domingo, 11 de outubro de 2009

The «Bad» years

«Remember the Time», when I was almost giving up on me?

I was turning 11 when you suddenly stepped in and stood strong, as you looked right back at me in the mirror. «You Where There», you empowered me and I couldn’t give up any more.

This is nothing like the tributes you made to those you loved, admired and were thankfull to, but I'm putting my heart in it.

Seeing myself in you 20 years ago was allegoric, in both physical and gender terms; besides that, of course it sounds as crazy now as it did then, but my life is blowing up again and I don’t mind being wild now, so - brace yourself - this is the very first time I’m writing to admit and explain how you kept me from loosing myself to disappointment much too soon.

Oh, and please don’t worry: the blowing up part is actually down the hall, in my living-room, where the nicest construction-men are doing the best they can to take out two stubborn layers of solid ground pavement fixed with star-child dreams and family memories, so I can get a smother floor for the last space in the house that’s being redone. My grand-parents lived in this little 50 year old suburban apartment and they always intended me to feel at home where, so I’m ok, really. My homecomings just tend to involve a few blows, that’s all.

As I make this home I find your music lives in my spirit’s temple. This uncanny body of mine is the only place that could have kept you hidden so strong, for so long, and the part of me that seemed more alive and eager then ever, after you were gone. You sang «Give in to me» and now I’m giving in “our” most intimate stories.

I've locked up those stories somewhere inside me a long time ago, but they got free and they're running towards who I am now...

What's happening here? What can you possibly represent to me after so many dormant years? Did you dye to rob me of a possession I never had and never wished for?

My dear friend, I didn’t want you for myself - I wanted to be like you, I wanted to have your guts! And you know what? It seems I’ve got some, due to micro-scaled wonder effects of your global impact on kids’ lives.

I won’t go over a story in which you willingly partook, because it would be pointless to tell you about something you already know, but what I’m doing right now is quite “out there” for me so, if you don’t mind, we’ll take a look at big-picture first to make is easier on me. Who on Earth has your all your guts, anyway? 

You know what I mean… You had an agenda on kids, and please don’t get me wrong, because what’s absurd has to be exposed for what it is: absurd, for Christ sake! This little “agenda” meant you wanted your work to have a positive influence on young people.

Your humanitarian activities were less known to the masses, but I’m sure they made quite a difference for their beneficiaries, no matter how twisted some of them turned out to be. Until you became a sort of prize-prey to be hunted and destroyed, you were such an obvious and inspiring roll-model that sponsor brands and advertisers were delighted to go take rides in your merry-go-round personal messages.

Generation after generation, you had your mind set on getting through to kids and you were certainly the one of the most resourceful human-beings at doing that, not only because your own life positioned you as an expert on the subject of getting people’s attention at an early age, but because you recognized that your creative expression gained exponential power as technological mediation increased, and you got on the train of audiovisual media at the right time, when kids were left to play and watch TV by themselves, while mom and dad were too busy or fed up to care about dreams and values.

Your performances were conceived to take people away to magical places and through the years, each time you simulated a stage invasion by a truly stirred teen-fan, hugged her and kneeled before her, or each time you calmly comforted a hysterical admirer, you showed respect and appreciation for those who allow you to fulfil a sort of duty you felt you had. And you went on with your hard work, paying tribute to children’s ways of playing grown-up people, boys’ fights, girls’ fantasies, spooky tales, enchantment and real life excitement.

You delivered downright moving messages in exquisite combined expression forms, just as you felt suited for pop audiences; you did it with quite an insight, as a matter of fact, sometimes adorably, sometimes poetically, sometimes defiantly and sometimes just as ironically as you could, to make kids feel, think and became whole.

Well, that was a really «Bad» thing to do to youngsters, because family, school and church should have plaid a bigger part, but I got you message in 1989 and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. In my case, most people didn’t understand how a good intelligent young lady would relate to the outcast “bad girl” figure, but I was a poet back so the courageous goodness behind «Bad» was clear to me, even though I can only shed light on it now, in the following terms: you uplifted the ascetics of the street-kid as your great first, your truest, but also your most metaphorical mission, since you turned the «Moonwalker» into a little white girl’s hero in your movie by that same name.

In fact, you wanted to reach out to all children and give them credit for being the future of our planet. It was like you wanted to take a short cut to «Heal the World», because children can start sooner – like you did – grow up to be better people and do a better job than us adults. Indeed, we should stay kids forever.

You saw ahead, my precious friend, and it’s hard to grasp the magnitude of your ephemeral loss. I can only begin to search inside myself, for the relevance you had to me in order to tell you about a small part of your giving legacy. So if you’d like to spend a while of eternity as I playback a few episodes of my «Bad» years, feel welcome to stay and please make yourself comfortable. It might take a while…

It all started in 1988, but 1989 was truly alchemical for me. I didn’t quite come up with the eternal youth formula or else I would have express-mailed it to you, but my golden secret was finally revelled. I’m talking about story-telling and, more than that, story-becoming, as in writing stories and playing them, acting them out, giving them live.

I kept a solitary journal those days, I was writing a auto-biography called «Life» as if I were an adult looking back into my adolescence and I wrote countless poems, short-stories and longer fiction tales, but I didn’t write or talk “to you” like this or out loud either (I’ve stated before this is my first-shot at that, and that’s the truth). When I was alone in my “Thinking Area”, as you could read on the door-tag of the little study next to my room, I didn’t imagine you were there holding my hand or having conversations with me, no way! I didn’t wish you’d physically share that place with me and, in fact, I was very reserved about us ever meeting.

I wanted you to go on with your life, creating wonderful things and inspiring me from a far, because I felt as if we were at the same energetic pace and that was absolutely perfect, since I had no need to verbalize or know anything besides what you were expressing through your music. We were together through the warm soul, the overflowing love, the livening heartbeat, the powerful rhythm, your human beat-box sounds, emotional voice and movement, which I accepted and silently thanked as a generous one-way offer. And what you were offering me back was life and little seeds of resolution, to go after what I made me happy.

I also had a lot to give, but people were judging and accepting less and less, so I just gave what I was asked to give. Then you became «Another part of me» and I believed in giving more, no matter what. A very hard thing to do, but also a very liberating one.

Once I must have carelessly mentioned I “knew” you or that we were “alike” to my mom or to one of my rare close friends, who didn’t understand at all, so I didn’t just not write about it: I also didn’t talk about how close I felt we were to a single person. This was not a secret, it was sacred. It was something to be experienced and not conceptualized.

One may argue that I started to idolize you because I was depressed 20 years ago. It was true, I was eccentric in the sense that I was more comfortable when I imagined myself and wrote as an older me, as anyone else or about anyone either than me (and you, of course). I was introspective, but at the same time I was focused outside of what was familiar to me.

Once my private journal was stolen by a girl in my class and, to my despair, she ran to lock herself in the school bathroom and read it out loud for every girl there to listen. I remember realizing how ridiculous my innocent good-girl diary sounded. I was so ashamed…

I only begun to consciously bring pieces of me to my creative writings in 1991, and I can tell you by then it was pretty “dramatic”. I actually had to stop writing short-novels and I burnt most some of them, because those who were close wanted to read them and it was a complete mess! They didn’t understand fiction could include details that resembled really, without revealing everything or even meaning exactly the same.

So, yes I was in trouble, and I admit I forced myself to get over my identification with you not long after it started, partly because I became more confident in me and faced a self-image problem. The originality I had in my adolescent dress-code, as a way to distinguish myself from other girls my age, had became taken by you: hair, jacket, shirt, pans, belt… Gradually, everything about how I looked had to say I was some kind of “MJ-gang member”, whatever that was. I guess one day I felt you were too visible in me and - as hard as it was - I understood that was a distorted image of who I actually was. That was the first stage of liberation from you.

