Oh, 2016, you were a pain. Here I thought I had survived the death of my mother, turning 40, love/career disappointments, turning 40, the transformation of my country into a Banana Republic and, climate change (holy shit, California can get cold). I knew this season would be a hormone-filled time and figured the second holiday season after my mother died would be difficult, but on the heels of personal and political events, holiday-spirit shattering PMS, an 8 hour bus ride, and a couple of deaths too many (celebrity and otherwise), it hit me like a medical bill that doesn’t quite meet the deductible.
While home in the East Bay Area (Berkeley, Oakland, El Cerrito for those not familiar with the Bay Area…hella chill), I dug through some old boxes to find this signed autograph of Carrie Fisher that I received when I joined her fan club in 1978-9(?). I could not believe that the ink with which she signed her name belonged to a pen that she may have TOUCHED WITH HER OWN HANDS.
People sometimes told me I looked like Carrie Fisher and I took that to mean that we had a “connection.” As I got older, I admired Carrie Fisher’s great comedy writing in “Postcards From The Edge,” and, really, the underlying message that her mom was still the most important person in her life. What struck me most about Debbie Reynolds passing one day after her beloved daughter, besides the tragedy for her granddaughter, was that it seemed like a testament to the fact that they were each other’s greatest love.
While in old-crap-digging mode I also found an old journal from my junior high school years in which I must have written the word “love” 1,000 times. I also wrote that “being funny and sophisticated” are “the most important things in a personality.” (I STILL BELIEVE THAT. HELL YA 14-YEAR-OLD SELF.) But mostly I wrote about “love.” Sometimes I loved life or my friends, but usually I loved a male figure who I just glanced at while played Centipede at the Arcade. “Love” was the promised land, acceptable heroin. As a teenager, and well, now, I lived only to find only this thing called “love.”
On New Year’s Eve 1985 when my best friend and I either snuck out of her parents’ house or just walked out because they weren’t there — or just walked out because they didn’t really mind if two 12-year-olds walked the streets at night — and met two boys. “Purple Rain” had lodged Prince into our hormones (and he’s still there), and as my friend pointed out, it’s no accident that the mixed-race boys we walked with at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1985 looked a lot like him. Behind us that year, was the year of pop’s greatest hits. Ahead of us was “Take On Me” by A-ha and “Part Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder. We were on the road to finding “love.” COULD LIFE GET ANY BETTER?
It seems, at best, creepy, that we were thought we would find “love” in these two thugs. If I had children, they would be the love of my life. But as it is, the love of my life was my mother. I’m sure it’s next to impossible to explain that to a hormone-filled pubescent. But at least I figured out.