Old Memories Reignited

27 Jul

A long time ago, in a galazy 10 miles away from where I live now, my cousins moved to VT from Illinois. They’d lived there most of their lives and had a VERY different way of living than I was used to.
My youngest cousin, Marie, had a HUGE obsession – we’re talking stalking-crazy-girl type obsession – with some singer I’d never heard of called Aaliyah.
Here in Northern VT, we’re a bit behind, and we’re very, VERY white, so R&B? Not very popular. The only two radio stations we got (and still get dammit) were easy listening and country. My mom was thought to be a bit crazy for listening to Def Leppard and Bon Jovi!
Anyway, Marie’s obsession was for both Aaliyah and R. Kelly – another R&B artist I’d never heard of. She tried to get me to listen to their music, but I was having none of it. No one could pull me away from my New Kids on the Block CD. (laugh, go ahead, but you know you had one)
A few years later, I heard that this Aaliyah was going to be acting with Jet Li in a movie. “Heh,” I thought, “another wanna-be black artist…we’ll see how long THIS lasts.”
Then I watched the movie – ‘Romeo Must Die’ – Wow.
I believe myself to be a good judge of character, and in this woman I saw strength, gentleness, caring, and grace. A true, genuine, loving lady – very reminiscent to me of Princess Diana – albiet with better dance moves and WAY better abs. I really enjoyed her acting and started pestering my cousin Marie about her constantly.
“Oh – NOW you’re listening to me.” Smartassed-ness runs in the family.
I borrowed a few CD’s and started listening, enthralled by the silky smooth voice. There wasn’t anything THAT special about it – she didn’t hit notes like Mariah or have a deep voice like others, but it was clean and smooth and there was a quality about it that was…pure. She wasn’t screaming into the mic, just singing softly, but strongly. She learned “old school” singing – you know – where you hide your breathing during your singing, instead of going *GASP* in the middle of your verse *coughBritneycough*.
Next thing I knew, she was on the roll call for a position as Akasha in ‘Queen of the Damned’. No way she could pull that off, I thought, she’s way too sweet. She proved to everyone in that role that she was an actor, as she was easily believable as the vile Queen of the vampires. They had her on the list next for a role in the Matrix sequel…which I loved…and I was psyched.
“She’s really got a future.” I told Scott, who can’t stand most of my music. He, however, totally agreed with me and seemed to be as affected by her sweetness as I was.
Then – the plane wreck.
She was eight months older than me, a 21 year old with a new baby, and she was gone. It made me aware of how fragile life was, and how quickly it could be taken away. Both Marie and I mourned for a woman we had never met, but who had touched our lives in different ways. For me, by exposing me to music other than what was played around here, and for her, by helping her to survive an abusive homelife and a very rough transition. We would both escape into her silky smooth voice and relax.
And then, as memories do, she faded into the background of my mind and became forgotten.
Yesterday, at Pizza Putt, they played “Are You That Somebody” over the loudspeakers, and I remembered. I came home and instantly downloaded a bunch of her songs, putting them on my player to listen to when I was working.
All I can think about now, is the difference betwen her and young Hollywood now a days. She worked her tail off and made something of herself. She worked almost nonstop, and still had time for a smile and autograph for her fans. She wasn’t caught with her pussy hanging out by the paparazzi, and tended to avoid the party scene. Lindsay – Paris – Britney – take a look at Aaliyah. SHE is what you should aspire to be like – SHE is what our children should look up to when they are looking for role models…
RIP Aaliyah – and thanks.

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