Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I'm Living On

You may as well tell me that robins no longer exist, or that water isn't wet, for all the sense that hearing of David Bowie's death makes.

I was up at 2am, because I always am, when I heard. And then I sat around on the internet for three hours, disbelieving and hoping it wasn't true. Too sad to go to sleep, aching in that strange sort of loneliness that only happens in those imaginary hours of the morning.

I considered calling my friends, my teammates, because it felt like they should hear it from a friend, not from the internet. On the other hand, I could also give them a night of uninterrupted sleep, a few more hours of not knowing that we suddenly existed on a planet that was a little dimmer. I let them sleep.

I've never called Bowie one of my favourite artists. He's always been more like a puppetmaster, like background noise. Knowing, in the back of my head, that almost everything I do love is here, in some way, because of Bowie. Now he isn't, and it's like the someone has removed the keystone and everything is just sagging over.

I got to see him, once. In 2002, I dragged Sam Hoffberger (or Sam dragged me? That seems more likely) to New Jersey for Moby's Area 2 tour. Moby set the whole thing up, and asked Bowie to headline. Bowie turned him down, and insisted on opening for Moby. I remember, though can't find the quote, Bowie saying that it was Moby's show, he deserved the headlining slot. That always stuck with me. I remember next to nothing of the set. It was a long, long day, and my brain had already been broken about a hundred times by every single person on that bill. I do remember that there were many, many empty seats. Way to drop the ball, New Jersey. (I went back to my LiveJournal to see if I wrote a review. I did. I was uniformly terrible. "I was tired, so I spent most of the set sitting down. Then I ran to go see Carl Cox." Thanks for nothing, past-me.)

And then, of course, there's my team. Were it not for a long beaten horse about David Bowie's dick, would I even be here, me, now? Sure, we'd probably all have ended up together as Loud Assholes Who Yell At You a Lot or something anyway, but there's a unique magic to David Bowie's Package that I don't think anyone but David Bowie could have ever inspired.

If not for David Bowie's Package, when I got to Colorado, what would Megan have thought was the coolest fucking thing ever, and what would have made it clear that she was going to be the best person I found out there? I'm sure we'd have bonded over something else, but if I start imagining a world without Bowie, in loose threads and lost jokes, it all starts to unwind itself.

He existed at all, and we're all the better for it, but right now that's not enough to fill the emptiness that he's left behind. I think a lot about mortality, and have mostly reconciled that I, and everyone I love, exists within it, but somehow, Bowie seemed beyond that. I think I always imagined him as our Tony Bennett, a billion years old and still cranking out new music with whoever tomorrow's Lady Gaga is. I assumed that Bowie would show us how to age not just gracefully, but stupendously, how to keep inventing ourselves as we keep on marching over the hill and in to the stars. Maybe a tiny part of me figured him for a Timelord.

I'm struggling to define chaos in this, to explain loss, to grieve as poetically as I feel like he deserves. Nothing I've said here is novel: over the last few days, there have been scores of other people saying other things, all of them better than I have, or will ever be able to. (Read them. They make my heart hurt a little bit less.)

So there's this: David Bowie had a profound effect on not just what I like to listen to, but to who I've chosen to make family, and how I interact with the world outside my brain. He very existence enabled some of my most treasured, longstanding friendships, and merely missing or thanking a person whose entire lifetime makes up such an intrinsic component of my own social DNA seems wholly inadequate.

I am glad he was here.

David Bowie's package rules.

Not even going to pretend I didn't steal this from PJ's Flickr album.
2008 World Rock Paper Scissors Championships,
Team David Bowie's Package

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