Our friend and fellow music lover Brittany Goldych died last week.
I’m sort of still sitting here waiting for, like, a pebble to hit my window or something, and then I’ll go over to the window and open it up and it’ll be Brittany standing there in full dinosaur costume or decked out in her moto jacket and blue lipstick and yellow glasses and that bumble bee striped winter cap she had, all, “Dude, you dork, it was all a sick joke!”
I can’t say that Brittany was my best friend, and I was not hers. It’s funny, when someone dies there almost seems to be a hierarchy to the grieving, like, if someone else was closer to the deceased than I was, I am not as entitled to my pain, guilt or sadness as they are.
I don’t think it works that way though. People just feel stuff.
Brittany was just a baby girl, 28 years old. She was a gale force wind, a pillar of our music community, and simultaneously one of the most joyful and one of the most fretful people I knew.
I still have a bunch of books she bought at Elements in Biddeford off of the $1 shelf. Greek and Roman classics and mythology. I asked her on the ride home what she loved about those stories and she went into detail about specific pieces she loved and why she loved those grandiose stories of hubris and morality. She left them in my trunk and I forgot to bring them back to her.
Brittany made me feel comfortable and at home. One night a couple of years ago, she and my then-boyfriend came to my apartment after an evening out, and I went into the kitchen to make them snacks while they chatted boisterously about their shared place of employment. Her laughter, her one-upping, her loudness, her big round enunciation of words, like her whole mouth was just savoring every curve of every bulbous part of her speech, I didn’t want her to leave and take her music away. I brought out round after round of snacks, toast points with cream cheese, little salami slices and pickles, and she got a kick out of every round: “oh my god VK, more friggin’ snacks?” followed by laughter and some kind of snarky remark. We drank boozy seltzer and took stupid photos of each other on Brittany’s new phone.
Brittany made me feel frustrated. I recall a night in the not too distant past when we were hanging out at a show, and she felt pushed around by someone else at the show who earlier had given her a hard time, talked shit about her and threw negativity her way. I kept giving the most annoying, pointless advice that you could give to someone in that situation: “just ignore them, who the fuck cares, we’re at a kickass rock show let’s just hang out.” In my head I keep replaying the flash of her face as the perpetrator got too close, and she just put her chin down, put her hand up and for a split second, she looked as if she would burst into tears. She shook her head wildly and walked out the door.
I didn’t do shit about that. I fucking stood there doing absolutely nothing, feeling frustrated that we couldn’t just have a drama free evening. Feeling empathy for Brittany for being so affected by another person being a dick, but doing nothing to help her. I’m so irritated at myself. Just because I am old and have learned that people being dicks has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the people being dicks, not everyone is there yet. Like, be more compassionate VK. Listen to a person in pain. Jesus fucking christ.
Relationships are like this. You have wonderful times together. You drive to Gardiner to go to their favorite diner and listen to the Guyarrhea episode of BYR and cackle your asses off together and tour their home town. You have terrible times together, you fight and say things you don’t mean and break stuff and make hot decisions.
And you have indifferent times. Times when you’re not actively involved in the person’s life, times when you can’t understand what they’re going through because you didn’t live it or you are too far removed from what the implications are, or you’re just deep in your own shit and you don’t have the headspace to show up for anyone else’s stuff. In retrospect, after we lose someone, it is often these times with which we have the most trouble reconciling.
Brittany knew so many people in Portland. She was an incredibly friendly, gregarious and energetic spirit, and she was so kind to everyone, but she was also honest and stubborn with everyone too. She stood up for what she believed. She always came out to support other peoples’ shows, and she played dungeons and dragons with one crew and talked comics with another, and judged nobody unless they judged her first and got themselves in her sights. She just touched a lot of lives. A LOT of lives. She made my life, for one, better. Her intelligence, her artistic talent, her kindness and warm heart, her kookiness, her spontaneity, her habit of constantly falling down in snow despite being born and raised in Maine, her pin up meets punk rock style, her tenderness, her toughness, her can-do attitude, her sick sense of humor, and, yes, her darkness, her anger, and the depths of despair that she was capable of reaching. She touched me with those things, and I’m so, so grateful for those moments.
I am sure there are a lot of us out there right now who are going over things in our minds, asking ourselves what we could have done, what we missed, how we could have been better and more present. There’s really never an answer for that in these moments. It’s just something we have to live with in eternal uncertainty.
I don’t really know what else to say. This isn’t meant to be callous, but I can’t say I “miss” Brittany yet, because we would sometimes go weeks without seeing each other. But her absence is very tangible to me in a different way. A way I haven’t grown up enough yet to know how to explain. It’s an unsettling, and an undoing, and I fucking wish to every power known or unknown that she had not died. Not yet. It was just too fucking soon. She deserved more.
My amazing friend Will wrote something on facebook not long after she passed away: “Be like Brittany.” And he’s right, we all absolutely should engage with the world as intensely as she did, and be as kind, and be as sensitive, and be as weird, and be as unique as Brittany. So I love this. I’m going to endeavor to be like Brittany.
