I would dare say I am an optimist. I believe everything happens for a Divine reason and purpose. You can catch me quoting James Allen, Jesus and Deepak Chopra on any given day. But the last week of June was a whopper.

First, I was laid off.

It was the typical “we love you, “hate to do this,” “we are restructuring,” “the economy’s bad,” “we are eliminating your position” classic Corporate America moment. I took it in stride because I view a job like a man. They come and go. Sometimes with or without warning, and I never allow myself to get comfortable.

My desk had no pictures, no quotes, plants, or fish. I had no signs of attachment. Coworkers often commented on my lack of personal desk adornments. I always advised, “It’s because I don’t attach myself to my desk. I am here to work not decorate.”

I loved my job and the people I worked with. But, I refused to be the type of needy employee who felt the world would end if I lost it. When other people were laid off they cried, they begged to be rehired. I simply smiled and hugged everyone goodbye and walked out the door, knowing I was walking out into something new and beautiful. My optimism was at an all-time high.

I actually behaved similar to my last breakup. I became a Lion and kept my shield up. My strength is my weapon. And, the universe will take care of me, I said to myself as my employers explained the reasons for my departure. Words I have often said to myself when other people or events have let me down.

Then, the next day, Michael Jackson died. And a part of me did as well.

His music was a theme song to my life from birth until now. I felt like I lost the innocence of my childhood. I was actually scared of the video “Thriller,” which dates my age. I know Michael was odd. He changed a lot of his physical self, but I believe Mike was always a nice guy who just wanted to be loved. And, he was a master at his craft. Something I hope to become.

I never got a chance to see him perform. I still have a MJ button at my mother’s house that I wore on my backpack as a kid. I still do back flips on dance floors to any of his songs. I remember wanting to be his best friend.

All the memories piled and I, the self-proclaimed Lion, began to cry. I cried because Mike reminds me of my sweeter self. When I didn’t have guards and life hadn’t really gotten her hands on me. Before I was a Lion I was a Michael Jackson fan playing his music in the front of my mother’s house with 40 neighborhood kids. We would blast the boom box all day until the street lights came on.

My fondest memory is how we would react if we were outside and found out MTV was playing one of Michael’s videos. In the ’80s, MTV rarely played black music; we would be outside playing and some older person would come and advise that one of Michael Jackson’s videos were on. We would all literally run home or to the nearest house to watch it. We jumped off and dropped bikes and hoola hoops. We ended games of Uno and hide-and-go-seek. When MJ’s videos were on, the neighborhood was silent. That shows the impact he had on our young minds.

MJ reminds me of when my life was simplistic and I never worried about bills, jobs, cheating men or my future. I was truly living in the moment. Better yet, I was living without my guard up, freely, yet attached, which is lovely and something I rarely do. Something I need to relearn.

Tiffany Hill is a freelance journalist living in Charlotte.

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