Well, I turned out to be radically mutational, in the search for a suitable outer shell for my inner self, so I guess my Michael Jackson fan phase was just one among many others. Its meaning was not superficial at all, though. Let’s dig deeper, shall we?

I wanted my big brother to be my pal and he couldn’t for some years. Since I add this timeless and eclectic curiosity for music and you certainly caught my ear, I soon discovered your known family history and Jackson 5 songs, which made relate to you almost like a sibling. Obviously, as you turned into my idol I also developed a platonic crush on you, but since it was platonic, for a while there were no conflicts regarding you. It couldn’t last long, though.

When I was 13, this newcomer, a surfer boy in my class turned into my best friend and then he became first boyfriend, in the most beautiful way. We were already very close but he loved me so much he wanted us to share everything, which made me realize I felt invaded each time someone I loved asked me what was on my mind. There were no words at all… I expected everything to be sensed.

I simply adored my first sweetheart but I couldn’t take that relationship for long, because I had to get in touch with myself to start with, and that meant I would have to do without your absorbing mediation. It became quite clear.

The fact was that you weren’t part of my real life. I feared emotional intimacy and I had all these wonderful love stories waiting just around the corner. I couldn’t miss such an important part of life, could I?

I had to face fear and, that time, you had to stay out of it. So, I begun to seek out and listen to other good music, mostly from the sixties and seventies at first. And to be honest, that music wasn’t hard at all for me to enjoy because I was awarded the poetry and emotion I looked for. I just couldn’t listen to you anymore (I’m sorry). I knew how great your stories were, how deeply you moved me and I couldn’t be around your sound and dancing, so I didn’t buy any more of your records after the «Bad» album. Well, I had bought the «Leave me alone» single because of the good old B side song and that was it: I had left you, Michael, or so I thought.

A couple of years after “leaving you”, my subliminal mind showed me you were still there. As you see, my «Bad» year story comes attached with recollections of other events in my path, as if time became synchronized with your departure. You’re now overlapping, zigzagging throughout many of my memoirs. But I won’t tell you my entire story, just some takes of it, in which your magic charm definitively worked for me. You deserve to know, because it was special.

I was around 15 and spending my summer holidays at my godmother’s house near Lisbon, where I used to sleep with my cousin and one night I talked to her about you in my sleep, can you believe that? When I woke up she was looking at me smiling and she inquired if I had any recollection of our conversation. I was completely unaware of what she was talking about, but she filled me in right away: I had asked her not to come close to me because of the way you liked to sleep. Then, I posed as you sleeping, on your back, with a hand on your tummy and your head slightly to a side, to show her that you (like me, I guess) would appreciate space and quiet to rest your back in an aligned position and to breathe right. This was just how intimate I continued to unconsciously find myself towards you, and how save, trusting and respectful our intimacy actually felt to me.

But what happed that night was and still is preposterous, because I never had an awake thought, knowledge or experience of either your sleeping preferences or your misunderstood “bed-sharing habits”. I was blown away! I was talking in my sleep about you after – what? – 2 years? How could my mind bury the delusion that I knew how you slept?

Now you fell asleep forever and you make me put my «Bad» existence in perspective. Will you let me put your life too? I won’t do that by speculating about how much I saw myself in you, because I’m not that narcissistic, nor masochist, considering all you’ve suffered. You can say I've been identifying and transferring since I started to write this, but you died and that really shook me up, so I'm gathering the pieces and this is what I'm making out of everything.

In your case, I’ll just point out Kant and Hegel’s definitions of genius, which just about summons you up for me.

And don’t be modest, ok? Genius is just one of the words to name the many astonishing ways in which you walked this land, before surely becoming what you were always meant to be: the angel you are now. You know, «E.T.» was the first movie I ever saw in a theatre, so if there’s «Someone in the dark» looking after all these dazed people down here, that someone might as well be you.

Let’s try that genius exercise now. As Kant would put it, you were once «an individual in the free employment of [your] cognitive faculties», even though, for you, it was not only and not always like this, but then again, Kant didn’t know Motown, did he? Anyway, «the product of [your] genius […] is an example, not for imitation […], but to be followed by another genius - one whom it arouses to a sense of his own originality in putting freedom from the constraint of rules so into force in his art that for art itself a new rule is won - which is what shows a talent to be exemplary» (Kant, The Critique of Judgment, 1790 – adap.).

You certainly took examples yourself, from outstanding people, many dance masters (James Brown, Fred Astair among others) and you were as sensitive as to know that the neighbourhood street-dancers can be exemplary too.

In fact, you spent a great deal of your life learning, observing and practicing in order to create the completely new things you did, or something better and bigger than ever before. It was as clear as water in your case: you were genius, in as many art forms as you had the time and resolve to master. Your pears recognized that.

Now, let’s say Hegel sees you up there... I bet he tells everybody right away you’re «one who has the general artistic creation power as well as the necessary energy to enforce that power with maximum efficiency», giving «real form to what is rational itself, as if this rational were part of himself», or as if the absolute ideal mirrored itself the combination of your innate capacities, «theoretical representation» ability and «technical skillfulness» with the «rational ingenuity» and «natural dispositions» of your people (Hegel, Esthetics, 1832 - adap.). This was it, my dear, dear friend: you were blessed with all this and blessed us with all you had in you, sweet genial Michael…

Well, a little before ‘89 your blessing made a direct call to my “nearly lost soul” – to use the melodramatic terms I was into at the time - and suddenly I felt as if I knew you as well as myself. I felt that without having ever met you, or even heard your spoken voice outside a fictional character, like that wonderful “Scarecrow” from «The Wiz», and I only heard the bit attached to singing that escaped the voice-over translation, which I hated so much about Spanish TV. I should say «The Wizard of Oz» has always been my favourite musical picture of its era and that I got to know «The Wiz» by pure chance once, very late at night, as I was beginning to discover you.

I was just zapping after a double movie session ended in a Portuguese TV station, thinking of going to bed and all of a sudden I heard the names “Dorothy” and “Toto” in a Spanish accent. I instantly recognized the story and, to be straightforward, I would have rather retired to my bedroom than see the original picture I knew and loved be murdered by the Spanish if Diana Ross wasn’t playing young “Dorothy” in a different time and social frame. I was really late, but I had to see some of it and listen to a couple of songs at least, so turned the TV volume down until a musical part came up, turned out the lights and set concealed in the dark. I couldn’t risk waking anyone in the house at that hour, so I was very patient, and very quiet.

I didn’t have the slightest idea you were in that movie, Michael - I swear! Your appearance completely stunned me: you were acting on a musical! You were acting besides your clips and you were great! It's so funny now, since you “invented the video-clip as an art-form" and performed in those clips... Back then I just felt you were getting close to me, really fast, regarding what I liked.

Never the less, I had to face it: I had one of your records at that point, it was making me go through a meaningful experience but I was nothing but a juvenile living in the end of the World and I knew nothing about you. I had never known, for a fact, anything you had ever said besides your lyrics, because I hadn’t yet found a real interview you’d given. Oh, but my quest for your “real word” begun the day I got that first Michael Jackson LP.

My “number one” was nothing new at the time, but it is surely mythic and, as if your new songs at that time weren't enough, it still had a couple of tracks at the hit-lists: it was the «Thriller»! My godfather gave it to me for Easter in ‘88, God bless him. He usually visited me at that time of the year and gave me either a book or a record, which I always reattributed with an animal shaped Easter cake I used to bake myself.

That year, I had told him the sort of music I liked and although I didn't have any of your records yet, I hopped he would buy me your latest if he decided to "pick you", but that was not the case and I only bought my «Bad» album later that year, with a record gift check I got for Christmas.

