I’m a child of the ’80s. Prince. Michael Jackson. Boy George. Last weekend, the First Weekend of the Covid-19 Quarantine, I announced to my husband that we were having a decades dance party. We’ve been together five years, married two. He knew what he was in for.
We’d bought a stereo from my son’s former roommate a year earlier. Big sound. Two colorful lights settings. It reminded me of the stereo an uncle had given me when I was in sixth grade. About four feet wide, chin high. Cassette. Record player. Radio. I couldn’t believe my luck. Several nights a week I’d throw a red napkin over my lamp and turn on the lights of that stereo. Green. Blue. Yellow. Red. Swirling. Blinking. My walls were covered with Michael Jackson posters. He was light skinned and, to me, as alien as anything I’d experienced in my short eleven year existence on earth in a small town in western Oklahoma. Lionel. Diana. Prince. They all took me far, far away from my existence in my little town where I was being raised in a castle of our own making by a my own king and queen, my grandparents.
“Hard Habit to Break,” by Chicago got a lot of spin on my record player during that time. 1984. I was twelve. My hairbrush, my microphone. My voice, as good as Diana or my other favorites at the time, Sheena Easton and Donna Summer – at least in my own mind. I’d belt those ballads as if I knew anything about love or loss, “I guess I thought you’d be here forever. Another illusion I chose to create. You don’t know what you got. Until it’s gone. And I found out just a little too late.”
I’d stay up late on Friday nights and “sneak” into the living room to watch Friday Night Videos on the only TV we had in the house – a beast of a TV that sat on the ground and would require three strong men to move it. No such thing as a remote. My grandparent’s bedroom was right next to the TV room, but they never told me to go
to bed on this late Friday nights – what as it, 10:30? They were cool that way. Boy George was another favorite, because, have you seen him? The makeup? The hair? Again, unlike anything in my small town. Add in George Michael, and you get a glimpse of my pre-teen paradise. They spoke to me. The world was so, so much bigger than my tiny town of 2000 people and these artists were proof of it.
In an interview, Culture Club frontman Boy George explained: “The song is about the terrible fear of alienation that people have, the fear of standing up for one thing. It’s about trying to suck up to everybody. Basically, if you aren’t true, if you don’t act like you feel, then you get Karma-justice, that’s nature’s way of paying you back.” – Wikipedia
Fast forward through an awkward junior high, amazing friends in a bigger high school in slightly bigger western Oklahoma town of Woodward, a fun four years in college at the University of Oklahoma with a great sorority, marriage, three kids, a bountiful career in marketing, advertising, and writing…and…yes to the loss…my grandmother died of heart disease when I was nineteen and my grandfather years later. My mid-life awakening brought so many things I’d buried to the surface, but I began to live life to the fullest and purse all of my dreams to the point that I find myself…
…in the living room of the fourth house I’ve ever owned dancing in the blinking lights of this stereo to my first favorite song I remember when I was in elementary school, “That’s the Way” by KC and the Sunshine Band, first released in 1974. I was born in ’72 so I can’t remember it from when I was two, but good Lord, I loved that song. “That’s the way Uh-huh, Uh-huh, I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh…” I mean, what’s NOT to love about that song? Uh-huh, uh-huh?!
We danced the other night for hours. ’70s, ’80s, ’90s. Wow. After already feeling cooped up from “soft quarantining,” I needed the release. Finally at midnight, my nineteen-year-old returns from babysitting and I did as any good DJ would do and asked for her requests from her not-so-distant past in high school, and we played those, too.
That’s the thing about life in quarantine. You start missing things you’d taken for granted all along. You reach out for things you loved once upon a time for comfort, even if it is so far back in your memory, you can barely grasp it…but once you do, it’s as if time disappears. And that’s exactly what you need when the world has turned upside down and you can’t have the normal life you are used to…what made me feel safe then? Could it make me feel safe again?
I’m an extrovert and the home disco was exactly what I needed because it wasn’t just my good sport husband and I dancing in the living room. The artists, even the many that have left this earth, were there with us, too. Okay, Boy George. I get it now. I know what alienation is like, and may I say, I don’t like it one bit. I’m an extrovert, so this pandemic is especially hard to swallow. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. See, I already knew about love and loss by now, but not like this. Not. Like. This.
All those artists from my childhood who have passed on to another dimension…I wonder if they had any idea that they would become my coping mechanism someday for a global pandemic? Yet…they live on, and so shall we.
Hang in there, loves.
(You know you wanna watch it! Karma Chameleon. )
Stay tuned for more diary upates on life in the middle of the country during our global pandemic. Much love now and always. Subscribe to get the latest posts in your email