David Bowie and someone else’s ‘Heroes’
Losing David Bowie isn’t like losing a favorite musician or losing a parent. I’ve experienced both. I am not sure I know what he was to me.
In my life, Bowie ended up embodying the plot of a science fiction novel. I don’t think he’d have minded showing up in someone’s life, but he might have been disappointed that he was acting out a novel someone else had already used.
My ex-wife, the mother of my children, spent years talking about a college boyfriend. They had gone on this romantic, slightly obvious trip to Europe, during her sophmore year, and said goodbye to the strains of “Heroes.” It was a story that, by osmosis, became my memory. Very little made my wife cry, but “Heroes” did. We always had to turn it off when it came on. Eventually, I would cry when I’d hear the song in public, though I wasn’t referencing my own memory. I was responding to the echo of someone else’s memory.
As I take in the news of Bowie’s death, I see trucks rolling out in the night, filled with rebar and wires and plumbing.
I don’t know what is in any of those trucks. Maybe nothing I need, maybe everything.
On Twitter: @sfj
For the Record
Jan. 11, 2:42 p.m.: A previous version of this post referred to the high school boyfriend of the author’s wife. He was her college boyfriend.
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