Why Getting Older Is Hard to do When You Are Older
And under the spell of cultural royalty
I lost my youth when Michael Jackson died and his passing became a heartwrending circus of events that piled up to equal the realization that almost everything I had bet on while frolicking through those fragile years — couldn’t withstand the heat — borne from the changing times.
Things were already shifting towards the direction that we have now found ourselves. An icon, a musical genius, the wizard of movements and the King of Pop who made fans all around the world bow with tears and gratitude — was reduced to a shell of a fallen star with a polluted past. And the uncanny ability to generate sordid headlines that eventually killed any hope of him reclaiming the throne he worked so fucking hard to earn.
I am one of those people who can’t decipher how to process a legacy that I had a hand in creating. Did he or didn’t he? How could he have died in such a graceless manner? Who was Michael Jackson and why couldn’t the demons permit him to die in greatness and live on in my memory — secured in the knowledge that I worshipped the anointed.
Whitney Houston aged me beyond compare. She reduced me to the rocking chair and stole my right to Dance with Somebody Who Loves Me. Before her sudden and tragic demise, I was in denial — despite all the signs that warned of the dangers ahead. The horrific Reality TV show that featured her and the ones she loved — thrashed about like items for sale that desperately needed to be bought without dignity.
I will never forgive Bravo for setting the standard that VH1 has eloquently perfected when it comes to whoring Black women against themselves — against each other — for the eyes of Black women who watch and shamelessly jeer and encourage — without a hint of disgust.
There is no doubt that Whitney never recovered from the humiliation of giving the public the very worst that she could muster. Drugs and more drugs, sporadic mood swings, a mother’s plea for her daughter’s life, the hopelessness that can’t be thwarted after too many years basking in the spotlight of a voice — that will never be matched and the beauty that lit up my bedroom.
Each time Whitney spun around my Walkman as I punished the room with my very best rendition of all her greatest hits — was a heavenly misplaced adulation that has converted to a magnificent grace — I will always cherish.
I thought Whitney was flawless. My mother bought that album believing the same and was more than happy to supply a role model who was famous and pure. But, it was all a lie. She wasn’t even close to being the person I erected in my mind. She was a bloody mess and she died that way.
Getting older is hard to do when you are older.
The news wasn’t unexpected. Carrie Fisher, better known as Princess Leia, died after suffering a heart attack on a plane flying her back home. The details have been revised to “cardiac arrest” — but does it even matter?
Star Wars was the first movie that demonstrated my need to be transported to a realm that my impressionable mind could welcome without prejudice. I didn’t even understand how it was possible. How could I be sitting in my seat — and yet be lifted to heights unknown by the music, the images, the stars peppering the galaxy, the robots that beep to the beating of my heart and the characters that call me — friend.
Princess Leia wasn’t my favorite. I actually had an unhealthy attraction to Han Solo and that was only because he fell for the Princess — who refused to allow his advances to destabilize the mission to fuck up The Death Star and hamper the The Dark Side of the Force.
The summer of 1983 was a good one. First off, the promised vacation to The United States with my mom and younger brother started off as a joke and then manifested. There were so many movies to see and I was out of my mind with joy at the selection. Jaws 3-D was out of the question for obvious reasons. Superman III needed my allegiance and I was ready to oblige.
Return of the Jedi was a religion that I adhered to with a choir of hymns humming in the background — as I watched Princess Leia slay Jabba the Hut, and then join the fighters as her soon-to-be revealed brother, Luke Skywalker went off to face the wrath and eventual submission of their father — Darth Vader.
Before that — she was ready to risk it all for the love of her life — Han Solo — who was being held prisoner by the giant blob that she strangled while donning a metallic bikini that I swore I would replicate — once I grew up.
I never did.
What I did do — is buy every merchandise teased at the kids of my time who needed evidence to validate an era that would never again dazzle us into believing that life will always be this way.
What a cruel lie. I grew up and as I age — my body does an immaculate job of reminding me that my days are numbered. The mirror that once embraced — spits truths as I configure the lines under my eyes, the bleached out hair that used to be a shiny black, and the scars of an existence that is almost halfway over.
Today — I reclaimed the years that I lost through time and space. I stood strong and confident and found the 10-year-old girl who wore the half-sleeved shirt with the imprint of the long-haired Princess — who never faltered.
She kept up her end of the bargain with fortitude and the assistance of a starry-eyed legacy that will continue to endure.
Turns out my heroes weren’t all disappointments. I got it right this time. Carrie Fisher wasn’t a figment of my imagination. She was real. She battled her demons with the same feistiness that I try to implement in my own life story. We have quite a bit in common. She was never this unreachable heroine with glossy buns and delicate features
She was everything I imagined and when the truth hit — it was gratifying and comforting.
I am not afraid to get older. If Princesses can find their way back from a galaxy far, far away — so can I.