Saturday, August 29, 2009
michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 41)
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.
your humble student,