The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
When it comes to Taylor Swift, there are so many pop anthems and breakup songs that can be used to make sense of the complexities of romance and relationships. Although critics may argue that the song is repetitive and plays into the basic narrative of pop songs, “Out of the Woods” is one of the more inspiring breakup songs in Swift’s discography. Hope, re-discovery, self-worth, and self-reflection are all a part of the message and significance of the song. Heartbreak comes in many different forms and can be difficult to navigate, but through these songs, Swift imparts to her audiences that there can be light in the dimmest of situations. This song depicts that in letting go of something or someone, you can discover that all you have to hold onto in order to make it out of the woods is yourself.
It had never been this hard for her. Being at the old cabin with memories of conversations, long nights of laughter, summer fun, and first-time feelings never used to bother her. Yet now the essence of the past seemed to linger around her most when she was faced with aging wooden panels that lined the exterior and interior of the place she used to be so fond of. For Camila, summers at the cabin were hot and tedious, yet it always felt like sunshine coated every aspect of her life with warmth and tenderness while she was there. Now, standing in the moss-covered dirt that met with the front steps of the cabin she was reminded of the innocence that only her childhood possessed.
She had never missed a summer at the cabin. Not when she broke her leg falling down a flight of stairs when she was ten, or when she had summer school. Not even when she started attending college. This place was sacred to her, holy even. Her birthday usually fell at the end of the summer and they always had a big bash to celebrate it, and it was her favorite part of it all because she got to spend it with her entire family. Last summer was the first time she decided not to meet her family up at the cabin at the end of July like they’d done every summer since she was born. After everything she went through last year, it felt like a violation to come here. To stain all the good memories with her twisted and unfortunate reality.
She regretted moving away from Boston, away from her family. It might have been the worst decision, worst mistake, of her life, but there was nothing she could do about it now. What was done was done. Her family didn’t blame her for the death of her sister, but she couldn’t stop believing that if she had only come home sooner, she could’ve driven Claire to that party and she would’ve never ended up in that accident.
When her mother called to tell her the news she was on stage performing as the first chair violin for the Berklee College of Music orchestra. It had been a dream of hers to attend Berklee and become a successful musician, but after the accident, she couldn’t bring herself to touch her violin again. Feeling like it was the bringer of death she sold her violin to a pawn shop and never looked back. A year and a half had passed and she could still remember the feeling of playing but would never consider picking it up again, not when it was the cause for all her despair. Not when she could’ve prevented Claire from going to that party and getting in that car.
That guilt kept her from coming up to the cabin with her family last summer, and while it still ate away at her she agreed to join them this summer. More so for her mother than for herself. Her mother had been so overwhelmed with the loss that she hardly spoke to anyone, including Camila’s father. She buried herself in watching Telenovelas for hours and volunteering at the community center, but outside of those activities, her mother was a gosht. In that sense, Camila was too.
A week after the accident, when she could get out of bed and leave her apartment, she went and dropped out of school. If Clair couldn’t go to college then neither would she. The initial shock of it all had been so much that she debated moving home to be with family but then the guilt set in. How could she face them, live with them, when she could have saved her had she been there. She still struggled with how to move on and move past that feeling of something being so very wrong with her life because a part of her was gone. But like her mother, she found ways to cope. She got a job at a coffee shop to supplement the funds she got from the scholarship she no longer had. She read a lot of fantasy novels, and she started knitting. All very mundane things that kept her occupied, yet boring enough to where she didn’t feel guilty about being alive.
Coming to the cabin this summer would be a challenge. Claire was embedded in every aspect of this place. Every shadowy corner, every chipped piece of would, and every dusty surface. Camila arrived early to wade through her emotions alone, without having to cry in front of anyone or have anyone feel sorry for her as most of her aunts, uncles, and cousins had done with her and her parents.
Walking through the cabin alone, Camila felt the weight of how empty the place was, how empty her life had been since Claire was gone. She walked in silence throughout the entire cabin accompanied by that formidable loneliness. The three bedrooms, that were shared amongst the cousins, were filled with bunkbeds, old toys, teen magazines, sports gear, and a variety of random items. Then there were the two bedrooms reserved for the adults. She stopped at the end of the hall in front of the room she shared with Claire. Scanning the room from the doorway, Camila formed a small smile at the thought of the life they had shared when they were young. The secrets they told each other at late hours of the night about their most vulnerable truths, as well as the usual boy talk and gossip. It was all there in that room.
Camila came to a stop in front of the dresser positioned on Claire’s side of the room. There, sitting on top of the dresser, was a white wooden box covered in glittery stickers and colorful markings, with Claire’s name written out in bold letters. Camila opened the box to find relics from their fondest childhood memories. Movie tickets, pictures of Claire’s celebrity crushes, beaded bracelets, pictures of the two of them, and a small jewelry box with a note that says, “To my favorite (and only) sister, and the best violinist Berklee’s ever heard. Keep going and never stop!” Inside the jewelry box was a dainty silver chain attached to a violin charm. Letting go of all the guilt, shame, and darkness of the past year and a half, Camila knew then that every moment and melody would be for Claire and the life she would get to live through her.