read this while listening
I took my love and I took it down.
As Holly began singing, Brittany focused her attention on Santana, openly staring at her best friend and quickly forgetting that anyone else was in the room. This is really happening; she’s really going to sing this with me. She looks so beautiful but also nervous, and a little scared. I wonder if she thinks I look the same way.
I climbed a mountain and I turned around,
Brittany’s attention continued undivided until Santana returned her gaze. Momentarily breathless as Santana shyly mouthed, ‘Hi,’ Brittany instantly recalled a thousand small, similar greetings recited at recess with an extended pinky, before practices with a welcoming hug, at parties with a devilish smirk, before a kiss with a giddy smile and after waking up together naked for the first time in the same bed with an unguarded but longing happiness. Brittany mouthed back, ‘Hey,’ already nearly at tears with adoration.
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills,
Uncharacteristically serious and concerned by the vast implications of the moment, Brittany watched as Santana studied her face and steeled herself with a deep breath. For as nervous as Brittany felt, she could only concern herself with how Santana was feeling. I wish I could make her feel less scared somehow.
Where the landslide brought me down.
I love her so much, Brittany thought, searching Santana’s face. She picked such an amazing song. I wonder if she means all of the words – if this is how she truly feels.
Oh, mirror in the sky,
Despite feeling Brittany’s gaze upon her, Santana remained fixed looking down at her own lap, silently collecting herself as she swayed with the music. Her thoughts reverted back to all the times Santana laid on her bed, staring at the ceiling and contemplating the complicated depth of her friendship with Brittany. Always unwilling to sort through her own feelings, Santana had consistently told herself a lie that her heart knew was false.
What is love?
For so long Santana convinced herself that she was above love, that love was for careless idiots, or that she didn’t even believe in it at all. Santana had never understood what people were talking about when the talked about love – having never felt that she could possibly love Matt, Finn, Caleb, Sam or even Puck, who she actually liked. The breathless heartache she felt when she was with Brittany however, frightened her and she locked the feeling away deep inside.
Can the child within my heart …rise above?
Santana had come to that breaking point in her life where she could no longer control her emotions or deny her feelings like she had previously been capable; they were now too big and too strong to ignore. Ever since she shared her first kiss with Brittany at Puck’s party their freshman year, Santana had cloaked her heart in denial – pretending both to herself and to Brittany that their intimate actions were simply fun, harmless and purely friendly. The pebble of a lie had grown into a mountain of deceit.
All the tiny instances over the previous few months of wanting to be braver for herself had built up to this moment, and Santana wondered if she could finally be courageous enough to accept her feelings; to be mature enough to stop pushing them away and truly, honestly deal with them. Santana took one final breath before the girls joined Holly on the last two words of the line.
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Being in love with Brittany, Santana recognized, was something that she had known about herself for a long time, but was also something she refused to accept about herself for equally as long. Over the past few weeks especially, Santana began to understand that refusing that fact was now more difficult than dealing with it. Turning her head to meet Brittany’s eyes, Santana made up her mind to finally confess the truth to Brittany, to admit her love for her best friend. As she traced over Brittany’s face, another thought soon followed. If I accept that I love her, does that meant I have to accept that I’m a lesbian as well?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Could I handle accepting that? Could I deal with accepting that for the rest of my life? As if she had actually spoken the question out loud, Santana watched Brittany’s features furrow in response. Brittany was listening so incredibly carefully that Santana thought the girl looked on the verge of tears simply from concern. Santana reckoned that she had never witnessed her best friend act so intensely serious, so cautiously calm and wholeheartedly present as if this moment was the most important one of her life.
All three singers harmonized together as Brittany kept her stare fixated on her best friend. Santana looked forward, sweeping over the faces of her classmates as she begged herself not to cry in front of them. Worried, she wondered exactly how much of herself they could see.
Well, I’ve been afraid of changing,
Quitting her attention on her classmates, Santana leaned forward to peer around Holly in order to sing the lyrics to Brittany. Santana realized the fear of losing her best friend by not engaging in their current dialogue had finally outweighed her fear of losing Brittany by admitting the terrifying truth of her quiet, desperate love. Santana had figured that by not discussing her feelings, she would get to keep Brittany close under the guise of meaningless physical intimacy. But recently, Brittany had demanded that they vocalize what had remained unspoken for so long and Santana now worried that by not participating, Brittany’s exasperation would cause the girl to leave her for good – so, she relented.
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you.
Still locked with Brittany’s focus, a familiar collage flooded Santana’s mind. Every important building block of her life had Brittany by her side in her memory’s colorful snapshots; a shared lunch on the first day of fourth grade, countless rides on bicycles named after Power Rangers, shoplifting cigarettes at the Mall of America, every grueling Cheerio workout, a shared date with the school’s quarterback, a first kiss on a dance floor, a first touch in a tent at Cheer Camp, a first love deep in her bones and wild in her blood. She dropped her gaze down and hoped that Brittany would continue to hold firm Santana’s foundation, even as the world quaked around them, sending an avalanche of the crumbled debris from fallen walls to the floor of the choir room.
But time makes you bolder,
Looking up to meet Brittany once more and exposing herself fully, Santana let her eyes spill all her secrets; Brittany read every one, cherishing each with perfect tenderness. With only Brittany and Santana singing to one another, Santana allowed her longing sadness to reside on her face as her pleading eyes nearly filled with tears. Admitting her biggest vulnerability, Santana trusted Brittany wholly and purely, knowing that the girl would not allow her foundation to falter. The small, fragile part of her heart that had hoped one day she could be brave and things could be different swelled knowing that the ‘one day’ was today; that she was bolder today than she was yesterday.
