Age sixty-nine is not young, but it is too young to die….
I didn’t think I’d be this affected by the death of David Bowie on January 10, 2016 when he had just turned age sixty-nine, but here I am writing a blog about it….
I wasn’t what you’d call a major David Bowie fan. More like a minor one. There were many songs he wrote that I liked, but I don’t own any of his albums. I had friends that idolized him. There was the friend in high school that loved everything about him and since I was an artist (or aspired to be) she wanted me to paint a picture of his Aladdin Sane cover pic… which I did… not understanding why…. Then, in my freshman year of college I encountered another Bowiemaniac in my roommate…. Our dorm walls were covered in Bowie posters and I acquiesed because she put up with my Paul McCartney posters, which she found bewildering. This was when Bowie taught me understanding and acceptance… which I didn’t realize at the time.
You see, my freshman roommate and I were complete strangers, thrown together by whatever haphazard means the college used to pair up students in dorms back then, and we were as opposite as can be. She was the extrovert, party girl, looking for peer approval and validation through wild parties with popular types, and experimented, hoping to find the approval she didn’t find in her dysfunctional home. I on the other hand was quiet, terrified and repelled not only by her lifestyle but her phony friends that were trying to find themselves through wild nights of crazed partying that only resulted in bladder infections and flunked classes…. How am I going to get through this nightmare, I asked myself. Then a bizarre change happened half way through the semester. I made her laugh. She was shocked that such a boring, mousy loser like me could actually have a sense of humor. Actually, a very dry, sarcastic humor that took her off guard. We found a very key connection. After that, we continued to go our separate ways and do the separate things we enjoyed, yet somehow found common ground when we’d meet up briefly in the dorm room. We’d share stories and laugh and then go to sleep. We developed a respect for one another. Despite our Grand Canyon differences, we managed to respect each other enough to not kill each other before the year was over. In fact, I think it helped pull me out of my shell a bit, and I’d like to think she learned not to write off people so quickly from an initial impression. I listened to her endless plays of Bowie, Buddy Guy and Phoebe Snow albums, but I listened and learned about music I wouldn’t have heard otherwise and gained an appreciation of them.
Of course, we lost touch over the years but I am thinking of her now and hoping she is coping with the loss of her idol. He truly was one of a kind… a bold, creative and independent creature, showing me how to find common ground and acceptance with those we find so different and bewildering. I thank him for making it cool to be weird and a misfit, because I was, and always will be, the eternal misfit. I am now looking to the stars for some Ziggy Stardust, hoping that despite our differences, we all can manage to find some kind of common ground and get along peacefully in this crazy place we call Earth.