I will preface this brief post by saying that I had many years ago conceded that Michael Jackson had become something rather…well, rather disgusting. The molestation allegations, the bizarre weddings, addiction, megalomania…all just horrible, he had become…and for all I know, always had been a certifiable nut job. I understand why people hate him, I never did, more than anything watching what happened just made me so sad.
I didn’t really grow up in an R&B house, my Mom was a hippie, so it was more Doobie Brothers and Kenny Loggins, so when I was really little music was of little interest to me, until I heard Sir Duke from Stevie Wonder’s, Songs In The Key Of Life album. I was five when that album came out, my Mom bought it, but it was me that wore that record out. I would put it on and dance in our incense smelling apartment for hours, a year later I was a full on Motown junkie with a strong love for The Jackson Five and Michael Jackson in particular…when Off The Wall came out in 1979, I was 8 and quite the music lover….music with rhythm, music that made you dance and there was, or is no one that did music and dance better than Michael Jackson.
I think I was about 12 years old when I became completely obsessed with Michael Jackson, I had all the buttons, posters and my room was covered…every inch with pictures of him, to say I worshiped him is a gross understatement. The thing was, while I did in fact find him beautiful, (and please keep in mind I am talking like 1983-1986 here) there was something much deeper to my adoration, even back then it took more than “pretty” to win me over.
See the thing was, I didn’t quite “fit” not that anyone really does as an early teen, but moreover…I didn’t really try. I was, (and still am) overweight, not really into sports…traditionally where us chunky chicks find a place, I was attracted to black dudes but could not look more white…blonde, green eyes…I sucked at bullshit and small talk, I hated picking on others and those that loved it, we were wicked broke so my clothes sucked and I could not afford an instrument, so band was out, and I hated school and sucked at it…too smart to be stupid and too lazy to be smart….but I had one thing, I could dance.
The only place, in those early days-o-me, that I felt peaceful and powerful was when I was dancing, it was the one thing that I had….and I would ache all day long, squeezing myself into those tiny seats, looking at my test results with the big D- on it, shuffling from class to horrible class, I longed to be home, with my headphones on.
To feel the music coursing through my body and my body doing things I didn’t even know, why it could do, a base line, a pair of headphones and me alone in my room, my light at the end of the daily tunnel. To watch Michael, watch him move…so fluid, so natural, so unlike anything I had ever seen before, it went a long way in making me feel like less of a freak. Dancing wasn’t really that cool before him, sure it was great if you could but…it wasn’t mainstream, and if you bring up disco or John Travolta I will sock you in your head.
Michael Jackson was a huge part of my personal development, I wasn’t some screaming ninny that peed herself at the sight of him….I was in awe of is raw, natural talent, I wanted to be able to do the things he did, watching him spoke to my soul and gave me a “voice” and a place. Before long I was one of those street corner dancers, (sounds so retarded now) and was surrounded by this new, passionate bunch of people that were able to speak, with their feet and a spine that seemed to be made of liquid….that and I was smack dab in the middle of a culture that was able to embrace me because, even though I didn’t look like them…I spoke their language. For opening that door, I will always love Michael Jackson and he will always be special to me, that being said.
I am so sad tonight, sure I am sad that he died but even more sad that I cannot find it in myself to shed a tear…so tragic. How can someone or something that was so instrumental in me becoming the me that I am now, not warrant even one tear? I’m sure we all know why so no need to dig it all back up, but when I heard the news this afternoon it felt like the zipping of a body bag of an already dead soul.
I will miss him, just as I have missed him for nearly 20 years, but I will never forget my afternoons, my headphones, alone in my room, looking to fit and fitting with him…..thank you Mr. Jackson and rest in peace.