Children get older,
Santana began to wonder whether her young, friendly adoration for Brittany might have actually been love all along, and whether a child’s affection could even grow into an adult’s love. With Brittany returning her look with fierce intensity, Santana contemplated if it was possible for a nine year-old girl who loved her best friend devotedly to grow up and mature into a seventeen year-old girl in love with her best friend wholeheartedly.
And I’m getting older too.
Glancing away, Santana concluded that it was indeed possible, that the child’s love within her heart had, in fact, grown up. While singing to Brittany, Santana looked back and admitted as much. Beginning to feel the tears threatening, Santana pressed her lips together and dropped her eyes to her wringing hands.
Well, I’m getting older too.
With only Holly singing and Santana looking down, Brittany chanced a review of the faces in front of her. She checked over a few friends, hoping each would respect her and Santana’s special seriousness and not say anything insensitive afterward to ruin the moment. One set of eyes she couldn’t stand to meet were those belonging to her boyfriend.
So, take this love, and take it down, yeah…
Watching her friends perform a song together that was so obviously about their romantic feelings for one another, Quinn couldn’t help but think back to how she had witnessed her two best friends growing in love with each other. When Quinn first met the pair at Cheerio tryouts the summer before their freshman year, she thought the best friends were inseparable, so much so that the crazy girls jumped into a freezing pool naked together, hand-in-hand.
Quinn’s suspicions of her friends’ physically-sexual relationship mounted over the years with the ignoring of soapy buckets at car washes, the flirty whispering in cowboy hats at rehearsals, the unclasping of bras at sleepovers, the flustered squirming during Talent Show routines, and the breaking up of two blonde-on-blonde drunken make-outs. Over the past few months, the longing looks at each other when they thought no one was watching certainly contributed as well.
If you climb a mountain and you turn around,
Quinn had started to suspect her friends’ emotionally-romantic relationship however with the subtle, smitten bragging at roller rinks and hospital corridors, the heartbreakingly painful flash of vulnerability after a maliciously snide comment unfortunately made by Quinn herself, and most of all from the happy-in-love smiling the pair exchanged in what they thought was the privacy of a locker room. Finally, was all Quinn could think as she nodded along. Finally, they are sorting through this special thing they have.
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills,
After all of the years of pushing her feelings away, Santana flooded with emotion and her eyes filled with tears. While she looked at Brittany, Santana shook her head, pleading for her best friend to understand how much she truly meant what she was singing.
Well the landslide brought you down.
With only Holly singing, Santana felt Brittany’s eyes boring into her as she hung her head, tears starting to flow. When Santana finally turned her head to return the girl’s gaze, she offered Brittany something she had never offered another person. In a single, momentarily look, Santana showed Brittany her purest honesty and her freest vulnerability. Here I am, she thought. This is all of me – the part of myself I never show you, that I’ve never showed anyone else.
Studying Santana’s face, Brittany searched over the girl’s features carefully concerned, on the edge of worried. When Santana looked at her, Brittany was shocked by what she saw. With Santana crying and her chin trembling, Brittany realized she seeing that rare, unguarded peek at her best friend she had first glimpsed that night at Cheer Camp. Witnessing Santana so scared and vulnerable without the armor of her Cheerios uniform, and lacking the wall that safeguarded her heart, concerned Brittany. She pinched her lips tight in response, and silently pleaded, Oh honey. Wishing that Santana could hear her silent comforting, Brittany prayed, It’s okay. You’re okay.
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills,
From his view on the front row, Artie watched his girlfriend and her best friend sing a song to one another as if no one else existed in the room. While he listened to the lyrics, an icy knot twisted itself inside his stomach. As he noticed a familiar look on Brittany’s face, Artie catalogued the emotional performance in a particular file in his mind, adding to his mounting suspicions about the true nature of Brittany’s relationship with Santana.
Well maybe, well maybe, well maybe,
Unbearably exposed, Santana sang through her crying; she shook her head and begged for Brittany to understand.
The landslide will bring you down.
At the last lyrics, Santana’s eyes dropped down to her lap, trying in vain to hide her terrified sadness. Brittany looked over concerned as the trio harmonized the final notes of the song. The small audience then began clapping and Santana sniffled, wiping away a lingering tear.
Dying to know the answer for the question she pondered the entire performance, Brittany whispered under the cover of applause, “Is that really how you feel?”
“Uh-huh, yeah,” Santana answered back, honest, before standing. Still feeling uncomfortably on display, Santana needed a safe place to hide. She crossed to her best friend as Brittany shyly swept her bangs aside, and Santana wrapped her arms around the girl’s neck. They hugged in that sealed, airtight way and Santana tucked her chin over Brittany’s shoulder, using her best friend to hide and protect her from the rest of the world.
When they finally pulled apart, Brittany almost silently whispered, “Thank you.”
Santana simply nodded.
“Can I just applaud this trio for exploring the uncharted world of Sapphic charm? Brava. Brava,” Rachel critiqued.
Her fear of someone ruining the moment having come true, Brittany looked down and away, upset by Rachel’s ill-timed and tactless comment.
“Look, just because I sang a song with Brittany doesn’t mean you can put a label on me. Is that clear?” Santana rebuked, still at Brittany’s side.
As Santana gave her one more long look before turning to sit down, Brittany filled with that familiar dread of watching her best friend once again close herself off. Brittany wondered if that would be the last time Santana would ever open herself up; the disappointment was overwhelming. Brittany soon found her seat as well, and the girls did not speak with each other for the rest of the class. At one point, Brittany glanced at Santana out of the corner of her eye and noticed the girl wipe another stray tear away. Her heart clenched. When the bell rang, Santana immediately excused herself.
She’s beautiful, she’s innocent, she’s everything that’s good in this miserable, stinking world.