The fact is that my «Thriller» record's story is the one I'd really like to tell you, because it quite... Dreamy.

I putted the record on and, when it got to the main track of the album, it instantly sounded familiar. It It stroked me like a sort of shamanistic reminiscence: it was you, the dancing man from the “scary movie”, or so I thought some years before, when I first saw half of the «Thriller» music-video through my fingers (I had nightmares at the age 6 and I have to say terror was out of my league). Since then, I had always been a bit scared to watch the whole video, although it seemed to haunt me in every Portuguese and Spanish music TV program, week after week, month after month, and year after year.

Let me tell you how it was, the first time I candidly tried to watch that magnum opus you made with John Landis (and please don’t laugh, because I was only 6, ok?).

I went to take a bath while the music-hit countdown was on TV, because I wasn’t really enjoying it at first, but I asked my mother to call me when the program got to number one. She did, but when I got in front of the TV I supposed she had called me a tad late, because it seemed like the afternoon movie had just started. Anyway, I wasn’t angry at her because the “movie” had a nice black sixties’ America romance to it, which (ups!) suddenly turned into horror, making me close my eyes. I was glad to find out it was just a “movie within a movie” after all, and I also liked the eighties groove. But then the zombies started to come out and that was it: my hands covered my eyes in panic and, as much as I wanted to see the dancing, I could never watch the video ‘til “The End”. For a few years, I was unable to look into your living-dead eyes to the sound of Vincent Price’s laughter. I was up and away from you long before that, oh yeah!

So, the video had frightened me to death as a child but when I got the record, I was the morbid one and the music lifted me up! I felt that years later you were coming for me and that time you weren’t about to let me slip away... But you weren’t coming viciously at all.

You came as if to say “you’re alive, Claudia, rise up! You can pack up your fears and stop being afraid of living. Let’s go for it, girl!” And I was definitely “thrilled”! You took me out of the grave-mind and made me flourish inside.

That Christmas I bought my «Bad» piece and, for many reasons, I couldn’t get rid of your dammed “glitter” and “attitude”. I was the fast developing type of girl, so at 11 I was tall and, let us say, mature girl for my age, but also very self-conscious about my body. Older man inspired me to have spiritual and intellectual endearments, which protected me from actual dates until I was prepared, but young boys are meant to fall in love and some of them fell for me.

The funny thing is that you must have appeared to them as my “gate-keeper”, because boys started to give me things with your picture (magazine pages, stickers, posters, you name it). They did it just to talk or spend a little time with me and, of course, as the Michael Jackson fan I was becoming, I loved those gifts, even though it didn’t always feel right.

Some boys were honest about why they gave me what I liked, and offered those things directly to me, but others were coy or somehow felt intimidated by me, and just left “your stuff” in my backpack while I was away, with unsigned love cards. Romantic love was somehow getting closer, in a disturbing way.

There was this one case of a younger boy, who was also your fan (the only true one besides me in my school) that left me courtship notes signing your name. He was very skinny, small and agile, break-danced quite well and even surprised me once at school, with a very nice and very embracing «The way you make me feel» dancing serenade. But why on earth was he writing “Michael Jackson” in his own calligraphic style at the end of self-centred meeting arrangements he wrote and ripped of his Math notebook?

Well… It’s true I added your signature’s sparkle to mine because of «Thriller» and I even got through with it in my first ID card, but I didn’t think of it as coping or wanting to pass as you. I was really into symbols, so I saw it as a sign of acknowledgment and portrayal of your uplifting entrance in my life. I adapted it into an underline finale you could see below my full name, designed in a right inclined handwriting. I can tell you I was perfectly able to reproduce your signature, but that was not how I wanted my own to look like.

That little boy I was telling you about just wrote plain lettered “Michael Jackson” and I couldn’t fall for him because be danced, was your fan and called himself by your name on paper. It was ludicrous and absurd but, then again, I knew how it was to be ridiculed and it wasn’t like me to hurt anyone’s feelings so, as a friendly gesture, I actually invited him to came and dance at my 12th birthday party, which was all about you.

I got to learn from heart all the song lyrics from your late seventies’ album, which I repeatedly listened, sang and danced to in my study, that unique birthday. And I was delighted by evidence that in «Off the wall» was mirroring that childish belief I had back in ’79, in giving everything you have inside, because you’d written and produced such blazing songs.

A similar thing happened with your “word beyond art”. The first time I had heard you speak on TV, as you received as an award I almost froze with recognition. Your voice – just like mine back then – was not strong and laud as one could expect from an experienced performer such as you, but very low and shy. You were not at that awards’ ceremony, but either on video-conference in another part of the world or most probably taped. I sat «Speechless» to hear your voice, because you were many decibels below the average of the show, but people there were noisily frantic about you and I remember wishing they would respect that little precious moment. It’s one of those sublime teen-fan memories.

Either then that, for a long time, you didn’t give interviews on the TV stations I had access to and I couldn’t find them elsewhere, because everything printed about you were top chats, articles about tours, concerts, what you wore and did during performances, fans going on stage and fainting, new videos and costly they were, you giving checks for charity, Bubbles, the hyperbaric chamber… You were on every single German «Bravo» and «Super Pop» magazine I started buying because of you, but there were never credible quotes, much less interviews.

My parents had met and married in Germany so they both spoke German fluently and taught me some too, since I was interested in the magazines I mentioned, for actually being the ones that always brought your name on them, and pictures or posters of you. The man at my high-school town’s biggest newspapers and magazines’ shop saved those magazines for me every month, because I was such a loyal client, and I asked my mother to help me translate everything printed about you. Eventually my mom got tired of that, and accused me of loving you more than her. This was one of the first big family dramas to burst everyone up in tears in my house, you know? Things usually were dealt in patient, tender, level-headed terms.

I was born in the city and moved to this little village close to Spain in the Portuguese northern country-side in ‘83, with my parents and older brother. I felt the musical appeal of singing and dancing as a little girl and a strong story-telling impulse ever since I can remember, but to be frank, moving to the north was the beginning of the end for the outgoing me. This, of course, until magic happened in ’89.

There’s something I must ask you: please don’t get me wrong about how I feel about my family’s decision to move up north. My mom, dad and brother are the most understanding, correct and kind people in the world and the fact that some of their choices affect my life - as mine affect theirs - just means we’re family and I’m grateful for sharing a background with such wonderful human-beings. I love them dearly, and specially thank my brother for giving me the nieces of my dreams! I missed the chance to spend priceless days with them in the north, where the all family came together to vote and pick our ancestors vineyards for green-wine grapes, that my dad still converts into the freshest and most delicate wine, in his own father’s traditional wine-cellar. I’ll be going up there just in time to meet my lovely nieces with gift books as they wake-up in the morning and I pray the Lord they’ll play and stay with me for as long as their parents possibly can, before I have to kiss them goodbye as they return to the city where they live, not all that far from me down here, thankfully.

You showed me that the place where you grow up and your family’s influence may or not be who you are, because it’s always up to you to actually become it. Ask Hegel if when he arranged his genius concept he also had these type of things in mind (I mean home-town and family inclinations) and if he would consider them included in the «rational ingenuity» and «natural dispositions» of the genius’ people. Thanks God “your people” have music in their blood and thank God you had a whole lot more going specifically for you (which, by the way, meant you also had a whole lot going for others, since you shared with the entire world your artistic creations and with so many who needed the rewards you got from your work).

I don’t mean to repeat myself, but your “Major Love” messages keep coming to me. You only have yourself to blame!

Now, if you will, go back with me again to ’89. The first interview I discovered was actually in a magazine which didn’t need to be read by my mother: a Spanish version of «Time Magazine» or something like that, which had a 6 page interview you’d given to another magazine, and that was probably printed under some kind of international press corporation agreement.

