks since her interview had dropped, taking the gossip world and Hollywood by storm. Not only had her house in Metropolis been flooded with paparazzi, to the extent that she’d temporarily moved back to National City, staying with Kara at her rental instead of at her own home, but she’d been a constant source of conversation, from daytime news to gossip rags to front-page newspaper articles on different continents. 

 

            Already, talks of tour dates for the Lover tour that was planned were being contested, some countries cancelling the dates on account of the news, while her social media accounts saw an ongoing war between losing followers and then gaining more. It was terrifying, mystifying and exhilarating all at the same time, but neither of them had publicly appeared together yet. Not in such an official capacity, on a red carpet as wives.

 

            The door opened a moment later and Lena ducked her head as she climbed out of the car. Dressed in a pastel lavender ruffled mini dress by RaisaVanessa, her dark hair in a braided updo, Lena was greeted by the sound of her name being shouted and the first few cameras flashed as paparazzi swarmed to her.

 

            Taking a deep breath, she turned back to the car and held her hand out, watching as Kara’s tanned hand slipped into her own and she helped her out of the car. If her own first red carpet appearance since the news dropped hadn’t been enough to garner all the attention of every reporter, interviewer and photographer at the Billboard Music Awards, the sight of Kara joining her, in a matching lavender pantsuit, their rings flashing on their fingers, definitely did the trick.

 

            Trying to mask her panic with a cool look of indifference, Lena jerked her chin up and looped her left hand through Kara’s arm, diamond shining in the light, and walked forward. Instead of making straight for the red carpet to pose for photos, which she knew the photographers were eager for as they blinded the two of them with the nonstop clicking of their cameras, Lena made straight for the barricade of fans.

 

            Unlooping her arm from Kara’s, she took markers and sighed photos of herself, putting her back to the crowd to take selfies as she smiled widely, while Kara did the same beside her. Mercy and Rhea were there too, lingering back with Lena’s security guard, ensuring that everything went smoothly for their first public appearance.

 

            After ten minutes of back and forth and signing and selfies, Kara pressed her hand against Lena’s back and escorted her further in as other guests pulled up behind them. Stepping onto the red carpet before the black backdrop bearing the names of sponsors, they stood side by side, staring out at the sea of cameras.

 

            Lena didn’t even falter, looping her arm back through Kara’s as she raised her chin again, an almost smug smile twisting her lips as she stared out, knowing that everyone there was looking at them. And she didn’t care whether they envied her or scorned her, because she was standing there with Kara on her arm, both of the shuffling into position and then stepping further down the line for yet more photos.

 

            She’d thought that it would fill her with terror, that open vulnerability giving people the perfect chance to denounce her, to oust her from her position amongst her peers. Instead, it filled her with pride. Standing there, with her arm around Kara’s waist, pressed up against her wife, Lena didn’t feel small and afraid; she felt strong and loved, two things infinitely more powerful. And with that feeling came the sudden surprising knowledge that no one would be able to get rid of her; she was above this game now. She’d cemented herself as one of the greatest artists of her generation, up there with the most critically acclaimed musicians she’d always revered. 

 

            And slowly, ever so slowly, a smile crept across Lena’s face, knowing and amused until she was shaking with quiet laughter.

 

            “What?” Kara murmured, ducking her head down as she looked at her with amused adoration.

 

            “I just realised something,” Lena said, looking up at her as her eyes creased at the corners and she smiled widely.

 

            “Realised what?”

 

            “They can’t get rid of me, no matter how much they love me or hate me. They need me. Is that cocky to say?”

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh as she kissed the side of Lena’s head and squeezed her waist, Kara’s voice was quiet in her ear as she replied.

 

            “No, it’s not cocky; you’re right. You’re a story that they need to whisper about, and because of that … you’ll always be an icon. You’re going to be the stories they’re still telling in fifty years.”

 

            “And you,” Lena said with a smile, tilting her head in as she smiled for the cameras.

 

            They walked on another few feet and posed again, her hand on her hip and her hand around Kara’s waist. With a contented smile on her face, Lena looked up at her, her eyes bright with mirth and love.

 

            “Kiss me.”

 

            Pulling back slightly, Kara stared down at her for a moment to make sure she was certain before she lowered her head the extra inch needed to bridge the distance between them. Closing her eyes, Lena kissed her back as she smiled into it, starbursts of white behind her eyelids as the cameras and the shouts washed over them. 

 

            In that moment, it truly could’ve been a dream, but when she pulled back, she was met with her reality, her wife, and she could hear the stories already, the things that people would say about them one day.

 

            “You and I … we’re going to be folklore.”