Monday, January 11, 2016

So long to the Thin White Duke

You all know I left home at fifteen. The course of my life has been steered entirely from that one act. Looking back I think it was actually a perfectly sensible decision, but at the time... well... best not to think too much about it. I went from being a rather sheltered child to being the only one in charge in the space of a week. (I was a ward of the state, but being in the "care" of social workers and being on my own amounted to the same thing.)

At the time I mentally divided my life into two parts, the before leaving and the after, and it is still a pretty sound description. On the cusp of my 50th birthday, I am now at last at peace with it all. But at the time... Hm.

There were a lot of people and things that helped me survive along the way, and it might sound weird, but Bowie's music was one of them. I was raised very strangely by a woman I now understand was a pathological narcissist. One of the things narcissistic mothers do, especially to daughters, is to try to insert their own personality into the child, to make her a living replica of herself a kind of puppet. I had no sense of identity when I was 15 and broke away from her. Music was one of the ways I started the process of creating a person, an identity that was separate from my mother's.

One day, I went to visit my friend and she played her Bowie albums, starting chronologically with Hunky Dory.

It was the first time I'd come across something that I really liked that my mother knew nothing about. It was the start of me becoming me. It took a long time, but here we are.

David Bowie's music, for the next ten years, was playing as the soundtrack of that entire development, and will forever stand in my mind for that period of creating independence and identity.

Which is a bit funny considering ...


1 comment:

Dymphna said...

I've never understood something about the English. They seem to be pretty rough on their kids from 13 to 15. I was reading one of Isabella Blow's biographies and her father pretty much let her go off on her own at 15. He paid for everything but she was running her own affairs and nobody apparently thought that was strange. Anna Wintour of Vogue magazine was the same way.