Friday, June 26, 2009

Have You Seen My Childhood?

I don't have any of his albums on CD or on my iPod. I haven't been a true fan since I was a little girl. Yet Michael Jackson's passing is making things shift inside. It makes me sad and I feel like something irrevocable has been lost. Or maybe I just feel confronted by the loss of something I knew was long gone, but now it's just in a really tangible way. My father died five years ago yesterday. Maybe I'm just projecting or transferring or insert your favorite psycho babble term for not dealing with your shit here.

It's impossible for me, born in 1978, to think about Michael Jackson and not also think about my childhood.  I remember the purple Thriller tshirt that had an ironed on screenshot from the Thriller video on the front of it. It was a gift from my grandfather, who surely thought he was proving he still had it, still knew what was cool. I never wore it. It scared the crap out of me and remained, neatly folded and menacing, towards the back of my tshirt drawer. I would try my best to avert my eyes anytime I opened the drawer to hastily retrieve any shirt but it to wear.

I think about a VHS tape of the Motown 25 Special my father gave my sister Dana and I (I'm realizing now that all of us 80s-ites apparently had a copy)  and how we watched it over and over again with our friends. Our response as little girls to this move he busted out called the moonwalk as awed and enthusiastic as that crowd of music professionals and insiders on the tape. And then, I think about those same little girls being under the curious belief that the people that lived in their building would want to come and watch a choreographed (and much-rehearsed) dance performance set to several songs off of the "Bad" album. It turns out, people did actually come. But then that was the Bronx in 1987. We had the album on cassette and there was a lot of work put into getting all the cues right what with the technical challenges push button fast forwarding presented.

And as I talked to Dana this evening, while I marveled over the fact that this constant icon could be gone she was having a hard time getting over the fact that Michael Jackson could be fifty. But of course he is...was. I'm 30 now and Dana's 28. And isn't that strange and a wonder in itself? And there it is. The heart of the grieved outpouring and shock. How can we be here already? Living out the days when it's possible for our giants to fall. 


  1. Umm...who authorized you to publish my age? I do have fans out there, you know.

  2. I stand in my kitchen reading this from my phone sobbing, weeping, remembering. You write beautifully - and I am so honored to be one of those little girls you write about. Good times with you girls. Good times with Michael. Those were the best years of my life. Thank you. Thank you, Michael Jackson. PS...not psycho babble at all-I look forward to being reunited with you both soon. Life's too short, as we all painfully know too well. ~Angela

  3. Angela wrapped it up in a nut shell. I miss those years too...all too much. I commend you for being able to share and combine your fond memories withh such losses. You were a heart felt friend, and daughter...
    on a lighter note, do u remember my solo as I did the split!
    Wow, the old days....
    Miss you guys.


  4. As always, I am incredibly depressed that I cannot remember/ missed these performances! Season One is my Camp Greenidge!

  5. Also, I love that photo of Michael and Janet.

  6. Season One IS your Camp Greenidge--I love it!

  7. Yeah well, imagine how I felt remembering that during the last part of my senior year- in January 1970, when the group was new. and some one turned up a forbidden radio and I want you back came on during 7th period lunch.

    The whole cafeteria, kids of all colors, groups, clicks, and status erupted in to an original scene that the soon to be movie Fame obviously copied. Imagine how it is to remember Senior Day and the Jackson song of the day was "Stop The Love You Save May Be Your Own" that also included it's own dance moves. (we were the creative group)

    Although I did not cry for Michael, I felt sad, sad that an era is slowly winking out. I have friends that have died, had strokes, now need wheelchairs and when we meet, behind the smile of hello is the unspoken - "How did we get here"

    Funny Dana is now the age I was when you were born. You are the age when I realized that the slogan from the 60's "never trust anyone over 30" was now me. When I think of coming of age in the late 60's and early 70's before I really became an adult, I realize I have memories that are becoming faded and browned at the corner like the aging color Kodiak snap shots we took back then.

    But those memories will get me through the years that are racing by faster and faster. Imagine how honored I feel to know that you, Dana and Suzanne are becoming the keepers of the flame for us and you will pass the flame down. ("telephone, telegraph, tell a Greenidge") Here's to the fond memories of the ones who shaped our lives.