I hate crying in the morning, which is why I kept pressing the snooze screen this morning. About an hour before my alarm was set to go off I woke up needing to use the bathroom. When I came back I checked my phone and saw the New York Times update: David Bowie had died.
Denial kicked in immediately. No. I’m imagining this. I’m sleepwalking and dreaming at the same time. When my alarm went off I didn’t have to look at the screen to know that it was no dream.
I became a fan of David Bowie, like a lot of other people, when he became a mega-star thanks to MTV and his early-80s persona. Then I discovered boy bands and Bowie too weird for me. It wasn’t until college when I discovered his music for myself. I was heavily infatuated with the senior who worked at my dorm’s front desk and we talked all the time about music. His favorite band was The Smashing Pumpkins and one night we talked about the people who influenced Billy Corgan. When I learned that Bowie was one of those influences I went out the next day and bought his singles collection.
Something interested started to happen when I began listening to Bowie – I began to figure out who I was. This may not sound groundbreaking, but I was pretty lost at the time. I had just moved away from home where I felt constant pressure from my family to conform – to be normal. I was eighteen, desperately wanting new friends, and being told I was trying too hard to fit in. The only thing keeping me from drowning in my undiagnosed clinical depression was music. And David Bowie was the voice telling me that weird was wonderful.
That message meant a lot to me then. His music and his life inspired me to begin figuring out who I was. I had the courage to be different because of him; like the year of college where I only wore the color blue. Maybe I was deluded, but I can say that I know myself better because I had the courage to try.
In the last few years, as the fear of aging has become my new hobgoblin, I chase it away with David Bowie. He was the coolest till the end. I hope I can be, too.