Over the past year, like so many, I worked my way through Netflix, side-lining Brené Brown for Gossip Girl and Schitt's Creek. I branched out to Spanish and French subtitles like, Coisa Mais Linda, El Dragón and Call My Agent. My family joked that I’d be translating at the United Nations in no time – that reminds me I should revisit Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman in The Interpreter. However, season after season, after thirty, sometimes sixty episodes, the heartbreak of all the endings with people I’d never meet left me clingy and desperate for a gorgeous rebound and perhaps a membership to Rosetta Stone. I was learning very little. Skeptical that there would be another, I dared to search outside of “Because You Watched”, and found myself in uncharted territory, and then the documentary, Lil Peep, Everybody’s Everything. I had left the place on the screen that kept me in line with “What’s Trending” and walked away from all that was assumed about me.
I was in a new relationship with rapid-fire fog machines and slur; a run-on of poetic profanity in scream, and raw bass, unfamiliar to my discerning 80’s ear. The sporadic bursts of smoke hid and revealed, simultaneously, the darkness and pain of this boy-rapper with "Crybaby" tattooed on his forehead – did he know Johnny Depp’s Cry Baby? His life was so short there wasn’t much to document, but still I watched. His grandfather, Womack, narrated – the documentary’s redemption –by reading letters he’d written to Lil Peep, calling Peep, “my prophet, my tattooed poet” - a sweet departure from the exhausting footage of ransacked apartments, ill-fitting pants, and sycophants skipping in slow motion with their eyes half closed.
Impressing myself with being current and having a Grand Canyon sized open mind.
I text my twenty-year-old son, “I’m watching documentary on Lil Peep. I think you would like. His grandfather writes him letters.”
The response, “What? I can’t believe you’re watching Lil Peep. LOL.” We agreed the music wasn’t so great, but Womack’s letters were.
My confidence in rebounds grew. I didn’t have to immerse myself in long term partnerships in random countries. I could watch from afar, without a commitment. I pressed play. Over and over.
In no time I had stepped off a middle-aged curb, up into a tour bus that would eventually come to a screeching halt at the end of a yellow light, sending sad, lyrical stories flying, forcing me to ask, should I stay, or should I go? My mother running alongside pleading with me to think about all I could accomplish at the UN. The driver, vying for my attention, hurling the remote at me,
“YOU, love this!”
I threw one hand in the air waving us forward, as the surround sound thumping took over indecision and worry. I let out a long-held breath and thought, the UN is not my thing, I never had a propensity for languages, and at what Zoom meeting would quotes from Womack’s letters be useful?
With my eyes half opened I pressed play one last time for the documentary, This is the Life.
The rough VHS footage featuring the late 80’s underground hip hop scene born out of the health food store, Good Life, in Los Angeles, came over me like an aspirin as I detoxed from Peep, Travis Scott, Logic and Biggie Smalls - a Netflix rabbit hole of unaccommodating childhoods, mosh pits, drive by shootings, and the ever-present void tangled in oversized diamond chains and a Kardashian girlfriend.
Freestyle Fellowship - a part of the Good Life family of emcees - Aceyalone, Myka 9, P.E.A.C.E., and Self Jupiter, reached down deep and hoisted me up to the light where people my age are safer. I took a swig of Pellegrino and scribbled “freestyle fellowship” on the back of a magazine, knowing it would come in handy if I ever had to explain my “Recently Watched” queque.
I was ready to make dinner again, throw in a load of laundry and answer a few questions. I don’t know how long I had been gone, or if it mattered in the scheme of CNN’s recommendations to be absent. I did peek out to the front lawn in hopes of seeing tire tracks from an oversized bus carrying oversized personalities; aching a bit to forgo Spring plans to redo the landscaping and run off to stages and hotel rooms with things tipped over.
Fellowship is mingling on common ground - “What’s Trending…Because You Watched.” Freestyle fellowship, well, let me suggest: a mingling with the uncommon, creating new ground. It’s the moment when each artist became a google search because their beats had tempted mine. It’s the text to my son, that I might have seen and heard things I shouldn’t have. It’s quoting Womack during a Zoom meeting. It’s the unrehearsed rapport with life; a fantastic, and strange slow-motion skip.