It’s February 13, 2020…and almost ten years since I’ve last looked at this magazine.
The pages are yellowed, yet still crisp and lie flat. The photos are a little faded from time, but somehow still vibrant. The magazine is still in mint condition.
I was 12 when Michael Jackson passed away. As a lonely kid in middle school, I grieved silently between classes, throwing myself into my math homework or English essays. I pretended like I was unaffected by Michael’s passing to avoid getting teased at school. I didn’t have many friends in middle school, especially ones that loved Michael as much as I did. Two months after he passed, I went to summer camp. I loved this summer camp because it was an escape from the world. There was horseback riding, games, an all-you-can-eat buffet, archery, soccer, a gymnasium with volleyball courts. This camp was my escape. But the year Michael passed, the camp felt different. I felt sad. The year before my seventh-grade year, I’d made a ton of friends and we spent time giggling in our bunks and winding together string friendship bracelets taped to our water bottles.
But my seventh-grade year was unfamiliar and alien, as what I used to know no longer existed. Girls in my cabin were talking about boys, friendships were no longer strung together with love, and camp soon became a place to rebel. I was the only black girl in my cabin and struggled to find my place at camp because I couldn’t relate to them. My life back at home consisted of cleaning the house while my mom blasted Dangerous from her ’90s speaker. While the girls in my cabin spoke about how their lakefront lodges by the bay didn’t have cell service, but they were going to be stuck there until school started. I don’t remember what lead up to it, but someone made a mean comment about Michael and the allegations. Just really horrible and disgusting things. I defended Michael, as I always had done. The girls insisted that Michael wasn’t innocent, and it shattered me. Speaking about Michael was never an issue in my household, because we all loved him. But here, as the only black girl, it was derogatory. Afterward, I felt as if there was a moat that separated me and the rest of the girls. I spent a lot of time being displaced and lonely, crying under the covers of my bunk, counting down the days until I could go home.
2009 was a hard year for me.
When I look at this magazine in particular, I’m reminded of that time. I think that’s maybe why I haven’t looked at this one in so long.
Now at 22, I have healed from my bullies, and thank Michael for helping me get through that awkward and humiliating time of my life.
Once I really looked through this magazine today, putting my childhood hurt aside, I realized that there were quite a few rare photos that I had never seen before. Many of them were either behind-the-scenes shots from music videos, Michael smiling widely with celebrities, or performing his heart out. A lot of the photos were intimate and personal, a side we rarely get to see from the stardom that cloaked Michael. The pages are a high-quality matte, so the film photography pops off the page. I love the grain of the photos, and it makes me wish I lived back in the eras when these photos were taken. I am fortunate to have been born in the Dangerous era, but unfortunately, I was too young to experience it. I was still in elementary school when Invincible was released, and that album is significant to me. But the Bad era was my absolute favorite, and I wish I could’ve attended the tour.
I hope this post isn’t too long. Thank you for letting me share my story about 2009, summer camp, and Michael. Thank you for also letting me share my collection! Very much much more to come.
Do you remember where you were when Michael passed? How was 2009 for you?
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