Back in Our Bodies: How Maggie Rogers Gave Us the Space to Heal

by Elizabeth Cregan

On October 6, 2018, Maggie Rogers took the stage in Washington, D.C. Her set didn’t start until 10:30 p.m., after a long string of high-energy shows, but as the twenty-four year-old emerged, all fatigue from the day seemed to immediately dissipate. She was there, right in front of our eyes. She was real and she was with us.

A few minutes before the set began, an older woman in a denim jacket made her way to the middle of the crowd, right in front of where we stood. With a proud smile and steady hand, she raised her iPhone and took several photographs of the stage and the lights and the hundreds of excited bodies fidgeting together. Her face looked familiar. After a few minutes of fervent Googling, we confirmed our suspicion, and as Maggie Rogers’ mother (we’re like 93% sure!) turned to leave, she smiled and offered us simple direction: “Enjoy Maggie.”

And so we did.

The set began with the dancey “On + Off” before launching into a performance that consisted largely of unreleased music from her upcoming album. This was even more precious, prompting us to lean in and close our eyes and strain to listen to these foreign words and new melodies. They were all beautiful, filled with the intentionality and wisdom we’ve come to expect from her. Maggie’s is a compassionate approach to music, and there was no way to go through that show without feeling like something very special was happening.

At several points, I found myself inching closer and closer towards tears. The performance was a series of moments that I immediately recognized as future memories—sounds and images that I wanted to hold onto and store away for later, for when I was older and could say that I saw this night unfold.

Before diving into yet another unreleased song, Maggie gifted us with a bit of a preamble, telling us that she wrote this next one as a way to explore inhabiting her body in a metaphysical way, and not a sexual way; to recognize and respect her body as the place where her brain lives. No one else, she said, except for you, has the privilege of existing in your own body. I held onto these words as tightly as I possibly could. And then the song began:

This time I know I’m fighting. This time I know I’m back in my body.

On October 6, 2018, in another part of the city, just as it was twenty-seven years earlier, darkness was confirmed and validated and given a voice. But hours later, in front of an awe-struck crowd, Maggie Rogers used hers.

This time I know I’m fighting. This time I know I’m back in my body.

On October 6, 2018, I began to believe something I hadn’t for the past few years. I began to reclaim parts of myself I had lost—parts that had fallen out of my reach as I tried to navigate what it meant to be woman, parts shattered by one winter night my sophomore year, parts cracked by catcalls and months of knuckle-whitening news coverage.

The chorus built and my chest tightened, my heart swelled. And then, behind Maggie Rogers: a huge projected image of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford taking her oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The crowd let out enthusiastic yells of support. Some, including myself, wept and held onto those around them. A breeze rippled through the mass of bodies, offering a moment of relief. To the right of the stage, I noticed the unlit back wall of Union Market; painted in large navy letters on white plaster were the words “Never Give Up.”

This time I know I’m fighting. This time I know I’m back in my body.

On October 6, 2018, we began to heal. We prepared to fight.

Michele Dale