I Always Feel Like... Somebody's Watching Me!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Michael Jackson died

Master of the obvious, I know, but this is what Ayla has been telling everyone she has met all summer long. It must have been a monumental event in her 3-year old world. "Dead" is a new word in her vocabulary (thankfully), but that doesn't mean she gets the concept. She will say, "... he was dying and dying and dying." She just knows that it was, and is, a big deal. Both Mommy and Daddy cried. We started playing his music non-stop and the old posters went up in her little brother's room (more on that later).

It has been a few months since I shockingly saw on the news that MJ was hospitalized... and then that he had passed away. I was at work, trying to convey to my co-workers that, yes, seriously, I was upset. Don't misinterpret this - I couldn't care less about celebrity gossip. Yes, it's always sad when a person passes away, but just because I saw them in a movie doesn't make it personal. I didn't know them and nothing gets on my nerves more than a mediocre celebrity becoming infamous just because of an untimely death. The actual people in our own lives deserve more attention. But, with that said, my man MJ is an exception to that rule.

First of all, I was a product of the 80's. Anyone growing up then can pinpoint a time in their young childhood when "Thriller" debuted on Mtv or watched Moonwalker endlessly or made up dances to his music at slumber parties. And this wasn't an individual obsession, my entire family was there. It was the only time Mtv was even allowed. John Mayer said, "A major strand of our cultural DNA has left us. RIP MJ. I think we'll mourn his loss as well as the loss of ourselves as children listening to Thriller on the record player." So true. The loss of ourselves. We have somehow connected a love of his music and dancing to an innocent, happy, awe-struck period in our lives.

Secondly, I never grew out of that. A good friend and I once dictated letters to Michael onto a cassette tape. This was around the time of "Heal the World" and the Free Willy movie. We told him how we thought he was a wonderful person and his lyrics really meant a lot to us. Yeah, we were dorks, but I never did that for any other celebrity! I could totally relate to seeing people freak out and faint at his concerts, how would YOU react if you really saw the moonwalk in person? And when I watched the "Remember the Time" music video, I saw my life's dream as becoming a back-up dancer for MJ.

Then came the poster in college, given to me by Jenn. Quite possibly the greatest gift of all time. Most of the pictures are posted on Facebook, but this poster followed me everywhere I went. Yeah, it's funny to joke about grabbing his crotch or the white glove or a high-pitched, "Hee- hee"! But you know it's cool. Deep down, you know it. Don't deny the King of Pop.

And Michael was there at every wedding, every party, every time you made a mix tape for someone. So many happy memories shared with our friends and family - there's Michael making you dance like crazy. "A slave to the rhthym," as he put it.

Thirdly, can you guess why my son is named Jackson? Yeah. I like him that much. When Gregory and I were first dating, we thought Jackson Michael would be the coolest name for a baby ever. We've edited it a little since then, but thankfully, I married someone who shares the same adoration for MJ. I seriously doubt I could be with someone who disagreed with me on this. Just like politics, religion, child-rearing... there are some core values that have to be shared!

I just watched the Oprah show yesterday where she showed portions of her original 1993 interview with Michael Jackson. (Yet another moment in time that I remember sitting down with my entire family to watch it.) And, I'm realizing that the other side of it, is that I'm sad that in life MJ was so sad. He had all the things we spend our lives trying to attain: money, recognition, fame (in some respect, we all want it), opportunities to travel, etc. But when those gifts come to you at the age of 6 or 7 - you can't live a normal life. The poor man couldn't have both. While we can pinpoint the happy moments in our lives when we watched a video premiere or felt moved by "Man In The Mirror"; he was at yet another point in his career. Must be weird to be on the other side of that.

But, in death, Michael Jackson has impressed yet another generation. Albums are still best-sellers and I know my own kids will know his music. Hopefully all of the negative media can fade away and we'll be able to just appreciate how unique his status in our lives really was.

If they say, why, why? Tell 'em that is human nature
Why, why does he do me that way?
If they say, why, why? Tell 'em that is human nature
Why, why does he do me that way?
I like livin' this way, I like lovin' this way

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