June 26, 2009

Michael Joe Jackson, 1958-2009

--photo from examiner.com

This is the Michael Jackson I loved. And still love.

As the years passed and his appearance changed, I think I always held this image of him in my mind. It's hard to let go of a dream, even when you know it's a dream.

"I Want You Back". "ABC". "The Love You Save". "Darling Dear". "Mama, I Think I Found That Girl". "I'll Be There". Every one of these songs holds memories of a happier time, a more innocent time. Smooth harmonies, perfectly rounded afros, energized dancing and singing, gloriously bright, colorful stage costumes with fringe and bell bottoms, "bubble gum soul"...when I watch videos of the Jackson 5 during the early 70s, I realize how long ago it really was and how old I really am.

One of the girls I rode the school bus with argued endlessly with me about why the Osmonds were better than the Jackson 5, or J-5 as we called them back then. Little did we know our heroes struggled with their own personal demons. We were not ready to know such things, or to understand them.

Instead, we just loved them. They looked so much like us, their smiles were echoed in the expressions of our brothers, cousins, the cute boy down the street. They, too, were from the industrial midwest (Gary, Indiana), and found a way to fame and fortune based on talent and hard work. That's what we used to call "family values."

As for Michael, I loved the fact he was only a year older than I. My girlfriends and I dreamed about marrying him one day, moving to a big mansion in California, and having five kids--all with names that began with the letter M.

It was not to be. As time passed and we became older and more perceptive, we realized the dream was just that. But we were never regretful or ashamed of our love for Michael. We were so proud of his fearless stage presence, his mind-bending dancing, his relentless talent.

The child molestation case, the questionable marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, the even more questionable marriage to Debbie Rowe, the baby-dangling photo, and the rumors of financial mishaps tempered our love just a bit.

RIP Michael. We still love you.

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