It had a lot that made sense to me (I only hope my memory does not betray me, about the contents of this particular interview). I read about how your carrier made you grow up away from playing and schools, having tutors and private teachers instead; that you didn’t have many friends, but that there were some dear ones, like your brothers and Diana Ross, who you lived with as a child and had an platonic crush on; your girlfriends, like Tatum and Brook, about who you didn’t feel it was polite to talk about, because dating should be respected as a private matter; how much you loved children and animals and felt close to them, for their innocence and integrity; that you fasted and didn’t do drugs back then to keep your body and spirit clean; about your first plastic surgery to your nose, years before, after an accident or so I believe, and about your skin diseases.

I had searched for your story in your own words and, after all, it was like there was nothing in them that somehow revealed you more than your music and my mirror.

I’m probably not making sense to you with this mirror thing, but the true reason for this “figure of speech” as I try to make sense out of my life and your death is this: in one of my numerous family visits to Lisbon I bought a double mix-album, with Jackson 5 hits and your own as a child and as a teenager; the cover had a counter-light image of you in a «Bad» outfit and I liked it so much that I drew its profile on my bedroom’s closet mirror with an appropriate pen, so it wouldn’t fade. That way, you were in fact my «Man in the Mirror» and whenever I looked at my reflection, I saw you and that changed me back into the person I didn’t want to loose track of being.

The deeper meaning of this mirror drawing came to me in June with your sudden departure, in another difficult stage for me, as I look “over my shoulder”. I understand I’m part of a happy giving soul that can not be severed from. In order to be happy in this wonderful crazy world, I simply have to give, even though some misunderstand, critique, envy and take advantage. Growing up, I defined personal references of happiness and giving - the very first ones for me at 3 were Miss Piggy and the Italian Raphaela Carrá, who I mimicked in front of the TV set - and I felt irresistibly drawn to people in need – so from a very early age, I was positively attracted to the sick, deprived, marginalized and somehow different people. This made me state at the age of 3 that I wanted to be a dancer and a nurse when I grew up. My mother is nurse, by the way, so that part was quite welcome back home.

My grand-parents, aunts and uncles in Lisbon believed I’d also be a performer and, as a matter of fact, the year my close-family moved to the countryside, my grand-father was going to sign me in a infant talent competition and my relatives thought I had a pretty good chance of winning. I wouldn’t have, though: a friend I met many years later told me participated in that talent show and that it was a devastating experience for her, because that year the winner contestant was a professionally trained child singer who’s exactly my age. Never before had that contest seen such a technically accurate and talented little girl. She has been for many year now one of the best Portuguese musical theatre artists.

Yes, it’s important for a performer to start soon if that’s what his or her heart desires, but growing itself is challenging enough and raising a child demands selfless-grounded love. Well, back in Lisbon, I wouldn’t say my parents didn’t want me to sing or dance, because they proudly applauded me. I’d rather say they couldn’t quite handle me becoming a child entertainer outside the family’s protective boundaries and tried to make my energy flow elsewhere, so when I asked them to get me into dance classes, they signed me in gymnastics. Oh, I cried so much…

Though my dancing development was limited, because without those classes I clearly didn’t have what it took to actually imitate Raphaela like you imitated James Brown, my dramatic imagination could not be restrained. The tales I made up to amuse people at family parties were new each time and the ones I told my stunned kindergarten mates where inspired by my drawings and handcraft exercises, as if they came to life by themselves.

When I was already living in the north and I learned how to read and write, I started to devour books and became a compulsive writer. My writing was not exactly a school thing, but a way to get beyond the horizons of the repeatedly burned mountains I saw everywhere I looked. In a way, I had to write because I couldn’t go around telling stories, since I discovered not everyone liked to be taken out of their own narrow reality. Moving to the countryside proved this to me in wicked way and I wasn’t prepared to handle it.

Primary-school in that village was quite a life lesson. I moved with my family in the summer when I was 6 and when school started I was exited about meeting new people. The thing was I didn’t know the “countryside’s game rules” and has a warm and polite city girl, I was aiming a little too high: I wanted to please and make friends with everyone. So, I introduced myself to a girl who lived close to my house and told her I’d like to be her best friend; I started to take at least two dolls and a double snack to school so that another girl could play and eat with me in the playground; I offered the teacher flowers I picked up on the way to school and I draw each letter as soon as she showed it to the class on a little picture alphabet card.

My strategy worked perfectly with the teacher, who was sensitive enough to let each of the 16 girls in the class progress at their own speed, and also with the some of the underprivileged girls. Not with the others, though. Years later, that friend of mine who was my neighbour confessed that my sharing disposition was interpreted as showing-off, just like my willingness to help slow-learners in the class. I was a complete alien, doing things to make those girls happy and bringing out the worst in them.

As years when by, I turned shy and country kids realised I was useful, I guess. The violence and cruelty in those northern girls never ceased to surprise me, but I could lie low most of the times, as a rule boys didn’t arm me and actually befriended me, as well as the poorest kids I naturally treated as equals. Well those kids proved me wrong many times: they were better, much better then the rude spoiled brats I made group assignments and homework for, just because I was nice and never said “no”.

I guess in adolescence that country rudeness contaminated my brother’s attitude towards me and that, I must say, was the truly painful thing because he was my hero. I couldn’t help confronting him in tears when he was wicked to me, because I needed to know why he would want to hurt me for no apparent reason. He would just say: “Don’t you cry on me! Stop acting! Don’t be such a big actress!” And that, my friend, was a thousand times more painful than if he just slapped my face or kicked my knee.

We talked about this as we grew up and of course it’s one of those long forgiven and laugh about things, because we were kids and we love each other very much. The fact is, even though he wanted to hurt back then, he was quite right. I was always meant to embody, express and give more than what my own life allows me to, so I know must at least perform and tell stories. A couple of years ago someone putted it to me in a plain Freudian way and I might as well admit it’s a basic need for me. Of course I can deny it and go mad, but I’m pretty much done with that.

The stories I’m telling you are my closure. I have to say I haven’t been your fan since 1990, which was quite a few years ago, but I must also say your death slapped harder than my brother’s words ever could. You deserve recognition and I need to leave my denial madness behind, so yes, I’m writing to your “Matrix soul” now, giving it all up. None will ever be able to twist the stories I treasure because of you.

You played your part from a far in ’89, when things started to fall in to place for me. Even though my puzzle remained tricky, you helped me realize I was “not alone” after all, as you sang years later. No matter how many closed-minded and closed-hearted people I found, my creative overproduction eventually had to come out in the open for those who appreciated it.

I invested time and energy in reading and writing about everything that thrilled me, absolutely everything. I did it for escapism and fulfilment reasons, and I guess practice and passion made my textual expression not only correct and good very soon, but quite powerful, which made my imagination run wilder and wilder. The sad part for me these days is that this undisciplined me a bit while my personality was forming. Well, «Too Bad»!

I allowed myself to become stories and even though I was brought up with the best family values and was given no weapons to actually censure, attack and destroy evil, in my stories I could be a eagle-eyed morphing cloud in the sky, Marcus Aurelius, a mad old painter or his model, who accepted to be murdered by him for love, in order to become his master-piece.

At 16 I told a lonely photographer about this mad painter story and maybe because he was coming out of a bad break up, he begged me to let him read it. I would have found it difficult to show it to a person I knew but that stranger in emotional distress had my total confidence. He was actually a Design teacher and was spending his holidays at my village’s camping park, where I had my first exploitative teenage summer-job.

I trusted that teacher with a story I’d written years before I met him. He read it and, that same day, he asked me for some more of my stories and also for drawings, since the previous school year I had been an Art student.

