That's one of the original songs from "Dreamgirls" which I went to go see tonight. I'd been meaning to. I decided to do so at around 8:20pm tonight, because, hey it's Friday night--just got paid--(car didn't run out of gas this morning but I still resolve never to be this broke again) money in my pocket--feeling right-- so off I went. Heading out the door I sought for what to do in the hour I had before showtime, and I remembered that something I've been waiting for for months was available now. I will have to blog about that separately, but it involves my Other Hero and I will write it for him afterwards.
But now, I want to say a little something about "Dreamgirls".
Let's go back, shall we?
WABC Radio was not always a talk station, you know. It used to play the Top 40. I would sit in my room with Harry Harrison spinning the hits. Songs I still love today. And what I used to do was sit and listen to the music and sing along while I drew my own little comic books. I remember The Space Lords but there were others. I may have done a few of these with my Childhood Bud but mostly I was alone. Me, my comics, and the music.
Just the other night, a song came on somewhere that took me back to a birthday I had on a Saturday. My mother sent me to NYC on Saturdays then, to meet an adult cousin and his kids and take Aikido in a downtown Manhattan dojo with him as the sensei. That day, when he found out it was my birthday, he gave me a 20 dollar bill! I remember leaving the dojo on my own, instead of going back to his home with his kids, and heading to Times Square to spend this money on myself. I decided I would go see "Star Wars". It was in the theaters still. The ticket seller would not let me in unaccompanied by an adult.
For some reason, the song "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty makes me remember that day. That song makes me remember that whole time in my life when I would be set out on the streets of New York, a twelve year old? Fourteen? Taking buses and trains, going to the comicbook conventions, getting back issues of the Fantastic Four out of the back-issue bins each time I went. Finding gold when I found the exact issue that was missing out of my growing collection. And listening to WABC when I got home and read my comics.
My mind was so alive then. I spun universes under Harry Harrison's voice. I wrote my first novel back then. Typed it out on an Olivetti. I've since lost it during my many moves. But that was when I knew I had something--that I could be something.
So, so many years later, the dream is still alive. It's so fully alive in me right now, I feel fit to burst. Yes, it's because I'm a writer. Yes, because I've been told I write good stuff. Yes because I am finally getting my stuff published, and well received. But moreover, because in August a hero told me,
"Yes - we are the same.
Thank you for all of your support, and for just being who you are. The world is a better place for it."
Watching "Dreamgirls" tonight was not really, for me, about obtaining success, or learning the lessons of pride, or even about how much I loved Jennifer Hudson in "American Idol" the year that she competed, and how I watched no further because I didn't want her to lose.
It was about the song "One Night Only" and remembering when that was the only song they used to advertise the Broadway show in television commercials, back in the day. I had completely forgotten that song was in it. And when I heard it, I went back to my early teens. Sitting on my bedroom floor, drawing the SpaceLords listening to Harry Harrison and "Baker Street". Or "Hello, It's Me" by Todd Rundgren. Or "Always and Forever" by Heatwave. Or "Even The Nights Are Better" by Air Supply. Or anything by Fleetwood Mac. Or "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Croft.
Music and comicbooks.
I cannot return to those days. I no longer really want to. The years have past and I am what I am. But I feel the dream is still alive. I feel like I'm not too old. I feel like it's okay to attempt something big--or more like, I feel that it WAS okay to attempt something big. I reached out to a television star and he answered and now he's honestly my friend. He even believes in me. In me.
I didn't cry one single time, watching "Dreamgirls", and I thought I would. I thought my heart would break with Effie White (who even had my last name!). But 1) Effie was not a sad, sympathetic character, and 2) all I could see was Jennifer Hudson, an "American Idol" reject,
stealing the movie from Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy, and Jamie Foxx. Stealing it AWAY. (She even SAID she would do this part in her ET interview after she'd been rejected!)
Jennifer Hudson may not have been as brokedown as I was in my youth. She may have had a lot of love and support in her life by the time she got to "American Idol". She may have done well when she left the show and not been as brokedown as I am right now. But for her, failure turned into something unimaginably huge.
Tonight, I feel like it can do the same for me.
I have a potential of forty more years of productivity ahead of me.
I've already started.
So as far as my past doubts and fears and regrets?
"... I'm Telling You"
I'm not going.