“Look, Ne! It’s the Born This Way Foundation! Let’s check it out!”
I exclaimed like a kid in a candy store as we wandered the stadium halls, hustling past stairwells, hurriedly searching for our mezzanine spots. Ne shot back a long, weary stare stemming from jetlag and the kind of agitation coming along with driving into St. Louis on I-55. The *blink blink* and body language indicated concession.
“Let’s write a note to Gaga in her book!”
“Okay, but like, don’t take a picture of what I write or show anybody. I’m weird about people reading my stuff.”
Addicted to The Fame
“That Bitch stole my tunnel!” shouting in my parent’s living room while Nate grinned in glee.
I had just completed my masterpiece short film with my two best friends and little bro entitled “Stilettos, Penguins, and a Defunct Windmill.” It’s a story about Bong, James Bong, saving the town where we all went to high school from the evil Glamazon and her plot to blow it up so the land could be used for a huge mall.
To cut to the chase, the town blew up…but not without my comic book self dropping into a 3-D world via a stop-motion animation sequence involving a dream tunnel.
“Yeah, she did. She’s amazing! She freaked everyone the fuck out at the VMAs! She performed this [Paparazzi] and ended the song with blood pouring down her body!”
And that was the first time Lady Gaga saved my life.
* * *
“Are those trampolines? Is she going to fly from the mainstage over?”
“WHAT IS SHE GOING TO DO.”
More than an hour stood between us an showtime. Time led way to speculation about the performance. The inclined seating nearly set off vertigo but, one could not complain with such a great view from anywhere in the house. Already the night distinguished itself from my typical nights in a St. Louis venue. For one, my new band tee was white! I wasn’t on the floor mentally preparing for the ravage of the pits. I could make time for a quick nap if I desired. But the excitement began to build. And every second meant one second closer to seeing our adored Mother Monster.
Heavy Metal Lover
2011. My life took steep turns I never expected. My last semester of undergrad rolled closer and closer through the proverbial windshield. I lived with my shy guitarist ex-boyfriend of three years at the time Born This Way dropped and fell madly in love with the homages to the Heavy Metal genre. In May, I achieved my greatest accomplishment; I graduated with my Bachelor’s from the University I adored since I was about 13 years old. And just six days after I walked across the stage to basking in the glory of working through exhaustion and tears…
…I got dumped.
To say a wrench was thrown into my Graduate school plans just three months away stands as a massive understatement.
Where would I live? Who would be my support system? What if I didn’t get that coveted internship? How will I live with this broken heart?
I spent that Summer driving back and forth from my old apartment with Heavy Metal Lover to my parent’s home, hauling my effects…tears pouring profusely down my cheeks, occasionally dripping onto my shirt. I drew strength from the opening chimes and lyrics of the new album blasting through my speakers while pushing 80, and often repeated to myself…
…I’m gonna marry the night.
* * *
Just 8 minutes to Gaga.
This woman swept into my life 8 years ago…it had taken this long to finally see her. Ecstasy described the sheer excitement pulsing through my body.
I, like so many little monsters, love and adore this woman so purely. A woman who preaches kindness and honesty through art. A woman who takes no shit with nothing but class. A mentor to millions.
The only thing missing from this experience was my baby brother, Nate.
Gaga: Five Foot Two
You’re givin’ me a million reasons to let you go. You’re givin’ me a million reasons to quit the show.
A broken little girl sits with a cat in her lap, choking out cries of a wounded baby animal. Tears rushing down her face. Her cat turns around in a knowingly manner, as if to say “I know you’re in pain, Mum. Just keep petting me. It will soothe you.” Upon recovering from her fit, she grabbed her half empty glass of wine, took a generous sip, and returned to the film.
I was the little girl 3 months ago. I didn’t make it 10 minutes into Gaga’s new documentary without breaking down, thinking about losing Nate. The wound is still fresh, but when her docu first aired, the sudden loss had not been 2 month passed. My baby brother, my best friend, was gone. Forever.
“Do I look pathetic? I’m so embarrassed.”
Bedridden Gaga writhes in pain in front of the camera. Her chronic pain particularly flares up during this episode. Reflecting on her personal blessings of quick resources, she immediately rebukes her lack of strength in a situation where anyone would feel the same helplessness. I saw myself in that moment, not only in my unbearable grief but in my own coping with chronic pain. She is our everywoman.
* * *
Good thing I know what I’m worth.
Save for maybe Rammstein or Metallica, I have never seen a show with such finesse in terms of production value in the performance. My awesome follower, GMihalko15, wrote a fantastic concert review of the Joanne World Tour. And no. The show was not a perfect illusion.
Maybe it was…
I’m not flawless, but I’ve got a diamond heart.
Heaven’s Not Ready For You…
“The song–the entire album–is named after her aunt whom she never met. It was her father’s sister. She died when she was young. There’s lines ‘Girl, where do you think you’re goin’? And he adored Gaga so much. We just love her so much.” I specifically described to one of the funeral directors.
The last song to Nate…MY last song…would be Joanne.
But…It almost wasn’t.
You’re giving me a…
It’s funny what trauma like losing your kid brother too young will do to your maturity level and inhibitions. Especially when he’s laying in front of you in a casket. That was about the time I finally snapped.
“That’s not the song.” I quietly stated. I looked around. Of course it was still Gaga, but goddamn it. It was not MY song. The last song I would ever share with Nate. No. I had control over one single, final fucking thing.
Do you remember the scene from the film My Girl when Vada absolutely cracks during Thomas J.’s funeral?
“That’s not the song.”
“That’s not the song.”
“That’s not the song!”
Thomas J. couldn’t see without his glasses, and Nate couldn’t say goodbye without Joanne.
“Hold her down!”
“That’s NOT the SONG!”
If Rodney had not grabbed me from behind while I was still seated, I don’t know what my person would have done after that point. Curled up in a ball. Ran up to the casket. Started chucking flowers everywhere. I just don’t know. Mechanically, I short-circuited. After watching her 29 year old adult daughter melt into the traumatic tantrum of a child, my mother let the staff know they needed to find the actual song, and quickly.
Take my hand…Stay, Joanne…
I slowly came back, softly singing lyrics to myself.
* * *
“I got to keep my sister, and my Dad didn’t.”
Okay, so maybe it’s not a million reasons Lady Gaga saved my life, but there’s been hundreds of moments when her music kept me going. And not just breakups and career struggles…she saved me at possibly my very worst moment in my entire life.
And I am in debt to her always.
I love you, Gaga. So much.
Send Lady Gaga some love by purchasing Joanne for yourself or a loved one this season. I just gave you a million reasons why!