David Bowie died yesterday at the age of 69.
I was lucky enough to have him in my life for 29 years and this morning is difficult for me.
The first subversive thing I did as a child was to sneak away with a friend at the age of 11 and ride the bus to the local movie theatre where we saw Labyrinth.
And that movie opened up an entire world to me. Yes, I identified to a sickening amount with the young girl who felt that no one understood her and I thought she was an idiot for not staying in the Labyrinth.
But Labyrinth also introduced me to my first love, David Bowie. Brought up my first remembered sexual stirrings, illuminated my tendency towards the dark elements of life.
I was obsessed. I fell immediate and hard.
A year or so later, the first day I met my best friend of junior and high school, she took one look at my Bowie papered locker and nicknamed me "Bowie" - I was known by that name to all but my childhood friends and family for the next decade.
Sure, I flirted with Robert Smith. I like the Pet Shop Boys. I went through a Beatles phase, like all respectable teenagers. But while all the teenage girls around me swooned over Morrissey, I was baffled at the attraction. Why him, when you could have the original dark and brooding creative man? I persisted, sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly, in my whole devotion to Bowie.
I've mostly left behind the musicians, artists, actors of my youth. I'll hear Erasure songs and turn them up, happy to have rediscovered a band I used to love. I'll watch a film with Leonardo DiCaprio and still feel like he is an excellent actor, and glad that I feel like I grew up along side him, in a way.
But I'm always striving to look forward in my life, to discover new artists and novelists and actors. I'm a minimalist in so many ways; I keep room in my life and my heart only for the enduring, and Bowie is one of the few... and the very first one, both in my life and the top of my priorities.
Bowie taught me that the stifling and restricting environment I grew up in didn't have to be my life. I could leave there, both physically and intellectually. He awoke in me a desire to travel and explore and to be okay with being an odd one out. With Life on Mars, I realized that someone didn't have to be a girl or a teenager to understand my emotions. A friend and I shared a love for Bowie - we would drive around in his truck, blasting Under Pressure together, and I can never hear the song without crying, because that friend killed himself in that truck in our final high school year. That's the terror of knowing what this world is about: watching some good friends scream, Let me out.
There have been distinct moments in my life when that very song, and others from Bowie, were the sole moments that prevented me from making that same ultimate decision that my friend made.
My first twenty hours on my first trip to London, I went to the home where Bowie was born, in Brixton.
I just can't even begin to adequately relate my loss. I feel bereft. I also feel, as we should always with the passing of an astonishing influence on our lives, incredibly happy and grateful to have had him in my life.