I had a dream about meeting David Bowie the night he died. It was absolutely wonderful. I met him and he was kind and so appreciative of his fans. I have this dream often, where I meet my hero and he treats me like an old friend. I love this dream.
When I woke up, however, my phone was filled with texts and Facebook messages about his death. I thought it was a sick joke. I didn’t believe it. I typed “David Bowie” into Google and the first result that popped up was a BBC article titled “David Bowie dies of cancer aged 69.” I immediately fell to the ground.
It’s real. He’s gone.
My dream quickly transitioned into a nightmare.
To me, David Bowie’s death is like losing a family member. I have never met him, but I knew him. Bowie was the soundtrack to my life. When I walked down the aisle, he was there. He helped me push through my first marathon. He gave me inspiration whenever I sat down to write. I even named my dog after him. Bowie was with me during all my life’s milestones and on plain old boring days. In fact, there was hardly a day that went by where I didn’t hear his voice.
The shocking news landed a bit softly, thanks to his album – released three days before his death – Blackstar. Because of the timing of the two, I feel even closer to the man who has been my constant inspiration. He didn’t have to do an album while he was sick, but he did it anyway. It was his last gift to his fans. A poignant, tragic and beautiful gift I will treasure forever.
Monday was never-ending. Memories of his influence popped up everywhere – ones I had long forgotten about. I remembered buying my first David Bowie CD and playing it so often that it was useless within a year’s time. When I had bass guitar lessons as a teenager, the music shop would often play Hunky Dory and I bonded with the receptionist over our mutual Bowie fandom. I remembered the Diamond Dogs reference my former boss made the day I brought home my dog. The day he died, a friend posted a YouTube link to “Five Years” and I immediately remembered crying over the song’s beautiful sadness during the David Bowie Is… exhibition.
I am just one of countless people who are mourning today. I am one of many who were able to better understand their place in the world, thanks to David Bowie. We are the weird kids who didn’t fit in, who didn’t conform, and quite honestly, who didn’t want to conform. David Bowie reassured us that it’s not just OK to be strange, but that the strange people have more fun.
I was one of those strange kids growing up. I knew what I liked, and my interests were very different from what my peers liked. There were plenty of times I was called weird, that people made fun of what I liked or the way I dressed. But I had David Bowie. Discovering David Bowie was one of the key influences in accepting my strangeness and individuality. His persona and songs embraced the offbeat outcasts in this world. He helped me learn that it was OK to break from the norm and be the person I wanted to be – to be a “kook,” just like him.
“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I know it won’t be boring.” – David Bowie
There’s a reason why this quote – from his 50th birthday at Madison Square Garden – went viral. His fans reveled in creativity and innovation. Bowie was our king, and we wanted to follow him on his adventure through life. As we followed him, he lived up to his promise, watching his life was never boring. Everything he did was exciting and special.
For the past two years, I have been debating about getting a Bowie tattoo. My favorite lyric of his is “turn and face the strange,” from the song, “Changes.” The line comforts me. While it has its own intended meaning, I look at it as a reminder to embrace nonconformity and accept one’s strangeness in life’s quest for growth. It’s a call to dive into the unknown, because that’s where beauty and excitement lies. It’s a demand for all the people who called me weird in the past to face my strange, because it’s not going anywhere.
When it comes to tattoos, however, I am always hesitant. I’ve had at least four ideas that I never got done because I’m too aware of their permanence. It took me 10 years to work up the nerve to get my first one, because I wanted to make sure its meaning was special to me forever.
This time is going to be different, though. I owe it to my hero – my guide through this unpredictable world – to keep his extraordinary impact alive.
Top image via circavintageclothing.com
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