I was in my kitchen when I heard the news. I’d turned off the TV earlier, and the only music we heard was from the bite-sized voices in the living room: my children. Phil was out, picking up dinner. My father was chasing his grandchildren. The phone rang. It was Phil, delivering the news.
There’s no question that Micheal Jackson was talented, an icon, a dynamic performer who changed the scope of music. Despite his controversial life, he’s loved throughout the world, and this is an amazing loss. People remember where they were when JFK died, Princess Diana, and now we’ll remember Michael Jackson in the same way.
He’s flavored all our lives in one way or another. Two days ago, I was at the gym, working out to ABC on myPod. Music colors our lives and enriches our memories. As a tribute, this repost, of how he’s colored mine (aside from the fact that I, at one point, wore a rhinestone-pricked white glove):
“I just pilfered through his computer.”
“I went searching for something I wouldn’t like. I found photos of his past.”
“That’s what we always search for first.”
“Half-naked pictures of women he’s slept with. Of course it made me feel like shit.”
“At least they’re pictures from his past, not the present.”
“Very true. I can’t imagine. Still, what’s wrong with me that I’d go looking for something that would upset me?”
“There’s nothing wrong with you; every woman does that.” No they don’t. Do they?
In 1983, I was in second grade, at Lori Kalka’s house for a sleepover party. I remember staying up later than I ever had before. We all had brought our own sleeping bags and were folded into her carpeted basement, with bags of chips and cans of cheese between us. We were staying awake to watch Michael Jackson’s Thriller video on MTV.
Lori’s older sister Robin was there. Robin was adopted, Lori said, but I later learned that really Lori was adopted. Lori had silky blond hair that looked as if it belonged on a doll. Kimberly Fillion, another girl in our class, had blond hair too, but that night when we were trying to give one another electric shocks by rubbing our feet, covered in socks, against the carpet, we all swore it looked green under the basement lights. Lori had a projector television; it was the first I’d ever seen like it. I think she also had two poodles, the big kind that needed proper grooming and seemed stuck up. Kimberly had a Yorkshire terrier named Juju who she cradled like a baby and encouraged up her tee shirt, insisting the dog wanted milk from her “boobies.” This is what I remember of Michael Jackson’s video. I don’t remember it being scary, only that I wanted it to be. I was terrified that night but not from the video. I was afraid I’d wet the bed, as I was still apt to do, and would continue to do for many years. I don’t know how my parents allowed me to sleep at other kid’s homes. Didn’t they ever fear a phone call in the middle of the night?
I find it fascinating the way we like to scare ourselves. We sit in the dark and encourage group tales of ghosts and murders and cars with teens parking and men with hook hands scraping at windows. We sit in dark theaters and watch movies about rings and getting lost in woods. We set ourselves up, frightened, our hearts racing… why?
“It’s like we want to make ourselves feel. It’s the drama, the pulling of excitement out of the calm of our lives, like warped magicians, yanking white from the black."
"I was just going to say that."
"On the one hand, we’re completely insecure for looking in the first place. And if the stuff we find (emails, letters, photos, texts, IMs) bothers us at all, then we’re even more insecure. Because we shouldn’t care, or we should at least be secure enough to know that it doesn’t mean anything, but how can it not bother us? When you get to the point where you confidently shrug your shoulders, don’t you worry that you don’t even really love them anymore, or don’t love them like a lover? I want to be the kind of woman who doesn’t give a shit, but for me, that probably means actually not giving a shit.”
"Everyone wants to be like that."
We strap ourselves into rides with metal bars pulled into our laps, and then climb the ticks of a roller coaster, waiting for the plummet. It’s a build and release the same way a thriller movie is. But what about when we create these “thrills” in our own lives? We create drama to feel more alive. I certainly do. It has been a while since my alter psycho has been unleashed. I’m much more secure now (thank God), but not all that long ago, I was a thrill-seeker in the worst way. Far worse than the moonwalk.
"It’s easy to type it into a neat little paragraph about how strong we are, whipping up perfectly rational statements about ‘in the past.’ Please. Not every day is fitted in my starched security button-downs. Sometimes, I get sloppy, and my life becomes untucked. The next day, it’s better. Still, I can’t believe he was with some of those women. They were really beautiful, and it made me feel bad about myself… like, why is he with me? I know deep down it’s because of who I am, that I don’t see me how others do, that I’m unique, and he’s connected to me because of that… But why does he keep his past? Why do any of us? They remind us of where we’ve been, sure, but why do we need the reminder? We’ve all been with someone hotter. Everyone has those stories, about the ridiculously hot one we slept with, or dated. We’ve all had hotter than we’re with. We don’t choose on looks alone, none of us. But why do we go searching and then let ourselves feel like shit when we stumble upon anything that might be a something?"
To feel alive.