This is how I want to remember Michael Jackson.
I want to call my friend Jenny
on my white Princess phone in my bedroom.
I want to hear her dad’s voice on the other end
hollering for Jenny to pick up the other line.
I want to hear my dad’s voice
telling me that I’ve been on the phone too long.
I want to walk from my house to Jenny’s.
I want to climb the steps to her attic bedroom and jump on her bed
— but not too high, because there’s the danger of hitting your head on the attic roof.
I want to sit in front of the television with Jenny
waiting for the World Premiere of Thriller on MTV.
I want my own damn MTV.
I want to read again and again and again, all the Michael Jackson photos and newspaper clippings
adorning every square inch of Jenny’s walls, ceiling, and floor.
I want to tell my father that The Gloved One
is so worth a $30 concert ticket.
I want to camp outside, at 15 years old, on the sidewalk in front of Gold Medal Sporting Goods in Northeast Philadelphia
in order to get the best seats possible for The Jacksons Victory Tour concert.
I want to be angry with my parents
when they tell me that it doesn’t matter what Jenny’s parents say.
I want to roll my eyes
and scream that they just don’t understand.
I want to tell my Dad
that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I want to realize that this will be one of the last times I’ll argue
(in the way only teenage girls can do) with my father before he dies six months later.
I want to tell my parents they are the best people on the face of the earth for waking up at 3:30 a.m. and driving me over to Gold Medal Sporting Goods to join Jenny in line.
I want to be grateful to Jenny’s dad for
agreeing to take us pretty young things to the concert.
I want to roll my eyes at him, with her, when he embarrasses us on the subway telling everyone that we are in love with Michael Jackson.
I want to sleep over at Jenny’s house
talking until dawn about how the Victory concert would always be the best night of our lives.
I want to remember how it was, how we were
once upon a time, one more time.
About this poem: I wrote a version of this on June 25, 2009, stunned and heartbroken upon hearing the news that Michael Jackson had died. Yes, I know he’s a controversial figure. Yes, I’m aware of the accusations against him. But I also know how very much a part of my teenage years he was and how amazing it was to be at the Jacksons Victory Tour concert in September 1984 at Philadelphia’s JFK stadium. It was my first “real” concert. (Yes, our concert tickets really did cost $30!) Back then, you had to “camp out” overnight for concert tickets. When I heard the news that Michael was dead, it felt surreal — my beloved grandfather died that exact same day — and all I wanted was to be 15 years old again with my childhood friend Jenny and to return to a more carefree time.
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