In the early 2000s, I felt like I was living in two different worlds, with one foot in the real world and the other in his world, a secret realm of wonder and delight.
I arranged things in such a way that I could leave everything behind at the drop of a hat. I would often get just a day’s notice of an event Michael was attending, and fly to the US from Europe for the weekend – yes, for the weekend – to see him.
It wasn’t always easy of course. There were the practicalities to deal with – paying for everything, getting the time off, making last-minute arrangements – not to mention the harsh conditions my friends and I sometimes faced.
We’d wait for hours in the freezing cold (think New York in early March…brrr!) but that was all part of the adventure. No matter how far we travelled or how long we waited or how much it cost, it was always worth it. ALWAYS. We met him on every trip, often several times, and he went out of his way to make us all feel special and loved.
Safe and protected
In September 2001, fans from all over the world travelled to New York City to see Michael perform two back-to-back concerts at Madison Square Gardens. The morning after the second concert, terrorists flew two planes into the Twin Towers and devastated the city, and the world.
Airports closed, flights were rescheduled and many of us were left stranded, far from home. Michael left the Palace Hotel, where he’d been staying, that morning, but sent his security guards back to the city every evening to check up on us and make sure we all had enough money and a safe place to stay.
About a week after the attacks, the security drove Michael’s tour bus into the city to collect the remaining fans, which consisted of about a dozen of us from Europe. On Michael’s orders – and his dime – they took us to McDonalds and the movies and then drove us to the hotel in New Jersey where he was staying.
We didn’t get to see Michael that evening but he kept calling to see how we were and invited us to spend the night on the bus, which had rows of bunk beds, each with its own DVD screen.
At a very frightening time and place in history, Michael made us feel safe and protected. I never heard him speak publicly about what he did for us because of course he didn’t do it for publicity or praise. He did it because he was compelled to do so out of kindness, caring and love.