Thank You, Mac Miller
I promise I am going to write my heart out for you.
I did not want to have to write this, or anything like this, ever. Now that I am writing, I cannot imagine doing anything but, and that is a gift you gave me. Ever since you were Easy Mac with the cheesy raps, ever since you flashed brilliant grins on Blue Slide Park, you gave me the gift of language and poetics in a way no one else ever has. I was 17 and scared in a hospital bed and you had my back, man. You and your punchlines and Big L impersonations and parties on 5th Ave took my mind off brain tumors and possibilities of chemo and spinal taps and surgeries. You took me to Pittsburgh and you rolled me a blunt, and you made me happy again.
I was 17 and thought my life was over, and with Blue Slide Park, you showed me all the ways life could be lived. I was woefully depressed and didn’t know the first thing about proper therapy channels, medication, admitting I had something deeply wrong with me, and you got me excited about life again. In the hospital, and no one knows this, but since we’re one big Most Dope family now, I would watch videos of you freestyling and try to craft my own 16s whenever my room was empty. It was so grounding and therapeutic. When I hit the flowstate while the nurses were away, man I thought I was finally anxiety-free. Here’s the thing about me rapping, though, I wasn’t very good, but you sure were.
And then the surgery happened, and I was OK, and you were OK. I played Blue Slide Park as we left Columbia Neurology behind us. And we kept smiling like we do, like you said. And then the winter of 2015 rolled around, and I shut myself up in my bedroom and drew the shades and wrote a letter, and you know how it goes. On the emotional readiness scale, I would consider myself Tinkerbell. I feel too much too fast and then I implode. The beauty of Faces, then and now, was that it was 24 laborious and abstract, and deranged songs. You went from tripping to screaming to breaking down love and drugs. You had the words for me when I was my most confused.
In the winter of 2015, I had this itch to kill myself, but I also had this convoluted spirituality. I wear a Kabbalah bracelet and a Star of David, and you must get it, because you titled your album The Divine Feminine. In 2015, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to live or die, so I would test myself. I would put myself in dangerous situations and through dangerous acts and drink dangerous amounts just to know. If I was supposed to die, I would. I made it into a game, because I had to. I gave myself “the Faces-rule.” The tape comes on and I give my mortality a stress test.
This was all terribly ritualistic and I was at my lowest, but every time the project came to a close, I was still alive. I had vivid, graphic nightmares and stopped sleeping. Faces gave words and sounds to my nightmares and when I realized I could finally explain myself, I realized I could survive. Thank you, Mac, for reaching out from whatever plane you were on when you made Faces and showing me there was a life left for me to live in a kindred, cosmic sense that will only make sense to me. I lived, man; we did it.
Even soundless, Mac, you gave me my words. You gave me my life, man. I wrote myself out of 2015 with Run-On Sentences: Vol. 1 on in the background. It was February and I was still sitting in pitch darkness, but I was finally back at that poetry business. I was writing the best poems of my life, and the first publication credit I ever earned was for a piece I wrote to “Birthday.” The poem was about living, somehow — just like all of your music and your legacy will be about living, somehow. I lived, man; we did it.
In 2016, my life was feeling like it was mine again, and like clockwork your music was right there with me. It was uncanny — it is uncanny — how we’ve managed to live through everything together year-to-year. It’s a Jewish thing, I think. In 2016 I was in and out of love and you were very much in, and I was feeling on top of the world somewhere in Bushwick and you had it all figured out, too.
And then when life didn’t ask and pulled the rug out from under me, in the pockets of The Divine Feminine, you were still there and you still understood. I returned to GO:OD AM, I learned what fight and recovery sounded like. All these years, man, and you kept teaching me what life could sound like if I just gave it some time and elbow grease. When I began to settle into the reality of my depression, to accept that this is how I am going to have to live every day, Watching Movies with the Sound Off was the record that showed me exactly how sadness could be beautiful and beyond reproach without being glamorized. Your language was always fucking thrilling, but Watching Movies unlocked something in me that colors everything I write to this day.
You made “I Am Who Am,” which I’ve vowed to get tatted down my arm just as soon as I know this writing thing is going to work out. You made a song about the Jewish Diaspora and how you don’t want to be chosen you just want to be left alone. You made a song talking to a void, while talking to yourself, while talking to me, while I talk to myself, and it was slick and avant-ish and brilliant. You made my favorite song, Mac, the one I play people who want to get to know me.
In 2017, my grandfather passed away. The same day I found out about his passing, and again, no one knows this, but that was when I bought a three-foot painting of you because I was distraught and that seemed like a reasonable coping method. As I’m writing this, I have that piece of art framed in my living room right beside me. I look up at it whenever I have a writer crisis of faith. Some people have an everything-artist. Some people have a mentor-artist. Shit, Mac, you were a light. You were transcendent to me.
Then there was Swimming. You didn’t release that album, Mac, you gifted it to me. ‘Nother year, same shit. One-to-one, you and I. It’s 2018, and I’m fucking terrified, man. I’m scared and I’m excited, and I’m at peace. All at once. I wake up in the middle of a panic attack damn near every day; some days I don’t know how to help myself. Swimming is the first album I put on every morning. I mumble bars to myself when the breathing gets tough. All of the nameless evil that plagues me lives on Swimming, in this stunning, heavenly package I could have never articulated without you. People might think you saved my life, but you did something so much more important: you showed me exactly how I can save myself.
In 2018, I found out you read my writing. A lot of my writing — and you liked it. That means the world to me. At the time of writing this, over 30 people have reached out to me personally to see how I am. I’m happy to be part of your legacy in that way, to be known in my corner of the Internet as That Mac Miller Girl, while you go down as a legend who touched so many people’s lives.
Thank you, Mac. Thank you for your love, and for reading my writing. Thank you for teaching me that I can keep living so long as I keep writing, so long as I keep creating. Thank you for explaining the Jewish Diaspora to me in song. Thank you for Macadelic, an album that sounds like my specific brand of day-to-day. Thank you for growing with me and showing me that I am not crazy at all. I promise on everything I am going to write my heart out for you, just like you showed me time and time again for a decade.
There truly has never been a motherfucker iller, Mr. Miller.
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