David’s Bowie death really got me. In a way that a celebrity death (beyond Princess Diana) hasn’t gotten me. And here’s why.
David Bowie is, arguably, the first contemporary rock star of my generation to die a natural(ish) death at an old(ish) age. Yes, he’s twenty-five years older than I am but to me and mine, he was who we wanted to be at a formative age. He was the pinnacle of cool, but more than that, he spoke of isolation, of feeling so very out of place, of being yourself anyway, damn it. He helped us turn and face the change, we sweet pimply adolescents. We marched to his Fashion, we felt a million miles from Earth - alone - like Major Tom.
When I heard he had died, I was swamped with sadness. It took me awhile to dissect but at heart I felt like a part of my youth had died. That all those moments that I spent listening or dancing to David Bowie with all those people that I loved, that they were gone. Not just the moments but the people.
Of course, the moments live in my heart and the people are still very much here. But Megan and Evany and I at fifteen spazzing out and swinging our hair to Let’s Dance at a school dance-a-thon, Gib plucking phrases of Heroes on his acoustic guitar when we were nineteen and camp counselors in Upstate New York, even just the twenty-five-year-old me belting out Modern Love at the top of my lungs in my beater Mazda 323, windows down to catch the breeze on a hot LA afternoon; all of that feels lost, feels gone.
It is gone, I suppose. And this is the first good-bye of many as those of us born in the sixties and seventies age. We’re mortal, too, it turns out. But somewhere within us we’re still these children that you spit on as we try to change our world. And we’re quite aware of what we’re going through, thank you very much. Turn and face the strange.