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Amazing still it seems, I'll be twenty-three

There was a time when I felt that every single dot of my life created an image of this song. That if you connect all the random moments, all the little parts of me, it would lead you to this song.

I can still vividly recall the first time I heard it. It was in high school, and like all the other bands I loved at that time, it was because of One Tree Hill. This was from the OTH Friends with Benefit soundtrack (which I had an actual copy of; I asked my parents to buy me one when they were in the US).

The moment I heard this song (track number twelve on the CD - yep, I remember) and its dizzying, cathartic one-and-a-half-minute intro, I knew I have found something. What it was exactly, I wasn't quite sure yet. Everything was just a masterful, wonderful melody entwined with words that sounded romantic and sweeping to me. I was sure it was special, but I didn't know yet why.

It easily became my favorite song just because it was titled 23. It was Nathan Scott's jersey number. And it really was nothing more than that. All my high school fangirl-y feelings condensed into one song, and one love that didn't even make sense, for a fictional character. Over the years, 23 had become many things to me. It meant so much to me as the years went on, because it was the score to what I thought was a great love, as defined by that show. (#Naley4ever!!) It sounds crazy and shallow now, but for a teenager with a lot of feelings, it made sense. It was the soundtrack to many other moments long after high school, to many other beers and coffees and hellos and goodbyes. It was the song of my "youth" -- that time of being young, of feeling insecure and scared but also invincible and courageous all at the same time. It was the dramatic montage pre-credits anthem of my being a teenager. 23 defined a chapter of my life; a time so far removed from my present.

The song hasn't changed. But the girl who first listened to it and once held it dear had.

I used to think this song was romantic. How the persona was claiming that no one else will have him like the lover did. How he was willing to throw caution in the wind; how he was inviting her to take the leap with him because it was now or never. At 15, I had wanted a love that will sing me this. A love that will make me sing this. A love that will invite me to just close my eyes, take a deep breath, and just be.

At (almost) 23, I believe I've found that love. It took me a lot of tears, a lot of defeats, a lot of bloodied warfare. But I finally found the person who was meant to sing me this song: me.

The courage to find and fight my dreams and demons (sometimes they felt like the same thing), the audacity to carry on -- it had to come from myself. And now I'm here: learning to love what I do, accepting what I am capable of. Appreciating the turmoil that got me here; acknowledging the calmness that makes me stay. Realizing the immense gratefulness I have for the people around me. Embracing the new love I've found again for myself.

Funny now how soon, 23 will no longer be just a song, or a number. It will become me.

Amazing, still it seems.


i'm here, i'm now, i'm ready
holding on tight