Sunday, April 23, 2006

Catch Me, I'm Falling

The music of those transitional years of the late 80s really bring back memories for me. Songs like Company B's Fascinated, I Can't Wait from Nu Shooz and Jodi Watley's Lookin For A New Love kept me sane during my long trips to and from work, via my walkman and stations like Eagle 106fm. They also entertained me while trapped in my little corner of the world, versus being deep in the center city clubs til all hours of the night. I was stuck in an alternate universe without a road map.

It's fitting that upon entering my exile one of the biggest club hits around - especially here in Philly - was from local faves Pretty Poison. It hit the clubs in 1987 and summed up my life ... "Catch Me (I'm Falling)". I truly had no handle on my life at that moment. I was 23 and clueless as to what I was doing next. Just surviving I guess.

I remember that I cried the first time I heard that song. Go figure, here is this poppy dance hit about love and it brings me to tears. To me, all I could hear was the title being sung over and over ... catch me. I'm falling. catch me.

There was no one to catch me then. I had left all my friends, my world as I knew it, my family as I felt it. I was holed up in a crisp 1959 apartment in the bowels of Northeast Philadelphia, slicing lunchmeat overnight and searching for new people to grab hold of during the times I wasn't sleeping.

I decided to enroll in a tech class for radio, since I had always loved music and the business of radio. The course was a sham and designed to get all students to take out loans - which the "school" got in full and us poor shmucks were stuck paying off for years. It was taught in the 900 block of Arch Street - - which meant that I had to, not only go back into the city during the day ... but I had to travel to the exact same block I had made the hasty decision to change course, just a year ago.

I had gone to Revival a couple times since moving away - but that was late at night and I knew I would be under the radar there ... those that knew me there, respected what I was going through and just celebrated that I was with them. But now I was testing fate - walking through center city during a weekday. Thankfully, the el dropped me off a block away and i would cut through department stores and back entrances to get to the building that housed the school - just to avoid being on any main street. Paranoia had found a home in me and was settling in for the ride. Of course it had company in my ever growing coke habit, which was used to simply mask any markings of reality at that time. I just wanted to get through the day - I had no interest in absorbing what I was doing.

It felt as if I was in a bottomless well - the light at the top was small but visable - I just had to focus. I had spent most of 1987 falling and grabbing onto the sides of something to slow down, pull myself up a bit only to slip and fall some more. The only way I was able to inch myself slowly to the light was to disconnect. I couldn't allow emotions to get in the way of what I was going through.

Then, a break occured over the holidays of 1987 ... volunteers were needed to help wxpn (a station I had listened to faithfully for years) with a new program they were planning to create ... they needed telephone volunteers. I needed a purpose. I was already in the radio 'school', so I jumped at the offer and on January 4, 1988 began as a volunteer for some new radio show for kids. I didn't care what it was, as long as it gave me a sense of being. As long as it allowed me to stop falling.

18+ years later, obviously it did.

No comments: