this piece came to me as i was watching the now-ubiquitous (to me, anyway) videos of you in performance... 1975; you turned 17 that year. your crown shining, as you floated past your siblings... as i watched you i struggled with my anger as i reflected upon my own past, my gaze simultaneously filled with wonderment at your utter beauty. the only word i could think of, is 'perfection'.
in the end, your looks don't matter (particularly since you'd never be 17 forever, and besides, true beauty transcends physical form) but i must stop to celebrate the poetry of your... of that moment, ceased in time on a relic. within all the words i have written thus far, i find myself to be speechless. just read the piece, my teacher. it's actually the first piece i recall writing in about 4 years.
(note: this was finished at 8:17 am on 15 december 2009)
patience is what i have learned from you and what i am to continue to learn as i watch you spin effortlessly i marvel at how GOD could create anyone so perfect simultaneously acknowledging that no one actually is perfect your large brown eyes so deep and your features so strong as the ocean where some of your ancestors were perhaps buried
as you effortlessly spin i give in to the urge to marvel at your perfection i ask how GOD could create a being so beautiful a graceful swan emerging from the throes of adolescence head thrown back in ecstasy of the passion play of an evening's performance rapturously effortlessly spinning
your vibrato quakes my spine and moves to my insides as you sing about love and loneliness as if someone so perfect could be so lonely. you take me to places i should never imagine going who am i to think i could reach you when the oasis is broken with GOD'S cruel jokes of blemishes or getting caught in a microphone cord or a parent to say that your perfection is meaningless
and as i watch you gracefully glide across the floor i angrily question how someone can challenge your perfection, how a man from whose seed you were born could make such remarks
today marks the 5th month where your presence has been felt in a different way... it is, of course, a mystery as to how this day five months ago came to be. there are so many holes in the story it's no wonder that there have been theories that this event was indeed, a hoax... that you will return in physical form at some point, when you are ready.
in many ways this theory makes me very happy, as it means that you are under the facade of remaining out of the spotlight, just relaxing from the 45 years you'd performed nonstop. most likely this is wishful thinking; if you actually were still alive you'd most likely be working on some upcoming project, to shock the people even more. honestly my teacher... i say this with love. if indeed you are still here walking amongst us, you need to STOP WORKING right now, and take the time out to care for yourself. do what you wished for your mentor/teacher, james brown: step back and enjoy your life. enjoy your children while you still can.
but let's go back where we started and discuss your transcendence as it stands... it is as i said, the fifth month. i should always sense the so-called 'anniversary's' presence, since i acquire a deep unexplained sadness, and i begin to cry... i also have extremely fragmented dreams, which go nowhere. you appear in and out of them. this happens every time.
i cried on the bus, on the way back to portland... my head rested on the window. i should also know when the 'anniversary' is coming up, because i tend to feel a overwhelming sense of loneliness, as i review my life as it stands. i think about if i will ever have children in my life; i also think about how i don't want to raise those children on my own. i think about if everything i am doing has been done in vain. whether or not i believe this is the case any other time of the year does not even matter, as it is THAT MOMENT where i question everything.
and "i cry", as you once sang, "sometimes cos i'm confused". i think spontaneity is very good for someone like me (and travelling to san francisco was a good reminder of how much more spontaneous i need to be- and how much more spontaneous i USED to be. i lose so much of a sense of it living here in portland), and as much as i love this i also seek out some sort of stability. there are also so many things i want to do... spontaneity assists me in getting there, but i also need stability if i'm going to finish what i began. i long to roam and wander; but the older i get i clamor for a 'home life'. i want to be able to know i accomplished something, and i can look back and know that i did something positive in the world.
as i was crying there was something i wanted to say to you but i couldn't figure it out in time enough to tell you. i had a lot of questions but they were all so jumbled.
but yes, i did in fact go to san francisco for a few days... i did go for you, my dear teacher. i wanted to represent some of the things you have taught me. there is an event called 'prince vs. michael' (i have written about it to you before, as they do it sometimes in portland as well). the event, which took place on the 21st, was in san francisco. it was also the 7th anniversary of the event, where it's not so much of a battle than an honoring of the art of you and mr. nelson. dave and jeff, who put on the events, put a lot of love into what they are doing. they are good people.
going into the event, i only knew the people who were putting on the event. by the end i met so many wonderful, kind people. i ended up teaching some people some of your moves, and i did the 'thrillerdance' twice- once with a whole bunch of people and the other with one other person. i didn't even realise so many pictures were taken until a bunch were sent to me. people were amused that i had come all the way from portland to this event, and they wanted me to come to san francisco more often to the event, and to teach some classes. someone even jokingly suggested i move there...
one thing i did notice was that the people who were advocates of prince (the prince contingent, if you will) were very self-assured. they were self-assured, but far from pretentious. they gave me hugs, and big smiles. i thought of my sister when i saw them, and i thought of my friend barry. both of them love prince, and are quite self-assured people. of course i am making a widespread generalization (and i could be totally wrong), but this is based on the people i have met, and known. i am going to make another sweeping generalization here: people who i have known and met, and who love you tend to be somewhat sad.
i think the people who love you and your art recognise the pain you present. even though prince may have had pain in his life he presents his art to be boisterous. though in my opinion it's difficult to compare the both of you, i just wanted to say i noticed a general sort of attitude those who love prince have, and the one those who love you have.
nevertheless, the event was a whole lot of fun, and proved, in the end, if the music moves you then nothing will stop you. my legs and feet were in pain the next day; i was dancing from about 8pm until 2 in the morning, virtually non-stop. all that was left was, as you love to say, the dance. there were times it got very emotional for me, and i almost cried... it was as if your spirit were moving through me.
is it possible you were watching over me when i was in california? was it my intuition and my desire for spontaneity which led me to certain events?
the next day dave took me to a record shop (because whenever i travel somewhere i must see the record shops) where i met a man (also named michael) who met you some time ago... he saw the buttons on my jacket, asked if i was a fan and proceeded to tell me the story of how you two met. it was after the record shop was closed, of course; and you signed a record for him. he was a very sincere person. when he was contacted by news stations to speak on what he thought of you, he declined, knowing that his words would be twisted.
i'm sure that's very familiar to you...
the next day (which was my last day in san francisco) was a day of highs and lows... in wandering about this town (which i have not previously been) i opened myself up to more positive experiences; but in between was some sobering news. within one hour i found out a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer, and another friend with hearing loss. upon hearing this news i wasn't compelled to go out and 'live life to the fullest' any more than i already think we should; nor was it a reminder of the impermanence of life. it was what it was, it is what it is. however, you don't always expect to hear news of this sort, in the middle of wandering about.
as sad as that news was to hear, i decided not to dwell on it, as these are strong-willed, resilient people. i walked on and on that day for hours on end, just wandering... i ran into a chiropractic office with a copy of some information on the toxic ingredients in influenza vaccines, from a chiropractic perspective. i was intrigued, as that is not something i see every day. i walked in and asked if there was an extra copy of what was on the window outside, and a man screamed, "i have those buttons!" he exclaimed how he was the biggest fan of yours! it turns out that he was on a flight to london on the 25th of june, when he heard the news about you. he was going to go see you in concert. he even showed people on the plane what he was going to wear to your concert. since he could not see your show (due to the events which occurred) he instead saw 'thriller live' in the theatre. he also spent two days in 2005 in front of the courthouse, when you were on trial, supporting you.
and so of course i interviewed him.
these moments are what i miss; not having to plan things with others. just working around the excitement people share, and being open to whatever happens. i long for life in portland to be like this...
by the end of the day, my legs hurt so much from over four hours of walking- and by the time i got back to portland i developed swollen ankles. i could hardly walk without extreme pain, due to also sitting on a bus for almost 20 hours. but it was truly worth it. i hope i have honored your teachings...
during the bus trip we had to change over, stopping in sacramento. i occupied my time there by people watching (something i love to do) and reading some books i brought with me. there are no longer coin-operated televisions at greyhound stations apparently; they are now replaced with flat-screens perched just below the ceiling. it's quite distracting to have this blaring noise (even if it's not even that loud). being that i have not watched television regularly in 15 years, it's easy for me to not get sucked into the cathode rays. so, amongst my people watching i spot a young girl at a vending machine, sighing dramatically.
i asked her what was wrong. she pointed to the candy bar, stuck in between relinquishing its spot and protecting the other bars from being eaten. she lamented that she was getting the candy bar for her mother, and that she now lost money. i told her i would offer to get her another one, so that both bars would come out. she declined my offer.
moments passed, and i run to get change to get the candy bar.
i walked up to the little girl's mother, two candy bars in tow. she offered me one of them, and i just said no, it's okay. i think she mentioned that i did not have to do that, and i believe i said something to the effect of, 'it's okay...' i returned to my spot to wait for the bus and proceeded to read, when i looked up and saw someone walking towards me. it was this little girl whose mother was now enjoying her candy bars. she reached out and gave me a hug. she said, 'GOD BLESS YOU'. i asked her what her name was; she responded, 'justice'. i told her my name, and we shook hands. we bid each other safe travels.
that moment could not have been more perfect. justice? my teacher... were you watching this?
as the night wore on into the next day; in between reading i look up to find on this screen perched up near the ceiling, a report on how the doctor who supposedly was the man to give you a bunch of drugs before the fatal moment- is back at his office, at work. could this experience at the bus station get any more surreal?
delving back into my reading, i hear your name being called nearby... are these the ancestors calling again? i hear your name again, to find out there is a conversation being held about you. must i be called to 'set some things straight'? we shall see.
i walked over to the men having this conversation. when i told them i heard your name being called, one of them mentioned the context: there is always a case whenever you are dealing with women and children. i proceed to tell them to read the full transcripts of the trial, which are of course, online. in my reading of the transcripts i find, just like this case surrounding your transcendence, the two major cases concerning the allegations against you to have many holes. the prosecution was not credible.
but let's not dwell on the past like that... one of the men had one of your songs on his telephone- or some sort of i-pod or something. i proceeded to dance. i even showed them the dolls... i'm sure they thought i was crazy (at least that's what i read from their looks, body language and laughter) but i don't really care... i'm just sharing what you have taught me.
i returned to portland, and on the next day i worked, on this day, marking the 5th month... has time passed quickly, or has it ceased to move? surely, it waits for no one. therefore, in this time i will continue to learn from you, and share all you have taught, and are teaching me.
it was indeed wonderful to return home to lumbia, where she curls up on my lap (then paces back and forth, speaking loudly until she falls asleep) as i write this... when i returned, she looked at me with her wide eyes and asked, 'you went all the way to san francisco, for HIM?' and in turn i say to her, 'ah, my friend, someday i hope to take you there, and perhaps you will know...'
and she will.
it's been a while since we last spoke in this way my dear teacher, but i hope you've been hearing me loud and clear the whole time.
once again, i am beginning to feel pretty alone... in this time of mourning i still feel alone. so many are wrapped up in the wonder of your performance when ultimately, in the end none of that really matters to me.
i am quite open in my refusal to pay money to see the film which supposedly documents the rehearsals for the tour you claimed to be your final. "this is it!" you exclaimed. you already know how upset i was with you initially for agreeing to do the dates, even if it was only 10 dates you announced. but all that is unimportant now i suppose, as you were going to perform anyways. and since you were, yes, i did attempt to get a ticket (and you know how that went)... i really was upset at you though; i kept saying that there was no need for you to please some fans... they'd be okay if you just announced you were retiring from a life of performance to raise your three children without fail, or interruption.
then the inevitable occurred.
and so now, sony is documenting it. and they paid $60 million to get the rights to do that.
and so yes, i feel alone in my refusal to pay money to see this film. the general response is that i am missing out on the wonder that is you, and that the film is magical, and that you are a genius.
well, aside from the fact that i don't believe in the concept of the genius- we all shine in our own ways- i do not doubt that you have absolutely brilliant moments in the film. of COURSE you do; it is you! the thing is, i don't need to watch a bunch of clips edited to display the wonderment. and if this is going to be an actual DOCUMENTARY, i want to see the sad and the dark moments as well. i don't just want to see the wonderment. i want to see the backstage struggles you had with AEG in terms of dealing with contracts. i want to see your reservations about performing 50 shows- which is too much for ANYBODY, i might add. i want to see your struggles with insomnia, and maintaining the grueling schedule. i want to see you hunched over in pain. because this is what it appeared to be, just from looking at seconds of footage from the rehearsal which surfaced immediately after the news of your transcendence. i did not find you to be as healthy looking as so many others claimed you looked.
my heart went out to you because i wanted you to rest. i did not want you to perform. ever again.
and of course, you are resting now... for sure.
and so i refuse to agree with their profiting off of your transcendence. and so i feel alone because so many others are emotionally enraptured by your brilliance. for me though, the brilliance is not in your performance. that is not why i consider you my teacher. anyone can perform; it's what and how you teach that make the performances stand out.
but so many people are telling me i should go see this 'documentary'. and without arguing or discounting their passion for the film how do i say 'no'?
and of course, what if this is all a major trick, planned by you the whole time? what if this event was orchestrated.. what if all of it were orchestrated? that WOULD actually be a brilliant act. however...
for me that argument does not add up, as none of the money is going to some sort of non-profit. it does not add up for me.
i had the most surreal dream before i woke up last... and you were in it. this holds significance because it's the first clear dream i have had of you since all of this happened... all of the other dreams i had with you were so hazy. i'd see you, but you'd weave in and out, and i could never remember why you were there.
but this time, you saw me, and acknowledged me. just like all the other times.
still, there was a difference.
it was in the lobby of a bowling alley, in a bar/restaurant... you were sitting alone at a table, looking as you looked today (or this year). i approached you, and you smiled. i mentioned to you that i wanted to talk with you about the book i was writing (but had since stopped, since your transcendence); and before you could even respond, a mass of people appeared in between us. the words they were speaking were incoherent... i just know that somehow they wanted to be closer to you.
i became a bit sad, as i really wanted to speak with you about the book. i am still looking for guidance on it. as the crowd closed around you, you became transparent. i could see through you. the sounds around me became quieter and of less significance, as i sat down next to the crowd, clamoring for your attention. they were still acting as if you were not invisible.
the sounds were drowned out now, by my focus on an older couple, about 80 years old... initially, they were sitting next to each other, cuddling. about a minute later they were sitting across from one another, playing with objects on the table- salt and pepper shakers, utensils... they moved them around like chess pieces, then played with them as if they were dolls. they made a family of the items on the table. i looked at how much fun they were having with each other, and i began crying.
and then i woke up.
of course i am not sure what this means... does this mean i have acknowledged your transcendence in ways i could now be comfortable with? i don't know. does this mean you are soon returning as another physical form? i cannot say. does this mean you have actually given me an answer about the book? i am still trying to figure that out.
perhaps these answers may never come to me. perhaps they already did.
despite speaking with you everyday outside of the written word, i felt i needed to come back here and process things in this way... as of today it has indeed been four months since your transcendence; and it wouldn't be crazy of me to say that i still cry. in fact, just a couple of hours ago tears streamed down my face, thinking about the impact you have made, and most likely will never be made again by anyone else. there are people who certainly come close. but how many people can create a global phenomenon through one dance- a dance which people have painstakingly learned for weeks at a time, just to present it to the world.
this year i believe it was said to have been about 200,000 people (at least) all around the world who danced in your honor. i was one of those people, my teacher. i was the one in the wolf mask. last year, you looked down from a helicopter in L.A. to watch it (and i could imagine the joy on your face!). now, you can watch us all. you can watch us all do this dance, in honor of the joy you have given us through your art.
for me, i cannot say you have totally given me joy through your art... even though you have made me smile, for sure; mostly you have given me moments of intense sadness (through identification) and introspection. i have learned so much from you because of this. still, it does give me great joy to see so many around the world share one thing with each other. as you have written: "(we) keep on dancing and then, it is the eternal dance of creation. the creator and creation merge into one wholeness of joy. (we) keep on dancing and dancing... and dancing, until there is only... the dance."
in watching so many clips of people dancing around the world at the same time i did cry tears of joy... which turned into tears of grief. i thought about how i may never encounter another person as complicated, as intricate, as multi-dimensional, as wounded, as shy, as sensitive, as vulnerable, as learned, as joy-inducing, as contradictory, as caring, as lonely, as withdrawn, as revealing... as you.
and it makes me sad to know that i could never tell you how much you have taught me.
there is just so much to say but i will leave it at this right now, and speak with you outside of the written word.
thanks for listening; i'm sure the this month has been real busy for you.
look, i am going to be frank with you... it has been THREE MONTHS.
in the course of these three months i have been feeling hopeless, depressed, relieved, upset, confused, happy, conflicted... sometimes all in the same day.
but all of a sudden all of these tapes have been surfacing with your voice. i have fought with myself about whether or not to listen to them. but as in everything else i have fought about with you i decided to listen to some of them. the infinite sadness in your voice was so startling... i mean, i knew of some of the things you spoke of, and i even recognized your sadness from listening to interviews with you. but still, there was something which greatly startled me. it could be because some of these things i still see in myself. and i wonder if you did too... i wonder if there was ever a time, outside of being on the stage and outside of being with children, were you ever truly happy.
...and i wonder how, after all these years of being in total control, when you felt you may have lost control...
i feel so compelled to write so much after listening to you, but i am not sure of what to do. i feel this mental cloud that just won't go away. sometimes it still breaks for showers, and every so often there's even a break of sunshine. but overall the climate has not changed. the lack of seasons gets tiring after a while. however, seasons last for three months, so maybe, just maybe...
i am still trying to wrap my head around things still... i can laugh at some things actually (for a change) but you still weigh heavy on my mind. and not to mention feeling alone in this political situation, but that's a whole other story...
i have become quite obsessed in reading the many theories which have been popping up, about you still being physically here. that you are hiding out in switzerland... that you will return in a year... that you are alive and well in a drug treatment centre... that you faked everything because your 'death certificate' was not signed by a doctor (your sister signed it). that the movie coming out is going to explain the whole hoax. there are so many of them, it sort of makes me laugh.
i am still trying to make sense of you NOT being here still, and now this... is it wishful thinking, or supposed scientific fact? why can't people just accept the cycle of life, that your purpose on this earth was not physical immortality. i mean, the theories get more and more elaborate and detailed, as if presenting a transcript for an opening statement for a case or deposition. as detailed as it all looks, it still sounds fairly un-credible.
but still, the curiosity has gotten the best of me. i look into those large, deep, dark eyes of yours (the most beautiful eyes ever) and i still feel you. when i get lonely sometimes, i feel you. frankly i look at all of this, and i just laugh to myself.
or is it wishful thinking?
and yes, with my obsession about these theories, it just furthers the acknowledgement that i haven't gotten over you yet. this is getting to be a bit much... i have never had a grieving period this long before. i walked into a store, and i THOUGHT i heard your voice, with that signature hiccup/scream. but i couldn't figure out what song it could be. and then the music became clearer and clearer. and then i froze up, and i began to sink. i felt really stuck, when everyone else was moving along, doing their shopping. it's like, WHY did you have to be on AT THAT MOMENT!!?? then someone who worked there asked if i was finding everything okay. i'm sure he saw the trouble on my face, but i couldn't tell him what i was feeling at that point. i just don't have the energy anymore to explain any of this to people. when i left the store i just felt kind of sick. it's like everything you've ever done just flashed before me... there was no distinction of time, or of space.
this is the thing: why does love always feel so destructive to me? if i love you, i should be happy for you, right? you are in a better place. but this undeniable sadness is proving to dominate my spirit at random times. if it were actually the case that you were by some chance, still physically here, would it make my sadness go away? probably not. because i still would not know if you've heard me.
i do wonder if you will ever speak to me again, in some vision or dream... or are you so busy making sense of all the other dreams?
yes, i know. i know... it is true. you are not physically here. i keep telling myself this, but your presence haunts me, to the point where you never left. i'm not even sure how to explain this. your presence actually seems more tangible to me now, than when you WERE here. i feel stifled, and i don't really get it. i am frustrated that i cannot move. is this a major aspect of grief that i am still feeling?
i listen to you, and it feels so incredibly strange to do that. i mean, it's stranger than ever before. it's like, the notes are all different or something. it's like, there is something different in your eyes, your smile. i feel this lingering anxiety in all of it, that i cannot explain.
there is this film of you coming out now... they took footage of your rehearsals. they took hundreds of hours of footage and narrowed it down to a couple of hours. i am essentially opposed to this, but what can i do? i feel so powerless at this point, and alone. before i went to sleep my brain was working overtime, asking you all of these questions... how you feel about that, what would you have done... why are they making this film, why are they exploiting you? and as i was trying to get to sleep i heard someone calling my name... and i wondered if it was you calming me. because right after i heard my name i soon went to sleep.
i see you, and i see your smile, and they don't match with anything you are saying. it just doesn't connect. everything about all the magic and wanting to create it; everything about the love and its connection to the dance... i have been looking at so many of your photographs and all i am beginning to see is a reflection of pain. and obviously i wonder if what i am seeing is just a reflection of myself.
i said i wasn't gonna get any of those commemorative magazines to you... whatever those publications do it will be of no justice to you. they could never capture the essence of what you mean to me. but i have been getting them, and finding all of these images- ones i have seen many times, and ones i have never seen before. and in each image i find something new. and i keep telling myself to put you away for awhile. stop looking at these images. distance myself from the grief. i am trying to convince myself. but i can't look away. it's not that i'm trying to face my grief head on- i'm already deep in it. i am just still trying to make sense of this grief for you... someone i never even really knew, but has impacted my life in ways you could never know.
sometimes i get mad at myself and the voice starts going off... and people are STILL telling me, after almost three months, people who have not seen me since all of this happened, that i was the first person they thought about... i just want it to stop. i want the voices to stop. it's becoming hard to take, all the screaming happening in my head. i feel like all these people are screaming at me, and i don't know which way to go.
i just sigh... it's like tears are always on the surface. it's like this never ending sadness. but WHY? and even if i saw the film which is to be released next month of you it would be too painful to watch. because it's like you are there, and you're not. watching videos of you prior to all of this is still painful but i can deal with it... but now... all of this is just so surreal.
and with all these other people transcending right now as well, it just doesn't seem as strange. i recognize the cycle of life; the certainty of physical finality. but for you, even though i have accepted it it's still too difficult to grasp. because it feels like you are here.
lisa (my housemate) came back from italy, and brought me back this special edition of a european magazine. on the front lay a strip which read, "...n'est pas mort." it read that you are not dead. as i don't particularly like the word 'dead' and choose to believe that bodies transcend, i would concur. however i wonder if they are referring to you as a representation of cultural iconography. for me though, it hit me now more than ever with you how the soul does indeed live forever.
i feel you. it's becoming harder and harder to explain, but i do. and i do become frustrated by it, because as i mentioned to you before, i don't feel like i could love another person. it makes no sense, does it? i did not KNOW you. but people will never know the depths of the relationship i had with you. this is why it's so difficult, and frustrating. and it sounds like i am running in circles here.
it's not like if i 'moved on' i'd feel like i'd be hurting you (how could i?). i just feel as if the extent of the relationship i had with you could never be repeated. and, for better or for worse, i cherished what we had and i don't want that to change. as angry as i got with you i don't want that to change. your qualities could never be replaced and i do wonder if there would be someone with comparable qualities. i'm too fearful to find out. because i don't want to ruin anything. i don't want the rejection.
you see? i feel at a loss. with your transcendence, with my still coming to terms with it. with still trying to figure out what our true connection was. with why i can't just 'move on' like everybody else. with what i should do with this book i was writing.
what is it you said? to not take the talents given to you and have them cultivate and grow is "the biggest sin in the world." but tell me, where does this lie with me? how do i take what i have done (with my intention to share with the world) and not exploit you? how do i take my grief and share it with people? where do i find these people to share the grief with? i feel like there's so many things coming at me at once- do this, do that- but i can't tell where they're coming from.
and even through all of the pain in those images i discussed earlier, there is a beauty in you which could never be exploited, no matter how hard people try. this is what i am trying to get to, in the end... but first i need to glide past all the voices screaming at me.
this is another quick one, teacher... there is so much violence in the world. i know you know this, but the older we get it becomes clearer. or closer. the hope of childhood you always speak of, has been replaced with cynicism and power grabs. in learning about you and becoming connected with you i learned patience; and the child in me returned.
i'm sure you are so busy. i know i wondered if you were resting before, right after your transcendence, but now, since your physical is now buried in the earth you came from, i'm sure you'd like to have some time to yourself. you've spent so much energy on this earth doing your best to make people happy. but it was a whole lot of work, because there is so much emotional and physical violence.
but i have been calling you- as i am sure many have- and i haven't heard from you in some time. there is only so much you can handle. but i finally heard your name being called again, whispered amongst music playing at work. once again, i didn't know if it was you or the ancestors who had been doing it before. but it was comforting to know you were still around.
however, i got progressively sadder throughout the day. it was this inexplicable sadness. when people asked why i was sad, i just said your name. i am still extremely heartbroken over you. i am at a loss about everything right now. people ask me what i think about everything- your funeral, the way you transitioned, all of it- and at first what seemed assured now turns into self-doubt. and it all turns into depression.
i need to know. i just need to know.
and all this sadness turned into confusions, seeming miscommunication and tragic events.
do you remember richard, the man i told you about? well, i just found out he has transcended, as of a couple of hours ago... please show him around, okay teacher? i'm sure you will like him, he's a very nice person.
there is also someone i know who was arrested yesterday, just for taking photographs of an arrest. the irony about this is that just a week ago, i was with alan, and he was snapping pictures of an arrest (with a flash!) and nothing happened to us. i already told you about that. nevertheless, chris was arrested, and had his phone and camera confiscated (and i'm sure they have pulled up numbers on his phone)... he was in jail for 12 hours, detained and handcuffed. when he asked to drink some water, they pointed to the toilet. these people get trained and paid to dehumanize and abuse people.
and to top it off, i saw a video of a martial arts/karate class gone violent... karate is translated into 'empty hand', yet some folks are filled with ego. in this video (which apparently was from 1984) a senior black belt student literally beats up another man until he is bleeding from his head or ear (he kicked the man in the head), and they drag him away, like a pig or cattle at a slaughterhouse. the man ended up succumbing to the injuries- brain damage, i am sure. i was not expecting this to happen in the video, and i ended up feeling sick after watching it.
so right now, i need some positive thoughts... good thoughts. the one really good thing which happened was at work. i saw these three girls (one looked about 6, the other two looked around adolescent/pre-teen age). all three of them were extremely dark, with velvety-smooth skin. their skin was absolutely perfect. their beauty just stopped me in my tracks. they were these three young girls who were most likely running an errand for their family member or parent; just going about their day. i felt compelled to openly admire their beauty, and i did. i told one of the girls (she seemed to be the 'head' sister; the most assertive one) and she thanked me. her tone made it seemed like they were complimented on their beauty more often than not. i should hope so.
yes, i do realize, teacher, than out of all the sadness comes a ray of light. still, you must admit that it is hard to maintain a smile all the time. i had to find a space to cry at work... i have to remember , "life is still worthwhile..." i fight for peace of mind, but i also want to fight for the end of the cycles of abuse.
i ask you to be there with me in this fight, my teacher.
with everything that is going on, my heart does not sit well... sometimes i find myself talking out loud to you, asking you questions, never knowing whether or not you hear me... i have a growing need to know how you are... i need to be assured.
i did NOT watch your burial yesterday, i refused to. i can only assume it was televised, as some people have commented that your funeral was making them cry. i would rather just have what we shared in my heart, without being influenced by a camera's perspective; putting you away like the end of a chapter, frozen in time... but a song you once sang made me think of you in this time, this time the lyrics have changed a bit though:
"your physical is truly gone/but know your love survives, with this you live forever..."
will your soul finally get to rest now? will the form you took on in this plane finally be left alone? are you just shaking your head in confusion and wonderment, or just knowing fascination? my heart is heavy and i feel so confused right now. this is all i have to say today... i mean, there is so much more, but what i would say would just sound convoluted. i'm just waiting to hear from you...
hey, one more thing... if you ever see someone named richard (he was my colleague in radio) please tell him hello for me... he had a heart attack recently and then his brain collapsed too... his family took him off life support because he was not really responding, and struggling so much. so teacher, if you see him within the next days, weeks or month or so, please tell him i say hello, and thank you.
teacher, i know this day was so full, but i feel so empty right now... my heart was ready and open for the opportunities to come but right now i sit here writing this to you, and it is broken. i type, and the screen becomes blurry until i wipe the tears... this is becoming all too much... too much for me to even fathom.
i know you were there with the world on your day... it seemed like everywhere it rained just a little, and then the sun came out. i had a deep feeling you would be there with all of us, just smiling. as i was riding towards the park where the day for you was going to be held, i said to myself, 'it's gonna be a good day'... as it drizzled for a few minutes here i thought perhaps it was you crying, cleansing the environments of all the august 29ths you were physically here... and now, this is the first one where you were not. and you wanted everything to be fresh for us. this is a new life; a new formation you have taken on.
i got between 20 minutes and one hour of sleep, before i had to get up and go prepare for the event in your honor... despite being fairly delirious from a lack of sleep a wave of endorphins fell over me, because i knew that this was YOUR DAY, and it would be good. after all this time of preparing the radio show and this day, it was finally here. sleep did not really seem to be an option. it was 7 am when i left the house; the clouds were still out, and it was a bit cool, but you just knew the clouds were gonna let some sunshine in...
i went to the one store that was open at 7 am, to pick up the last of the supplies needed for the event. there were so many things i had strapped on to the back of my bicycle, i was not sure how i was going to lug it all into the store. there was a man standing around in the area where the bicycles were parked. i asked him if he were going to be standing there for a while. when he said yes i asked him if he could watch my stuff, and he was kind enough to. as the store was large, sometimes it's difficult to navigate quickly, in terms of time. i appreciate this man's patience, because i exited the store in what seems like 20 minutes. i told him that i was having an MJ event in the park, and that he should stop by. he seemed interested. he mentioned other events going on during the day as well.
as i placed my purchases on the bicycle, another man happened to be standing there: tony two hearts. as the bicycle fell over due to the weight of everything on it, he helped me to prevent the bicycle from completely falling over. thus beginning a relationship i will never forget.
as he noticed i have dressed as you, dear teacher, he proceeded to inform me that he was once a barry white impersonator. he then sang one of my favourite barry white songs. he actually did look not unlike barry white; with enough effort (and make-up) he'd greatly resemble him. he told me we'd make a great team of impersonators. i told him i was not an impersonator, but he sort of ignored this statement. he also continuously flirted with me, hoping i'd be his wife one of these days. he said that when he got to heaven he'd leave me everything. we would then meet again in the afterlife and seal a further bond, proving to everyone that our relationship lasted. despite having just met, he mentioned to everyone he spoke to that i was his 'lady friend'.
in most cases i would have critiqued or screamed on him immediately. there has to be a line of interaction which must be respected. i am not sure where it was developed in a man's brain that every woman would react favourably to a man's advances. somehow, i found something in tony immediately, that was different than most men who do the same thing. it was as if he was sent to me on purpose.
i told him where i was gonna be, and that he should come. as i was setting up, he showed up, and stayed for most of the day. initially he kept trying to sell the idea that i should be the lady in his life, but he did recognize that wasn't going to happen. he did leave for a brief period of time, to return as your 'bad' album was playing. i cannot recall which song he returned on; all i know is that when he returned, the songs represented the lead narration in what has unfolding... 'another part of me' rolled into 'man in the mirror'... as the lyrics of self-reflection emanated from the speakers, tony (whose birth name is lawrence; he is part irish and part samoan and initially identified as black) cried out that he wished all the hatred in the world would cease. tears rolled down his face as he wished for people to understand him. he just wanted people to be nice to him... why were people so mean to him? his head pointed to the sky, and he cried, and cried... and cried. the tears rolling down his cheeks, he embraced me. he said that he wanted there to be no more sadness in the world; he loved to make people happy, so he dances and sings.
each song which passed virtually matched with what he spoke of, as if those songs were an extension of himself. he opened up to me about so much, the bad and the good. he spoke of love, of violence in his childhood... of the advice his father gave him. he reminded me so much of you, teacher. i told him that you two were so similar.
the day went by so quickly... the first people to show up at the event were a mother, father and child, from arizona. the father signed something in the book i set out for you... he put down a poem he wrote for you. the mother spoke of how she put on a memorial for you when you transcended (in arizona), and no one showed up. she saw the poster for the event in the park, and she said he had to stop by. she had only been in portland for three days at that point.
then a woman (who grew up in new york city) and her child show up... people were really interested in the setup i did (especially the dolls)...
i even set up some cheese enchiladas for you, because i knew you loved them. i left a space where people could offer you things, and people offered everything from cookies, chips (tortilla and potato), fruits and cake, to a keychain.
there were so many types of people there... people recovering from drug addiction, parents, children, musicians... some weren't even aware of the event, and decided to hang out for a while, and talk about what you meant to them. the day was so positive, and touching. people wrote in the book set out for you, and they showed their love in so many different ways...
i know you were speaking, my dear teacher, because so many children happened to show up! children i didn't even know, nor did they even have a connection with what was going on (they were there for a whole other reason- a get-together for other purposes... a back to school gathering, and a birthday party). but they loved and admired you, and they got such joy out of your music. all the kids kept asking for 'beat it' and 'thriller'! they kept playing with your doll likenesses... they kept looking at photos of you... they went on and on about how much they loved you, and how you were the 'king of pop'. jesse, in particular, kept yelling about how you were his hero. umu continuously interpreted your moves her way, including the 'grab'... cameron was having his 4th birthday party, and he danced right along with the other kids to your music. these kids were not even old enough to catch you on 'motown 25' when it originally came on, but you resonated with them in ways that are inimitable. their love for you was so sincere. the way you have reached many generations is so phenomenal.
these kids were so funny... one little girl asked if you were my brother, because i looked like you... two seconds later a little boy came up to me and told me i looked like you. i was dressed in a more 'casual' outfit- i chose to be minimal, as i am still in mourning. but i also felt that, out of respect to you and your day i would not wear the more 'flashy' outfits. i did wear all black... a longer black button-up shirt, and black trousers, with the stripe going down the seam, with the black fedora. and still, some kids thought i looked like you... i still wonder, as this is not the first (or second) time to happen, if we are somehow related... tenth cousins or something.
in wanted to take all of these children home with me!!! they were all so sweet. i think their parents were doing a fine enough job, so they didn't need me... but still...
spending time with all of these children, as great as it was, gave me such an empty feeling inside. like you for so many years (before you became a father), i have a great desire to have children in my life.
despite there being a huge wave of positivity and love throughout the day, i could feel a growing sadness on tony/lawrence's part... he introduced himself and told people about his life... he even danced to make the crowd happy (and because the music moved him... he wanted to turn the music up louder than it could go!). i could tell people still found him strange, or a bit of an irritant. it can be lonely for someone like him, because people don't understand him. i felt contradictory about him- i wanted to protect him from all the people who obviously were laughing because they thought he was 'not well', or getting too close to them. at the same time i knew he'd be able to protect himself. i did not want to stand in his way of his mission to make people happy. by the time he was getting ready to leave though, he had such a look of rejection on his face. i knew this look very well. he was so happy throughout the day, but something was eating him up inside.
he gave me a kiss on my hand, then bid farewell... he told me he would see me soon. he mentioned something of our plans to collaborate. he left, and then he was gone. i really do hope i get to see him again. he is one of those people you meet every once in a while, who bless you with their presence. most people find them strange (or crazy), but they are here to teach us all something.
wherever he is now, i hope he is safe... i didn't tell him a thing about myself, and he opened his heart to me. that is one of the kindest things anyone can do.
the evening proceeded, and there was a pause in music (as we were getting ready to play thriller (as we were set to do the dance); benny placed himself on the opposite side of the park and played some bongos. i went over to him and told him we were going to work on 'thriller'. he thanked me for playing music, as his batteries would not waste that way. he then moved to the side of the park which was closer to the event, and played away.
denice (who is a foster mother) ended up doing part of the thrillerdance with myself and kate... kate and i both knew the dance but we had forgotten some of the sequence, since we had not done the dance in a while... but denice was just learning it, and she got it down so quickly!!! we moved on from the thrillerdance, and i began doing my interpretation of 'billie jean' (a song we already heard numerous times throughout the day- i was not expecting to repeat any songs, as i brought so many CDs to play!!!).
there were even MORE children i ended up meeting... a little girl came up to me and asked why i liked you... i asked her back, 'you got all day?' she responded back that she thought i was a boy (wow!). i love the honesty of children... they calls it as they sees it. their honesty is not intended to be malicious at all. they state what they think they see. as i was getting ready to answer her initial question she ran off to other kids, who were older (one of them may have been a sibling, or another family member. the little girl (who's name i cannot remember) ending up taking pictures with us.
daniel, denice's foster child, wrote to you in the book, that you were the best "hip-hop singer" he had ever known. see? you were even hip hop to some folks. you spoke to so many people in so many different ways.
when i was sitting with natalie (she came too, teacher), marcus came up to us and asked how you died... i wanted to say, 'he is NOT DEAD!' and explain the concept of transcendence to him, but that may have been too much. he just asked a simple question, so natalie and i answered together, filling in each other's blanks, from whatever information we knew. the answer i initially said was 'drugs', but really, it was more than that. how do you explain this to a little child? when we mentioned the doctor giving you too much... he finished the sentence. "medicine?" yeah! we both answered. this would not really be lying. i don't believe in lying to children. it's important to answer them in ways they can grasp, though. and i was trying to grasp how to respond to his question. when we responded to his inquiry, a sad, puzzled look resulted on his face. he knew something was not right with what happened to you. right after this he informed us that his mother cried over you. he pointed his mother out, and i told him that i wanted to talk with her, which i did. she was quite sweet, and thanked me for coming over and speaking with her. marcus (her son) drew his interpretation of you. he then went over to play bongos with benny.
finally, there was a child whose presence really touched me- kevin. he was a bit quiet, and he constantly disappeared and returned. he seemed like such a sensitive child, but also got along well with others. he was so fascinated with your doll likeness... he examined it numerous times. he got so excited about it he ran off and showed his mother! in the book to you, he wrote: "R.I.P. Michael Jackson, God bless." i gave him a piece of cake, and he thanked me and said it was really good. as he was getting ready to leave, i told his mother how she had some beautiful children... she thanked me, then said they were really excited about seeing the dolls, and me. they called me 'the michael jackson lady'... it's so funny... all the parents mentioned how their kids just ADORED you!!! they overstood the goal you were trying hard to reach- the truth of love...
the day was winding down into evening, and 7:00 was approaching (the time the event was to be over). everyone finally left. rachel was the last person to leave, around 7 minutes to 7), and i wondered where all the time went? to conclude this day in your honor, i had a moment of silence, saying a prayer and expressing my gratitude for all the people who came into my life on this day, and for you.
as i began to clean (the park was full of chicken bones, forks and cake pieces on the ground) alan stops by. when everything was finally cleaned we leave the park together, conversing about life... we end up seeing two people being arrested by the portland police- one arrest we were not too sure of the reasoning; the other arrest was due to a DWI. the poor guy couldn't even lift his leg without falling... the police arrested him without any sort of resistance. alan took photographs of the arrest, as he documents incidents happening around MLK blvd. as we were talking about what just happened, a woman walks us to us (having just come from the supermarket across the street) and questions us. she asked if the man was wrongfully arrested. she then began to say she didn't trust us, because we were too clean-looking. she spoke about the government and the state of the world.
she then moved onto asking me what the armband i was wearing was about. when she saw that it was for you, she then defended your honor, then proceeded to tell me i was doing a good thing in honoring you, but i needed to make money in NOT focusing on your celebrity status. she then returned to speaking about the state of the world, the senate and why that system should be changed, and the coup in honduras. she moved around so much in what she was saying, and she never really stopped talking. we were there for what seemed like 40 minutes to an hour. i eventually left (having to go get lumbia some food; i thought alan was going to go with me, but he remained there speaking with her...
again! she seemed to be one of those people who just end up in your life... you don't know why, but they just do. and you learn a little something. she said so much, you had to connect dots and trim a little to get to the actual point. and when you finally realize the point, you learn something every time.
i am sure i have missed out so much about this day, and may have even gotten the order/timing of some things wrong; all i know is that this day- in your honor- was really special. i have been blessed with so many gifts on this day, it's virtually impossible to name them all. didn't you once allude to the fact that the best present of all was love?
well, i think you received an abundance of it on this day, where in this life you would have been 51... however, rather than celebrate the years which are NOT to be had in this form anymore, we should honor you by example. we should share what we have learned from you. we shall present you presents by remaining present...
and even through all of these tears i still shed, i thank you so very much, my dear teacher.
i read the transcript to one of the speeches i had heard from you so long ago; the one where you spoke at oxford about the need for children to be loved, and for families to become units again. reading it gave me so much joy, because this is the person i love, and learn from... this is the person who has lived through much pain, but is looking for ways to find a place for healing. this is the person who constantly looked to the truth in love.
i love this speech, because i saw you working through so much in your own life. you used your work with children as a vehicle to deal with and make amends with the 'disappointments and confusions' in your life. despite this, there still seemed to be such a fog you could not see through.
and even with all the joy i have gotten from reading the transcript, i still feel this ultimate sadness, not just about you, but for myself... every time i feel like i am getting better emotionally, there is a fog witch returns.
so i need to feel your smile right now, dear teacher.
i have been feeling so overwhelmed working on this radio show for you, i got extremely nervous/anxious about it. i just kept thinking of the worst scenarios to occur, before and during the show... all day i had butterflies. i have not been this nervous about a show since i first started doing the show... i felt a mixture of wanting to throw up, and losing my appetite.
so now, the show is done... it has aired. i have no idea really who listened to it. i suppose i can say that i feel a sense of accomplishment now, after working on it for almost a month, but i don't. i still have anxiety over the show, i still have worry; even though it's already aired. i just need to hear one response, to know if i have done you any justice.
it's like every other week i get responses... and now this time it's not the same.
on my way to the station i stopped for a pedestrian at a crosswalk... for the second time a pedestrian told me to go, instead of having me wait for them. this time was different. this woman (most likely around my age) let me pass, but she walked as i began to ride. she approached me and she exclaimed, 'you are so pretty!!!' then walked off. it sort of threw me off... i mean, people tell me that sort of thing, that i'm pretty. but this time, in the anxious state i was in, it threw me off more than usual (and it usually does throw me off). i just wanted to cry out, 'but you don't even know what i look like, i am wearing sunglasses!' i wanted to say that i don't look as pretty without them.
and i began to think about you, and how all these people thought you were beautiful, but you didn't seem to think that way about yourself (most likely due to being told the opposite growing up). i grew up like that... i know people say that it's easy to just not believe all these things you are told when you were a kid; but when you've had it drilled into you for so long, it's not that easy to unlearn it. i still struggle with people giving me compliments about my looks, because i don't see what they see.
and whenever i see footage of you pinning your eyes to the floor whenever someone gave you a compliment on your looks, i see myself in that.
and after she told me that i was pretty, i rode my bicycle and i cried.
and as i keep saying, for me it doesn't even matter what you look like... i find such beauty within you, that it transfers to the outside. through your sad, beautiful eyes. i'm not too concerned with what you look like. except for the fact that i was really concerned that you were too skinny. you were such a tiny man. i was really worried for you. that smile of yours was so beautiful. the way it radiates a room...
and i am looking for it right now...
and i went home and looked into your eyes and asked you if you heard the show at all. i really need to know if i did a good job; if you were humanized, at least a little bit.
my anxiety has yet to end, as there is still the event on saturday- YOUR day... will your spirit be all over the park, and all over the WORLD, on this day?
maybe i will hear from you then...i will look for the rainbow (without rain) in the sky...