Oh, Michael, what can I say, it was a beautiful thing: he started to pick me up at home before work to take all those things and discuss them with me, to the sound of Janis Joplin; then he asked my parents to take me out after work (which was an admirable thing to do, because I hadn’t been out on a night date since a dreadful car accident that you can read about later) and, it’s plain to see, he became my summer-love.

That summer-love was the one who gave me «The Perfume» a few years later I wrote the mad painter story in ’89 and there’s no comparison in scale and density, but I remember to have sensed, as in sensually perceived the core-story as I wrote it. You know, I only recently watched videos that capture you explaining you danced as if you became the music and it’s really as simple as that. It is real and it was very import for me to feel understood 20 years ago. Once more, thank you, my friend.

In the school year of ‘88/’89 I was meant to feel more than understood by you. I gained an additional excuse to write during class-breaks instead of playing or doing whatever kids my age did, because I took a nasty fall on my coccyx during gym classes and was rushed to the hospital, pale and paralyzed. Since something quite similar had happened to me once before at home, after slipping in the tub, my mother had the doctors eschew a medical document that excused me from Sports after that incident at the school gym.

This came as a blessing to me, since I felt awkwardly observed at the gym showers, as the tall adolescent freak I was among little girls who made fun of me and I evidently extrapolated the incident in favour of what I wanted to do: writing whenever and wherever I felt like it (poor “crippled” me, what else could I do?) and dancing in my study back home, were I was authorized to place my fabulous family record-player and nobody could get in without knocking. It was actually a store-room with a balcony I simply adored, and therefore rearranged, furnished, decorated and off-limited with a stencilled door-tag saying:

Do not disturb - Please knock”

Curiously it was just like this, written in English... I honestly can’t recall if this was “the thing”, but I probably wanted to make sure you’d be able to read and understand that door-tag, if you’d ever place yourself before it. “What if?” I couldn’t take that chance...

I was perfectly comfortable when I wrote about I guess I would have kept my writing and my dancing to myself and my mirror if that school year I wouldn’t have had the most extraordinary Portuguese Language teacher. I was creeping around on my own, dressed in black and Doc Martin’s, with wet-styled curls over my face and through my assigned school writings, that teacher realized I had something to give and decided to “dig for gold”. She made me believe what I kept hidden interested people and that it brought her joy. Well, it did - I refuse to be cynical - but years after she got inside my “mine”, my mind and my heart, it was like I had fallen asleep on the job of pursuing my golden dream and was violently awaked to discover that, although I asked for nothing, this unparalleled woman did receive a cry for help and remained faithful to a secret promise to care for me all her life.

I must go slowly now and eschew discretion advise, because this is not a genius dance move and you don’t have to know all the ins and outs of this teacher’s story, since you can probably sense it already in the place you now inhabit. I should reduce the cruelty among I share with you so that I don’t disturb your earned rest if you actually go on reading this, but I know you’re in peaceful spot where you can coolly take some heat. Yours truly, on the other hand, can’t close her eyes anymore: think of it as if the film was running and as if I’d given pretty serious camera directions.

This teacher who became one of the best friends I ever had was killed when she was about the age I am now, in a brutal car collision, by an under-slept and under-paid long-distance truck driver, who misted a curve and smashed right into her car.

You see Michael, I might as well have killed her myself and it hurts excruciatingly! According to my parents – and of course I have no memory of this – I used to cry all night long from 1st to 3rd year of life, and when they asked me if I was felt sore, scared, feverish, cold or hungry, I only told them “It’s nothing, just let me cry”. My angel, I can’t help wondering: did I sense this fatality? Was that why I didn’t sleep and didn’t tell open up with my mother? Was that what made me cry until morning, robbing my parents of the rest they needed, punishing them in advance for whatever well-intentioned “flaws” they would perpetrate towards me in the years to come?

I couldn’t sleep and then I couldn’t stay awaked. This spiteful paradox was the same one that killed you, wasn’t it? It’s pretty clear I must stop this now, once and for all. I’m not hunted, I’m not fearful and I’m not sleeping unless I’m the right kind of tired. Otherwise, I’ll be vigilant of what’s important, so help me God! I slept long enough already and there will be plenty of time for that once I breathe my last breath.

My teacher died in the year I got in college, a few days before my birthday and although it was the first time I didn’t get a birthday card from her (that’s how thoughtful she was) I would have never guessed what happened, since she had mailed me the nicest 4 page letter when she learned I was accepted in Coimbra, saying how excited and happy she was, because I was attending the same university she did, and I was moving to “her city”. She wrote she was in love and busy with her wedding arrangements, but that she’d like to show me some of her own favourite city sights when she got the chance and I had time off my classes and exams. I never thanks or replied that wonderful manuscript and she was out of my life, gone too soon... I only knew she passed away after her memorial service.

I was in exams when it all took place and like in chess game, we had assumed different positions: I was in her city and my teacher-friend, who had been placed in other schools through out the years, was giving classes again at my old high-school and lived around there. My mother kept her accident, her hopeless coma and her funeral from me, so that I stayed focused and would be able to pass all my exams, but she couldn’t avoid my homecoming during that off-class study period. I was meant to run right into the shocking news-flash downtown, because it wasn’t all that new anymore... Just plain café table talk. I was so sloppily “informed” of her death that I became black inside - something she told me herself in ’89, just to crack a smile out of my «PYT» face.

After knowing she was gone I simply could not study. Tears kept coming out of my eyes whenever I revised college subjects. It even stopped when I got up, forced myself to eat something and got back in from of my books and summaries, but each time I tried to read, letters fainted as tears begun to fall again, staining the printed texts. I was physiologically and spiritually refusing the life I was living at that point. I didn’t matter what I rationally and responsibly intended to do, because the truth was I wanted to be an actress and condescended in getting a “real degree” first. So there I was: by my own doing, I had become a diligent and mediocre college Law student, whose eyes turned into water-falls over my inspiring 6th grade teacher who died trusting I’d succeed in whatever carrier I set my mind to, because I didn’t have the guts to tell her I had postponed my dreams and was murdering my creativity as I busted my brains out “first”, reading and writing in strict terms.

I was desperate for the mystical goodbye we were entitled to and I had this oral exam, so I went to college in the morning to find out where my name was in that thing’s timetable, and looked up my teacher’s letter. She had written her mother’s address, just in case I ever needed anything and I needed to go there as much as I needed to breathe. She also wrote her mom was a dear woman, but a bit old-fashioned and cheerless because she became a widow too soon and her husband was the joy of her life. My teacher explained her mother always kept her window shades down and advised me to take her flowers, promising she’d be immediately fond of me just for that. She prepared me for the all picture, just not for the reason of my visit.

My oral exam was to take place in the afternoon – which was great because I couldn’t have waited – and I just ran off to buy flowers with the little money I had on me. I visited my teacher’s mother to offer my condolences and ask about her daughter’s exact resting place in the city’s graveyard, so that I could go there after the exam, to pay my respects. I did, took a letter I’d written, sat and cried myself into the twilight. The silent, simple, perceptive graveyard keeper couldn’t quite bring himself to ask me to leave, so he stayed and kept away for a couple more hours after his schedule, until I the sunset made it obvious for me that such a place wasn’t meant to be opened at night, because there were no lights besides the fragile candle flames that the wind blows extinguished ahead of me.

Back at that my teacher’s mother house, I looked at some pictures of that ever smiling friend and the murky lady beside me said she felt she had known me all along and made a “casual” revelation, which I believe only mothers can see as casual. Her daughter worried about me since a certain phone conversation with my own dear mother and often talked about me to her mom. My mother made fear for my life, and maybe told her I was suicidal.

It’s so outrageous… Please, let’s take it one-step-at-a-time. I’ll let you in on the reason for this telephone call later, but its outcome was so magical and the death of this very special teacher left such a painful scar that I really must “ease on down the road”. I’m sure you understand. Come along now, we’re almost getting out of the mist.

