Michael believes in destiny. During a phone conversation in September 2008, he told me:
“It’s all cosmic, you know. We are connected to each other. We are drawn to one another. Even tonight, this phone call, it’s cosmic. You wanted to talk to me. And I wanted to hear your voice. And that’s why we’re talking now. The universe made it happen.”
I believe it was my destiny to go to Michael, to love him with all my heart and to support him in every way that I could.
There were some fans, perhaps 50 or so, who travelled to see Michael several times a year over a decade or more and were therefore known to each other and to him. We are often referred to in fan circles as followers. That is NOT an elitist term. We all know that Michael loves ALL of his fans and that there would have been many more among us if they had had the means to travel. We were beyond fortunate and I’m sure we all recognize that.
So how did we do it – and why?
First off, we all started out the same, loving Michael from afar. Then, somehow, we discovered that it was possible to see him, not only on stage, but off stage as well. My moment of realization came when I was 13 years old and I watched a special about super-fans, some of whom had actually met their idols. One of them was a huge MJ fan who had been to several of the Bad concerts and even had photos of him she’d taken while waiting outside his hotel in London. I decided that when I grew up, I was going to travel to see him too.
Next, we found out that there were fans who travelled to see him ALL the time, fans who he recognized and responded to very strongly. And we met people who wanted to travel to see him too. I met my HIStory tour bff on the steps of Wembley Stadium in London the night before the first concert there. A few days later, she bought a last-minute flight ticket to Ireland, so we could go to the concert in Dublin together. While sitting in a local McDonalds, we decided to follow as much of the tour as we could, each saying, “I will if you will,” while praying and hoping our parents would allow us to go – they did.
We soon got swept up in this other world, where every moment was an adventure. We got to know more people and built up a network of follower-fan-friends. We learned the tricks of the trade – how to find information, how to get into events, where to go, what to do… And when we saw Michael, he responded to us with so much love and appreciation, thanking us for every little gift and letter, telling us how happy it made him to see us, inviting us to the next event, to go shopping with him, to Neverland…
We had fun together even when Michael wasn’t around. But in the end, it was his response that made us do what we did. He made us feel that everything we did for him was worthwhile, that it was important and meaningful, that it enriched his life. After all those years of receiving his love from afar, we finally had the privilege of giving something in return. What more could anyone wish for?!
To be a follower took a huge amount of determination (to be there no matter what), perseverance (to wait for hours to see him, sometimes in extreme temperatures) and luck (to have the means and freedom to travel). Some of my most amazing experiences came about simply because I happened to be in the right place at the right time, be that outside Neverland or in a hotel lobby. You could wait two weeks at his hotel and leave the day before he came and talked to everyone for an hour – or you could just come for one day and it could be THAT day. There was no knowing what was going to happen or when. And that added to the sense of adventure and possibility.
I know there are many people in the world who love Michael as much as I do but never got a chance to see him, either because of financial restraints, family or work commitments, or because they felt they’d be intruding and so stayed away, and many more who were waiting to see him in London in July 2009, perhaps for the first time. My heart goes out to them all, for all their stolen dreams, for the next generation of followers cheated of their destiny.
Whenever Michael talked about his fans, he talked about ALL his fans. He wasn’t exclusive. He was inclusive. He said he could feel our energy and love from afar and it touched him deeply. We were ALL there for him, every one of us… every fan who was loyal to him and defended him, every fan who supported him through the trial, every fan who stood outside his hotel holding a banner, every fan who ever wrote him a letter or gave him a gift, every fan who cheered for him at a concert, every fan who channeled good wishes his way, every fan who loves him with all their heart, every fan who misses him deeply…every fan.