So I’ve written a number of posts in my mind as different things happen in the world, but I always stop when I realize those posts are more about what I think about something than meeting your needs as a client or blog reader. As a result: no posts.
And so in the spirit of a new year, frustration with stagnation, and good old-fashioned “what the heck”-ness, I’ve made a decision. I’m going to write about what I want to write about, and hope it piques your interest too. If not and you hate it, well, you are able to unsubscribe, no hard feelings. But since the truth is that I don’t know how to relate to you – or anyone, really – without being my wholly transparent self, this is the only way to go for me. I hope you dig it.
That was a long intro to what I was initially thinking about, which was the recent death of pop icon George Michael. I feel like I probably don’t have to explain who George Michael is – was – to you, especially if you had a boom box or any kind of radio in the 80s. And even if you didn’t and have no idea who GM was, by now you’ve seen the cover of People magazine and figured out who he was to the world.
To me, he was something different: my first hard-core celebrity crush. (I say that as if there have been a constant string of them; there haven’t. Though if Jamie Fraser arrived on my doorstep tomorrow I would not be displeased. Thank you Outlander.)
I loved George Michael to the full extent my 14 years could muster. Let me be clear here – I am not talking about 1983 Wham!-era GM, with the floppy teenybopper hair and too-short white shorts. I am talking about the grizzled ripped jeans Ray-Ban aviator GM, newly reinvented for his Faith album in 1987. When I was 14, GM’s slinky moves and honey-coated vocals woke me up in a way I hadn’t known I was asleep until then. And so my plan evolved:
1. Get tickets to the George Michael concert.
2.Make eye contact with GM at said concert, at which point he would feel the same connection I did and immediately fall in love with me and commit himself to me for life.
3.Live happily ever after.
There were some problems with this plan, of course – not the least of which was that GM turned out to be both homosexual and not a pedophile, so 14 year-old me really didn’t stand a chance. But, the heart wants what the heart wants.
My best friend and I managed to get tickets to a concert six months in advance, and what a deliciously torturous six months it was. Every night I made the rounds around my room to cross that completed day off each of my six calendars, put up especially for the GM countdown. I giggled with my friend in math class and daydreamed when I should have been learning sine and cosine (still have no idea). I swooned when GM graced the cover of Rolling Stone, memorized important details of his life gleaned from the article (he keeps his stubble perfect with a size 10 razor!) and worshipfully taped it at eye level on my wall. To me, he was perfect, and I knew we were destined to be together.
Fast forward to the concert. Suffice it to say my plan didn’t quite work out. For one, our seats were so far back George was about an inch high, so no chance for eye contact and that instant love connection. Also, there were about ten thousand other screaming teenage girls in the stadium, similarly convinced they were George’s destiny. So, some competition.
That night turned out to be both the heady epitome of anticipation and excitement realized, and a huge reality check: I was not going to marry George Michael. I was just going back to 8th grade on Monday morning. I would still listen and love his music (and him), but it was not meant to be after all. A blow to be sure, softened marginally by the concert t-shirt I left with.
As I think back on my “George period” now, I am struck by a couple of things, like how powerful my dream-life was to keep me happy and expectant all those months! It’s a testimony to the strength of teenage hormones to be sure, but I think there’s a lesson in there too about the strength of belief, of – ironically – faith. Just having it made me happy, even if I couldn’t have him.
Second, how amazing it felt to love someone so purely whom I’d never met. I was all in, people. When the kid down the street (my former crush before George danced into my life) somewhat reactively insisted that George was actually gay, I was unperturbed. Clearly these were sour grapes, and after all, hadn’t he seen the video for I Want Your Sex? Please.
Being all in felt great, and it makes me realize now how seldom that happens in grown-up life. Be it with friends, family, even a beloved spouse, time and experience leave little heart-scars that constantly warn us to self-protect, even unconsciously, even a little bit. And that takes us away from being all in, one step backwards at a time. It makes me wonder about the cost of NOT being all in – what we sacrifice to stay “safe”. And are we really?
Deep thoughts, I know. But after the past week or so receiving condolence calls from friends and family who empathically recalled my past with George, it seems appropriate. Especially when I consider that even after the concert and my real-life return, I always kept a deep affection for George. When he came out as gay my heart wished him happiness and love (even as a tiny part of me unreasonably wept). When he was caught soliciting sex from an undercover cop in a men’s restroom I resisted believing at first, then felt sad that he seemed so lost. When he came out with his latest album (Patience), I faithfully bought it and listened. Even through the years his sweet voice still reminded me of pure young love, when it’s easiest to fall for someone you never have to speak to in real life. And when I received news of his death on Christmas, I truly grieved. His was an intense, wild life full of experiences most of us will never have, and unfortunately (at least to me) in the final analysis it didn’t seem as if he ever found his true contentment. For me, George’s death was again the intrusion of cruel life on sweet hope. Fifty-three is too young to die, and forty-three feels too young to have your first teenage fantasy crush leave this earth. It made me feel old.
So that’s it; my George Michael musings. I felt the need to end our connection with some heartfelt acknowledgement of the role he played in my growing up. His voice will always remind me of the beginning of that crazy foreign trip into being a teenager. Lucky for me (and all of us), his music is forever preserved, even if the parts of me it helped form are distant or different now.
Of course, I do have twin 11 year-old daughters. Something tells me I’ll be revisiting the realm of fantasy-crush-intense-