I spent much of last week doing some work to move something from being an Idea to being A Thing. I’m still not sure that it’s going to be the Thing I thought it was going to be, because it kind of wants to be this whole other Thing and … you know what? It doesn’t matter. This doesn’t make any sense outside of my head, anyway.
The point is, I spent a lot of time reading my own blog last week, and I was so grateful to Past Wil for writing and publishing those things, here, when he didn’t even think for a moment that Future Wil would want to see them again. I also noticed enormous gaps where I didn’t publish anything, which made me a little sad for whatever Past Wil was going through then.
Today, I got one of those Facebook Memories that I was very surprised to discover I didn’t xpost to my blog. So I’m copying it here, today, for Future Wil, and also for Current Anyone Who Is Interested.
This is from October 2, 2019:
When I was at a con a couple weeks ago, I met a lovely woman who shared her scrapbook from the 80s with me. It’s kind of a time capsule of me from about 13 to 17, filled with pictures and clippings from all the teen magazines my mother made me be part of, even though it was *way* out of my comfort zone to be in these pictures, or to talk to people I didn’t know about my personal stuff.
Based on the mock turtleneck, the larger photo is probably from about 1988, when I was 15 or maybe 16. You can see that this was during a hot minute when I was trying to lean in on my cowlick, and just make it some big dumb stand up thing that I tried to convince myself didn’t look as dumb as it did.
The inset photo is from when we filmed the music video for Stand By Me. This was taken *very* early in the cycle of publicity for the movie. I’m pretty sure it predates even the first teen magazine thing I had to do. Man, I remember how conflicted I felt on that day. On the one hand, I was so excited to be part of something that was going to be on MTV (kids, you gotta know that in those days, for teenagers, being on MTV was the coolest thing, ever). But I was also terrified, because I had (and have) no rhythm, did not (and do not) like to dance, and just felt like an alien in my own body.
River and his family were incredibly musical. He could play guitar and sing, and they were all so comfortable on that set, I wished I could have just settled into it like they did.
During a break, we all ended up in a dressing room on the stage with Ben E. King, and River and he just started jamming together. River picked up a guitar — remember, he was only 15 or 16, and Ben E. King was a legend — and just started strumming. Ben E. King started singing, and before we knew it, everyone in the room was singing with him. Someone pulled a harmonica out and started playing it. Someone else began to drum on the back of a chair, and River’s mom danced that dance we always see people doing at Grateful Dead shows.
I remember feeling so thrilled to be in that room, and also feeling so sad and anxious that I couldn’t join in with them. And that’s really sad to me, now. I couldn’t vocalize it at the time, and I probably wasn’t aware of it then, but I had been so relentlessly bullied by the man who was my father, I had no confidence, terrible self esteem, and I lived in constant fear of being humiliated.
I wonder how that day would have been for me if I’d had the confidence to just dance and sing and join in, without the always-on fear that someone would tease me or make me feel small for not being the best at it. At the very least, that picture wouldn’t make me feel sad, like I need to hug that kid and mentor him the way the man who is his father should have.
Some day, I will see pictures of young me, and I won’t feel sad. I don’t know how I’m going to get there, but it’ll happen. Some day.
Here’s the video. I’m super awkward, but I still got to be on MTV, which was pretty cool.