After she was gone I could never succeed at anything unless I putted my heart into it. No matter how dedicated I am and how hard I work, if I don’t take pleasure in it as truthfully as a child, I’m doomed to fail. I’ve dedicated a book I’ve written on public relations and social accountability to this «Moonwalker» spirited teacher, rest her soul. And you know what? My only gain from this 2005 technical edition was what I learned writing it, the inspiring experiences I shared, the wonderful people I met and the short tribute message to my teacher I got the editor to print at the beginning of that black book.

Back in ’89 she arranged so that I would go 500 years back to sense how it was to be an African slave, in order to write and give voice to his uneasy mind in a supposedly historical monologue which won 6 graders a school prize that was disputed among teams from the 5th to the 12th grade. When I say I went back in time I mean an unusual group of teachers added awfully graphic descriptions to what I’d read and seen in the fiction and documentary movies; then, they offered me a room, milk and cookies, and just left me alone to write in absolute silence, waiting anxiously outside as if I was giving birth to their baby. It was a strong experience for all of us, I believe, and very good for me to be given that must credit. Or – as you’d put it – it was very «Bad».

These emotional historical encounters were one of my things, really, but they usually took place inside my mind. Not long before I met my dear teacher, when I was around 10 (I guess) I remember reading «Uncle Thomas’ Cabin» and becoming so interested in its context that I bought an American History book and wrote a historical short-novel, documented in terms of battle dates, places, names which were used at the time, ways people would address each other, with different plots and social levels, romance, betrayal, death and redemption. I clearly saw it as a movie in my mind. A couple of years later, when I heard on the news that Rodney King had been beaten to death in America just for being black, I had my script tipped, dedicated it to him and gave it to him and gave it to my History teacher after the school year was over and the grades were out.

I couldn’t have done such a selfless thing with that story before my teacher-friend and you, Michael, so deeply touched my soul in that «Bad» year. My sadly gone teacher saw me through school compositions, made me give her more, then poems, then short-stories, then happier stories and then, finally, she “came clean”.

This was how she started to give it to me: she felt I had low self-esteem and was seeing everything “black” because I only wore black, which made laugh - I laughed because of you (I wore black because of you, she knew that, she wanted to see me smile and it worked because you made me happy, although it might not look that way).

She frequently caught me sitting alone in corners at school and told me girls my age were stupid to mock me, because I was quiet and shy, but I was also a very gifted young lady. Then she confessed she had carried out a plan she designed herself to prove something to me about my writing.

It was a bombshell! The texts she asked for were printed in different school paper numbers and students liked them. A tale and poem were published to enter school literary contests and won 1st prizes. She meant to have me recognized as a good writer, in different styles, by different audiences and told I shouldn’t think of this recognition as her opinion, but as a fact. I can tell you I was really mad… How could she have published my writings without consulting me first?

When you’re too blind to see simple things they have a way of blowing up in your face. My teacher’s father died shortly after that and it was pesky to be upset about what she had done. She didn’t give classes for a while but came back to chaperon my 6 grade class in a visit to other school, as she had promised. Everybody was excited because it meant a whole day without school courses, but the problem was the visit was scheduled for the day in which I was becoming 12 years old. I had a birthday party planed for the following weekend, nevertheless the idea of having that extra off-school day entirely to myself seamed blissful to me. I just couldn’t face my teacher to tell her I didn’t want to go on her trip, so I asked my mother to sign the parental authorization note, marking it as “not allowed to go”.

Well, I didn’t get away with it. The night before the trip my teacher phoned my mother and after the two of them talked and cried for a while, she asked to talk to me. She said “Claudia, if you don’t go I don’t want to go either because, as you know, I can no longer be with someone very dear to me... But I can still be with people I like down here so, if you’d make me so happy as to spend your birthday with me, I promise none will make you sad on our trip.” What could I say to this? She even baked me a birthday cake, even though we covered up this little detail (nobody knew she made that cake).

«This is It». The school trip I didn’t want be in was reason the for the phone-call that made her worry about me all her life and this is the daydream-story of that school trip: my teacher promoted a pen-friend interchange programme between my class and a 6 grade class from the school we were visiting. Each one of my classmates was supposed to make a presentation there, to entertain or to teach something to our pen-friends at a lovely reception they prepared for us. The boys and girls from the host school sang songs; recited poems; performed traditional dances and my class had nothing to show them. They had prepared absolutely nothing and I had nothing either, because I simply was not going…

I looked at my dear teacher and her mooring clothes had begun to cloud her shiny black eyes, so I decided to free the «Bad» Claudia. I asked my pen-friend if they had your song on tape for the reception and of course they did. Girls from my class begun to tease the “stiff who was going to dance” but were promptly ordered to behave and shut up by my accomplice teacher, while the kids from the host school gathered ‘round me clapping their hand as the music started.

I was about to dance to your music in public for the first time ever and I didn’t care if I was going to make a fool of myself or not, because I had a purpose: I aimed for a fuss! I wanted kids to have fun so that none would ever point the finger at my teacher because of her lazy, rude and ungrateful pupils.

And I had fun, pure fun – you did the rest, dear friend! Young people from that school thought I was the most popular girl from in my own school... It’s ironic, isn’t it?

I loved to sing, dance and tell stories at parties as a child in the city but oddly enough my village’s parties were less enthusiastic. In addition, I didn’t have access to a lot of music or fan materials and neither did people my age there. I recall discovering the Jacksons’ «Victory» LP at my godmother’s in Lisbon but I only got that album afterwards, so I’m pretty sure I only had my mixed “oldies”, «Thriller» and «Bad» in my actual 12th birthday party.

My «Bad» LP has your record’s front cover picture printed in the vinyl itself and three different images of you posing feet to feet imprinted on the back of the record. It’s a beautiful «Epic», but I wanted more for my birthday so I told my guests I didn’t want gifts, just your music in my party. I asked my friends to find out if people in their families owned any of your records besides the ones I had and there was, in fact, a «Off the Wall» album, which I promised to handle myself, extra carefully, so that the girl who told me about it could actually get permission to borrow it for my party.

This way, «Off the Wall» paid a visit to play along with «Thriller», «Bad» and “little Michael” in my birthday and it I was a hell a party, I can tell you that! After that school trip, my dance moves had conquered a little respect and even though the dancing kid I invited didn’t feel like teaching me any more, I danced ‘till I dropped.

I was nothing special at it, really. I only learned how to moonwalk the following school year, thanks to the sweetest, most sensible and most gorgeous Indo-Angolan “princess” - my heart sis’, my best friend ever! We lost track of one another because she was actually from Lisbon and just lived with her mother in the north for that one year, but we sealed a friendship for life because we understood, trusted and truly cared for each other, so we could never resist looking for addresses and phone numbers through our families. Thank God, when that didn’t work I was in Lisbon – around the time of my second Law college attempt (go ahead and mock me) – and she saw me on the street, so won’t anyone dare say miracles don’t happen! You just have to hope, pray before you go to sleep, dream and wish with all your heart... And then open up your eyes!

When I heard her matchless fairy voice and looked around there she was, running to me, laughing and crying at the same time. We were so happy, that hug was pure heaven! It wasn’t weird because we were older and looked different, it was as if we hadn’t parted and we always felt close the scarce times we were able to meet and talk in our lives, after we became “sisters”. I was honoured to be the only Portuguese friend she invited to her wedding in Spain in the nineties, but I haven’t met her children and I miss her so much...

She absolutely loved amusement parks, so those were the places where she definitively had to take me in the cities where I visited her through the years. I should take her, her husband and her kids along with my brother, my sister-in-law and my dear nieces to the first big amusement park I went to, back in the summer of ’89.

