In the summer of 2011, I went to England for the first time. I was staying in a small town for the summer.

“Now boarding to Heathrow Airport.”

It was my first time travelling alone. Although smart phones existed, I didn’t have one. I owned a flip phone Nokia.

“Be safe, Elsa!”

I started listening to the album FRANK by Amy Winehouse on the plane to London.

I looked out the window and saw the clouds. I was giddy. I was utterly excited for this adventure.

“Select song.”

The song “Take the Box” just embodied the mood of a hormone-driven teen Elsa. I went to an all-girl high school and then a mainly-female liberal arts college. I also lived with a conservative Catholic mom who prohibited dating until I got my education. “Take the Box” was my outlet to teen fantasy of dating.

“What is it about men” was another song that gave me the straight facts of men and their tricks, according to Amy. I took notes from Professor Amy.

“Now arriving to Heathrow.”

Once I landed in London from Toronto, I started my adventure. So began my journey into the song “Valerie.” The excitement of being alone was not scary. I was bubbly and walking with a bounce like Valerie.

I continued my track list into the world of Amy in her hometown of London.

“Excuse me, where is tube?”

“Rehab” was a rebellious song. Although I’m the least likely rebel on the planet, I felt like a secret agent in forbidden territory while in England on my own. “Rehab” was safe baby Elsa’s ode to travel rebellion.

“Welcome to Camden”

I arrived to Camden, the neighbourhood of London where Amy lived and sang her first songs. I could imagine her singing “You know I’m no Good” near the canal.

Amy Winehouse died that same 2011 summer in London.

It was the first time I felt a loss of a “celebrity.”

Today in 2019, I’m now a woman. A lawyer. A lover and many other things. I’m listening to Amy Winehouse. The album FRANK still resonates. “Love is a losing game” sometimes feels like my anthem as a single professional dating with the ambition of career.

There’s a long, “He can only hold her hand” that adopts different meaning to different weeks, and stages in my professional life. When Amy sings, “what’s inside her never dies,” I remember walking along the smelly streets of London and remembering the explorer in me. That explorer will never die. As I’m now in Toronto as a lawyer, sometimes I close my eyes and dream on the TTC. That explorer and dreamer never dies.

Even when I’m having a bad, I’ll be back to being a badass as “Back to Black” after “Tears Dry on Their Own.” .

Thanks Amy for guiding this former teen to a woman in her complexity.

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