...no, not THAT closet. The "I heart Michael Jackson" closet.
I wanted to marry Michael Jackson when I was a little girl. In fact, my best friend Michelle and I would fight over him--and the loser got to marry Rick Springfield.
When I received a text from my older daughter that said, "Michael Jackson died. Cardiac arrest." I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.
I was the first of my crowd to get the news--and from my daughter, no less. Later, when I asked her how she heard, she said that her best friend called her and told her that she should let her mom know.
"Why?" Savannah asked her friend.
"Because it seems like something your mom would want to know."
Amanda didn't know I had a deep-rooted fondness for the King of Pop, but she did know that I'm a pop-culture whore.
That night I found myself glued to 8 different channels, holding my own personal vigil for the gloved one, until 3am. I didn't want to be watching 8 channels into the wee hours of the morning, but I couldn't stop myself.
For someone who grew up in the MTV generation, there isn't much that's as fascinating as watching the video to Billie Jean, Beat It, or Thriller. In fact, I saw the full-length version of Thriller that night for the first time in over a decade--and I still found it scary.
When I called my mom to tell her that Michael Jackson had died she said it reminded her of how she felt when she'd learned that Elivis died, or John Lennon. We talked about the funeral of Princess Diana. The most profound thing for me is how these people, who very few ever know personally, make such a huge impact--on a global level--an impact that allows people to feel their loss personally.
The other thing that I realized as I watched video after video was that the Michael Jackson that I had been so fanatical about had been gone for a very long time. And this finally gave me permission to mourn the loss of that bright star.
There is no question that Michael was bizarre and did many good--and many highly suspect--things. He was a sad and strange man, who lived and died under the eyes of the world, for better or for worse.
Just as he was not only his artistic genius, he was not only his freakish appearance or suspected pedophelia.
My brother reminded me of the time our mother called us from work (she was a waitress at Marie Callendar's in Idaho Falls) and told us that Michael Jackson was at the restaurant. We didn't believe her. She said she was coming home to get us. I screamed all the way to the restaurant. When we got there we saw a Michael Jackson impersonator. My mom thought it was hilarious. I wanted to cry.
The man that I watched in tabloids and news coverage over the past fifteen years or so was not the man I screamed at the thought of meeting. I don't know if it was a result of my own innocence, his amazing talent, or the simple desire to want to be part of something that looks, and feels, and seems...great.
For whatever reason, the passing of this icon has impacted me. And that, in itself, I don't really understand. But when I watch him do the moonwalk, or perform any number of other dance moves that only he can do justice to, all I feel is that same excitement and awe that my younger self felt as I tried to memorize and duplicate just a little bit of the magic that Michael Jackson shared with all of us.