And please, to all of the perfectly imperfect humans who read this web site, please practice empathy and compassion with each other as you go out into your weekends. Don’t be like me, the icy, old crone who does nothing because she’s numb to the world. Be like Brittany. Be there, be in it and be with each other. And be there for yourself. Because often, nobody else will be. You’re just as good and valid a friend to yourself as anyone else could be.
If you knew Brittany, even if you only spoke to her one time or knew her casually from the coffee shop or something, please share your stories about her in the comments here. You can do so anonymously or add your name. I think all of us, including Brittany's family, would love to know more about all the different things she was to different people. Please, please share if you can. All loving, no hate, no beef, just memories and thoughts, just realness. Thank you in advance.
Friday December 1
Perfect human and psychedelic chick who shreds St. Vincent is at the State. There are still tickets left as of this writing. Her shows are killer. Go see her and then ride the crimson wave of being excellent on down to some local shit after.
Why not make that thing this On The One dance party at Oxbow with Fava le Chic and Hi Duke? Still the best soul dance party in town. Boys, don't forget to play me my Chaka Khan and Bobby Womack when I get there!
GAAAHHHHH events like this make me so frustrated. While I love Bunker Brewing, I enjoy going there, their events are fun, they book good shit, etc., I am also like so friggin’ bro-ed out by the events these breweries are constantly doing. Bluegrass band Steamboat Gypsy plays Bunker Brewery’s first annual chili cook off for charity (their event page does not specify which charity). It’s Friday night, man. You think I want to go put on a dress and stand around in the cold eating bottomless chili? Or even worse, go stand around in a TINY ROOM with dozens of other people who are all also eating bottomless chili? This event is tailor made for people who go to work in long jonathans and Carhartts, and then just like, come home and take a shit and crush a beer and go right back out on a Friday night in their long jonathans and Carhartts. Look, I don’t judge, but this party is going to be 100% all about the Charge of the Fart Brigade, and that’s why you do chili cookoffs in THE SUMMER, OUTSIDE, where people can FART IN GODDAM PEACE, for hours on end. To fart, to toot, to poop, but not to yield! See, fucking Tennyson knew how to throw a chili cookoff, man, even all the way back in the 1800's.
Mayo Street hosts their excellent multilingual, safe space, International Open Mic series at 7pm. Sign up early to play, speak, slam, perform, whatever.
VT songwriting duo The DuPont Brothers are headlining PHOME, with Connor Garvey and Max Garcia Conover. BUT WHERE WILL I SIT FOR THIS CHILL AF SHOW you hear yourself asking? Hopefully they’ve got the foldies out.
Sylvia, Lord Almighty, Replacire and Obsidian Tongue are at Geno’s tonight. Salvage has Pete Witham and the Cozmik Zombies, and Darlin’ Corey, The Okbari Middle Eastern Trio and The Evan King Group are all at Blue.
Saturday December 2
Flask is hosting a memorial for Brittany tonight at 6 if you want to come. Afterward, there’s a free new wave dance party and you can donate to Brittany’s memorial scholarship fund if you have any spare dollars.
Ukelele cover band (formerly known as Ukelelien, no I am not joking I WISH I HAD MADE THAT STUPID NAME UP) Cousin Earth and Beards are at Empire tonight? Is this real? These sound like band names my older, weirder niece would have made up before she became a teenager.
It’s an above average night for punk and garage in town. Mouth Washington is releasing their new album at SPACE with FonFonRu, Phallus Uber Alles and Wesley Allen Hartley’s project, Barbecue. This lineup is fucking killer and I’m pissed I didn’t think of it myself. Geno’s has Korovyov, Lug, HazelKrust and Remember Slave. Hazelkrust sounds delicious and I should like to eat whatever hazelkrust is immediately. If you can’t cross the city limits, 212 has Beyond the Fall, Fifth Freedom, Objet, and Break The Skin (gross).
Angel Olson is at the State with Heron Oblivion, which is ALSO a terrible band name unless Heron Oblivion is the first and last name of a person, in which case, you know, fucking fine or whatever.
PHOME hosts Emo Night again, no word on who’s in this one or what they’re playing, but you know… they’ll play some emo and shit I guess, I don’t know. I did read this recently and it gave me pause, since I actually don’t know much about this genre of music, but, people of emo night, maybe it’s a good time to let emo night lie fallow for a bit as we gals/queers/femmes/non-binaries/non-cis folk figure out what to do about all this rape and being held back in our jobs and being treated like garbage and shit since the patriarchal types are obviously not going to to do shit about it except call it a witch hunt and, like, I don’t know, keep being terrible, generally? Like, maybe it’s just not the climate for this music right now despite Glassjaw having a new album out or whatever, and you’re welcome to get mad at that, but that would kind of just reinforce my point.
Blue has the Michael Beling Trio, The Soggy Po’ Boys and the Kyle Hardy Group. I know a lot of people who are super into the Soggy Po’ Boys. But I… like, if you say it out loud, there’s just something about the word soggy next to the orphaned syllable “po” that feels… like paunchy old pants carrying a wet load around in the butt. Or, like… wet Wonder Bread pieces just floating up against the concrete lip of the sad little urban pond in which you’re feeding the ducks. It just grosses me out. I hate that band name. But apparently they’re very good. So.
Sunday December 3
Forget everything else happening today, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists are at PCMH. Go there. He’s the fucking best.