That summer I went to Germany with my parents and brother to visit some family friends near Cologne and one day we all went to «Phantasialand», in Bruhl. I bought and wore there, that single time for many years, a black «Bad - Michael Jackson» T-shirt. I didn’t like to “wear” your face (I preferred to approach your style), but an amusement park seamed like the right place to wear that T-shirt and little did I know how right I was... In the Western theme area of the park, to my surprise, the Saloon featured: «Michael Jackson». You were there in a holographic show, you «Speed Demon»-you, and it made my day!

You came up with «Captain EO» for Disney World, but you were spreading other little seeds in «Neverlands» around the world, weren’t you?

Well, for me, it was crop time in no time… Sorry, this is poor tasted. Personal writing has this hazard to it and I’m being too playful with words. I don’t care if malicious people misunderstand – that’s just fine by me – but I don’t mean to hurt or disregard you at all. Tease and irony are not always as fun to read as they are to come up with, but nothing I wrote was intended as a gag about earthily injustice inflected upon you dead or alive, so I apologize if my somehow misbehaved English made me step over the line. Please, you know that when you write and sometimes even when you speak your mind not all your feelings are clear to everyone, and this can actually be a good thing for numbed spirits, because it makes them wonder, question, jump barriers and grow.

Well, theatre and cinema are much better for story-telling, no doubt about that, but in my case the budget wouldn’t have gotten me pass the first paragraph. Your music-clips, your songs and your video-recorded dance moves may help out, but they don’t necessarily do the all trick, because those are the stories you told. I’m just calling out for them to illustrate my own. To actually perform and direct my stories I would need an all new production and it would be great to have some of the people who worked with you by my side, but that’s not happening right now, so go ease on me, will you?

What I meant to say with the “seeds” and the “crop” was that I was radiant and extrovert at «Phantasialand» in my T-shirt, after seeing your impressionists and your holograms, looking at them like a character myself and reaching out to pass my hand through the dazzle. You can see how outgoing I was in that day’s photos, and my parents loved that I was so happy and fun to be with again.

My parents and brother went back to Portugal and I stayed in Germany for 2 more months, going to home-parties and classes with my German friends, visiting museums all by myself and, of course, looking for your records in «Virgin» mega-stores, old record stores and second-hand record stores. I don’t recall exactly which of my records I bough there, but I couldn’t find the «Off the Wall» I liked so much. I know I got the «Liberian Girl» single, because of the B side «Girlfriend» single.

Besides your own songs, my favourite ones from your late seventies album were that «Girlfriend» theme and «I can’t help it», in this case, because of the mirror metaphor in the lyrics. You should bear in mind that on my 12th birthday, when «Off the Wall» was borrowed to me, I you were already “profiled” in my inner closet’s mirror, dear friend. Yes, I was a sucker for nice romantic things, and that was a pretty sweet music-gift I got from you. God, I have to buy an «Of the Wall» CD soon!

I think my “new” Jacksons’ «23000 Jackson Street» album also came from Germany, but I can’t say for sure. If it was released after September of ’89, then I’m mistaken (help me out, will you?). My records are not here right now, because of the house renewal and I can only remind myself the release and acquisition dates of the most significant ones for me, sorry…

Actually, I remember a used a song from that Jacksons’ record for a 10th grade Psychology class presentation, to demonstrate the human dimensions (hereditary, biological, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual). I made a copy of the music to take to class and play it on a tape-recorder, because I intended to use a song’s initial crescendo as a sound-track for each dimension’s explanation. I’m not exactly sure, but it was something like this: the music started with kids’ voices and then it gained an organic percussion sound, then a solo voice, then chorus, then various musical instruments and finally some bells rang. During my presentation, I played and stopped the music at the point were a new element was added, explaining each of the human dimensions as the music became richer and more complex.

Well, the Psychology teacher, who by the way didn’t feel at ease around me and didn’t exactly include “spirituality” on the program, said she didn’t understand and so did the girls in my class, which didn’t surprise me. Fortunately, it was a shared class with Health students, who liked my approach, supported my right to go beyond the books in matters of belief and were critical enough to agree or disagree with the spiritual dimension, even though they could perceive it as being represented in the music I chose. In the end, they asked to listen to the all music and I had to make some copies. My grade wasn’t all that good, but the “The Jacksons” caught the ear of few more people that day!

Besides this musical exploitation risk I took in Psychology I came up with some imagery and poetry approaches for Philosophy that year. In this case, my classmates tried to repeat the Psychology class embarrassment, but the teacher loved it, since I was quite a bit ahead of the class in that subject and was able to relate to it in a playful, creative, esthetical way. I wasn’t crazy at all, as most of my classmates were determined to make me feel: I was very clever and I was getting out of the box for school presentations. What other chances did I have in a conventional school?

My only two short-films scripts to be seen through to this day are from that same year and the following one, for my History class. I chose Letters after the 9th grade and I really missed my Art classes for expression purposes, because I writing became too solitary and by itself was just no longer enough for me. I needed image, I needed movement, I needed sound, I needed more!

Funny… I simply couldn’t keep it all inside after ’89. Just like the little Claudia who drove mom nuts in the city when she ran off in boat rides with strangers and sat on beggars’ laps, I was once again unafraid of doing whatever I wanted when I wanted and I begun to know a lot a people not only in Germany, but also when I got back to Portugal, making friends from out of my village and out my school’s town, where many people gossiped and made things up about me. Although my mother always trusted and stood up for me, she was told I drunk and smoked long before I tasted those things. Oh, but rumors and lies do hurt you, don’t they?

Years went by and I truly didn’t get how anyone could be so hypercritical, as to have the trouble to seam friendly to my face and go around my back saying bad things about me, contaminating people that didn’t know me with prejudice, before they had the chance to form their own opinion about me. Those people could never distinguish a lie from a truth about me, much less when it came from a person I incautiously allowed inside my life.

Ok, I’m looking in the mirror again and this time I stunned by how life surpassed the maddest fiction. Although child abuse accusations came after I “left you”, I never took them seriously and was amazed by how far they went. The fact that a journalist plaid such a sadistic part in a hard controversial period of your life and my own experience these past years, working with as a communications consultant, make me say press-professionals are not good or bad themselves, just plain slippery. That journalist came to you through a friend and had, in fact, done great journalistic pieces from a sensible perspective, as you recognized yourself.

Press people are special because of their difficult noble mission they have, which is to search for and select socially relevant facts, to interpret them in informative terms and to pass them out to public opinion. The tricky thing is that there are editorial orientations, media bosses, ratings, sponsors and salary advertisers that a journalist’s free spirit, ethics and good-sense sometimes antagonizes. People say a job is a job, good workers get better at what they do by doing it and somewhere along the way lines may get pretty thin.

I’m not excusing anyone, especially since I believe we should all face our faults and errors, not only to retract them as publicly as we made them out to be in the first place, but to compensate the set-back they represent in our human development. This set-back can have a small-scale effect on Man-kind or a huge one; it depends on your conscience, really; it depends on how connected you are to our collective conscience, for those who see it that way.

I remember one of the little shocks I went through in early nineties, in this particular field of human sordidness. I had just been involved in the accident I mentioned previously, as one which kept me from night dates for a while. Well, I had this accident the first time I ever went out without my father driving me (he used to drop me in town at 12p.m. and usually picked me up at 2a.m.). That calamitous evening my parents trusted the friends I was going out with and gave one more hour, but around 3a.m. the car that was driving me home turned over, scattering the front window shield and throwing it violently to my face. I was bruised all over, bled from various facial scratches, suffered a profound cut that pieced my chin all the way into my gingival, I was down cold, unconscious and then unaware of myself until broad daylight. Blinding sunshine and cold water washing away blood are the fist things I can remember after the turmoil inside the raged rolling-over car.

