Kimya Dawson is hot shit right now, and everyone on the entire planet is happy for her. Including me. Because Kimya Dawson made me grow up.
If you hate when people make music about themselves, stop reading here. It’s about to get real personal.
When I was 17, I was working as an intern at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD, which is right outside of DC. It was the summer between junior and senior year of high school, and my dad had gotten me this job for the summer for two reasons: to keep me out of trouble at home and to give me a test run of living by myself.
I was working at UMD as an intern for some graduate students who were building a room that was also a robot. It was pretty interesting, and I learned how to solder, shape liquid latex, and organize informational hierarchies. But there was one problem—all my co-workers were over 25. And they were the only people I knew. I had been having trouble sleeping, and there was no one to talk to.
The first night I was there, they took me to see Fugazi play in the park. That was cool, but it was the only time they hung out with me.
I started working at a co-op as a volunteer in my spare time to make friends, but they were all older people too. But they felt pity on me, and one night two hippie girls took me to a show at the Black Cat. It was Ladyfest. I didn’t know who was playing. When I got to the club, I claimed that I had forgotten my ID, and they X’d out my hands (viva Dischord) and let me in.
First up was some band that I don’t remember very well. Lesbians, one playing drums and one playing guitar. Then some burlesque, which was still hip at the time. After that, Kimya came on.
My jaw dropped the floor. KIMYA FUCKING DAWSON! OF THE MOLDY PEACHES! I had her pictures plastered to the wall of my bedroom in Boston. I read Paper magazine religiously, and they were featured one month. I LOVED them. But I didn’t know how to keep track of my favorite artists yet, and I had no idea that Kimya had a solo career. I got right upfront and watched her, spellbound, while she sang songs from her first three solo CD-Rs, My Cute Fiend Sweet Princess, Knock Knock Who?, and I’m Sorry That Sometimes I’m Mean. I remember her playing “The Beer” and laughing until I almost cried. She was funny and real and sweet and sad and brilliant.
After Kimya wrapped up, a go-go band that played and everyone danced. It was one of the first times I had ever been to a real show like a grown-up in a real club, because everything in Boston is 18+. My test of living alone had been a success—I realized that I possessed the ability to make my own fun, my own friends, and that I could experience art all the time if I wanted to. The hippie girls bought me a drink. I turned adult.
Afterwards, Kimya was working her own merch table. I had ten dollars, but I needed about $3.50 to get back to College Park on the Metro. I walked over and started gushing. “I love you so much! Your picture is on my wall! I don’t have any friends here! I didn’t even know you were playing! Did I mention I love you? Like, so much!” I asked her which of the CDs I should buy, since I could only afford one at $5 each.
She gave me all of them. And her book of poetry (which is amazing). And a big monster hug. I gave her $5. Kimya was my friend. Kimya did me a solid.
And from then on, I knew that I didn’t have to be scared of being by myself, because there were always people around who are looking out for you, even if you don’t know them. I went back to my apartment and fell asleep easily for the first time since I left home.
Kimya Dawson is a saint.