I can’t claim a lifetime of stalwart Bowie fandom. Somehow, even though my brother U. decided to introduce me to a Brian Eno album at a very early age (four?), he skipped the Bowie lesson. My other brother, G., picked up the slack, but he wasn’t a huge fan, I don’t think.
No one in our house actually owned a Bowie album until I bought Let’s Dance when I was in sixth grade. It was the second album I’d bought, ever (the first was Men At Work, whose song “Overkill” I was aiming to write about here until current events superseded that post).
I didn’t just own the album, I inhabited it. Turned it upside down and inside out and tried to figure out who all the personnel involved were. We were so information-poor back then, and we didn’t even know it. I did buy a Let’s Dance poster, hanging it, as I told J, at a very 80’s diagonal on the wall of my room.
I’m tired tonight. Something about waking up to very sad news and bearing it all day. I was a mess at breakfast, playing song after song for the kids. And I’ve been working some more on a long-overdue essay (overdue only in my mind, of course) and it’s giving me a hard time, like my brain is not yielding something important. So I’m not going on at my usual length.
Facebook turned out to be a good place to mourn this loss, to discover new and interesting video clips and laughs. It was a digital wake. Also offering up cool and unexpected tidbits, such as my mom actually knowing who David Bowie was. Or such as my neighbor from across the street I grew up on, who comes from what seemed to us a very straight-laced military family, posting to say that Bowie was one of his first concerts in the late 70s.
I was almost late to an important meeting at school, to reauthorize Young J’s classroom therapies, because after I got home from the gym I couldn’t tear myself from YouTube. So much music, over so many years. While waiting to go in to the meeting, I saw one of Young A’s teachers, a Bowie fan, on her lunch break. We hugged.
I’m furious it was cancer, of course I am. We may not find out what type of cancer. It doesn’t actually matter. He was felled by the same thing that has attacked me. It is hard not to feel some kinship. He was also loved deeply, and I think I know how it feels to be the recipient of such love. In the end, I imagine, nothing else matters but that.
Young A and I went to pick up Young J after his guitar lesson. I had told Young J to bring up Bowie in class, and I wondered if the teacher had done anything. When we got there, we saw the chords for “Space Oddity” up on the board. The teacher said, “There really wasn’t anything else we could have done, today.” I almost started crying again.