Because of this accident, I had minor surgery and stayed at home in bed, weary with over-all physical pain and with a stitched, swollen, black-and-blue injury in my chin, which troubled my speech and made me ask my mother to keep my friends from visiting me. I felt grotesquely disfigured and didn’t want to worry or terrify anyone. I was terrified myself because I didn’t know how long I would be like that or if I would ever look the same as before. As a matter of fact, I needed my friends’ comfort, but I couldn’t make them go through seeing me like that, so I preferred to have them talk to my mother on the phone and suffer alone, helped by all the treatment and medication my private nurse-mom provided.

It just so happened that one of my friends did come anyway. He was an older boy I’d met not long before the accident, but that my mother knew quite well, as a scout’s monitor and as an epileptic. He was in the car with me and was actually the one who asked my parents to take me out that unfortunate night, assuring them that his fire-fighter friend who was driving didn’t drink a drop of alcohol. It was true, he didn’t, but it was fire-season and fire-men weren’t getting much sleep, so that commendable driver couldn’t stay awaked on the wheel. What the “falling asleep doom” already hunting me as a child, when I cried all night long? I don’t know.

I was sleeping on painkillers when my friend arrived to visit me. He waited for hours with my mother in the kitchen and said he wouldn’t go away without talking to me face to face. Since he probably felt guilty or shocked because of what we went through with me, I decided I shouldn’t be cruel to him and approved of him seeing me.

And so I found myself with this tortured friend of mine sitting on my bed as I lied sore, listening to him speak like this: “Claudia, I must tell you something and hope you realize I’m one of the few people you know that would never tell you a bad thing about anyone. When I first approached you, I tried to clean up my name in your mind, because of all that is said about me, and you told me you where just meeting me and that what I showed you was all you needed to know. You said it has as if I had just been born into your live and that, so far, you were grateful for it.”

He got my attention with this, and went on. “Prepare yourself, because I know it’s going to hurt you and I’ll understand if you never speak to me again after this. As much as I value your friendship, I’ve tormented myself over this for days and I have no choice but to tell you, because you’re too trustful and can’t see who is, and who definitely never was and never can be your friend.”

At this time, my facial injury started throbbing as my heartbeat rose up. Something was breaking inside of me, and the saddest thing was that the dirty work was being done by a new friend I liked. This one friend that came to see me couldn’t comfort me and felt he had to cause me more pain.

His eyes became misty and so did mine. “Please don’t cry. I won’t be able to tell you what you must know if you do.” But I did, I started crying. I didn’t want to know! I was already aching and didn’t need any more of that, so I told him his distress was the thing that was hurting me the most at that moment. “If it’s all that bad, please let it be, I won’t blame you for it. If you must, then tell me when I get back to school”, I begged him.

But he replayed he couldn’t. “This is tearing me up and I can’t get drinking off my mind because of it. I must tell you as soon as possible.” As an epileptic, his alcohol problems got him in serious trouble so it was perfectly clear he came to me as a limit option: he really had to tell me something awful.

Even though I reminded him I didn’t care what people thought about me, and that he shouldn’t be so upset about that either, he actually told me: a classmate of mine, who I helped a lot in Philosophy classes and worked at the club where we had been in the night of the accident was telling everyone I was sleeping around with all sorts of boys. Well, at the age of 16 I was a still a virgin, didn’t have a boyfriend at that time and didn’t made out with anyone at the club, especially since I was into the very interesting and respectful blue-eyed boy who worked at the club-door, as my classmate knew, since the handled the bags and jackets at the entrance.

There was absolute silence in my room for a while. Time had stopped and the as if to make it run again, the phone rang down the corridor. My mother picked it up, it was that classmate of mime and, unfortunately, through my mom’s replies, I could understand she was not exactly asking about my health, but whether I’d be able be make it to the final term Philosophy test…

I told the friend who brought me that devastating but very timely revelation to leave at once and close my bedroom door behind him, and then I cried my eyes out. They became as swollen and sore as the rest of my face. In ‘93 you had almost vanished from my mirror and it showed me the ugliest monster I’d ever faced: it showed me wicked undue pain.

I’ve seen worst since than but that’s not really important, because I’ve seen the purity and beauty too and I prefer to keep that in mind. It’s just that I was easily played along by two-faced people to their advantage, because I was truly unable to see meanness around me. I stubbornly stayed like that throughout the years and I have had a number of wakeup calls. So did you, Michael, terrible ones, and you didn’t deserve them, because you were kind and honourable. My heart knows that and does not condemn you for human mistakes or defensive lies.

You’re safe now and I can still get tricked but I believe these days I sense when something’s not right in the vibes I get from a person, even though all I do is get away from that person (now I don’t like to lose time with no-good people). As you told Paul McCartney, “I’m a lover, not a fighter”.

I got away once again in May this year and I became unemployed, dedicating myself entirely to a master thesis on interactive performance I aimed to finish for a long time. That was how you death caught me, my dear friend, and the fact that you became so present in my life for being no longer in this world, has stripped me of all false and external goals I might still have.

No, I’m not like you, I never was, but your mission was fully accomplished with me. You were an empowering example when I thought everything about me was wrong and you helped me defeat the blinding wickedness that stood between me and the generous, bright, creative and beautiful young girl I was, growing up at the speed of light. My potential didn’t become clear to me just like that and I have had my ups and downs along the “yellow brick road”, but that «Bad» poetics restored some hope in me and bought me time. Thank you, Michael.

Even though I wanted to stay a little child for ever, you showed I no longer feared «Thriller» and encouraged me to feel as alive as I possibly could. I’m a woman now and I definitively can’t shut my eyes not to see pain, so if it’s too much for me to bear, then I should either join you or do something about it.

Well, I already confessed I have reservations about meeting you... Although you appreciated your fans – and I know that now – I’ve always been afraid the composed Zen acquaintance that linked me to you from the beginning would turn in to blaring frenzy if I faced you in person, making me seam silly. The integrity of our “special thing” made me refuse the idea of ever setting foot on a concert or going to a place where I knew I could find you. Holograms and dreams of you flying with me like Peter Pan were just perfect for me. I actually had such dreams and those were my «Butterflies» back then. You see, flying away was a silenced «Bad» message I somehow perceived, my dear.

Now let me tease you… I was keeping you in my mirror, right there «In The Closet» years before you asked, and since you made it a vow and I’m no longer a young lady, you can follow me up on that promise when I go back in. «Forever Michael».

Your last mirror reflection told me we are not immortal. People around us, just like ourselves, can fall asleep unexpectedly and I’m afraid I haven’t been taking very good care of my body and my mind. I guess I learned how to take care of others, but not how to take care of me. I’m only glad that, if we meet soon, as I fully converge to the universal soul, there’ll be no screaming, crying or fainting. It will be serene.

I ought to learn, give and be happy out here for a while longer though, as a tribute to you and those who once believed I could “make that change”. So “I’m starting with the woman in the mirror”, in order to heal some of this aching World. I’m bit slower than I used to be and I just hope I have the time to «Moonwalk» again, in my new living-room floor.

Do you know something? Up north, that little village has been governed by so called communists for the past 20 years and believe me when I say I’m all for good old socialistic ideals, but what if open-minded bright young people got elected for a change this year? I think it would be quite “refreshing” and I dare to believe it’s possible. When a new generation is whished for and loved it can mean a conscious clean break and miracles do happen!

Why don't we talk again in another 20 years, to see how that village turned out and if I’m still "easing on down my yellow brick road"? I don't care how long it takes or how hard might be to finally "get home" - I mean the one I'm making for myself, inside out. I'll take all the blows, I'm not giving up on this road! Before I surrender to tiredom and boredom, someone has to put me down cold first!!!

You just rest in peace, sweet angel. I’m not giving up, so help me God!