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.