Sometimes, without any warning whatsoever, this community will make me have a good case of the “feels”. Those of you who have teenagers will probably know what I mean. The rest of you, well…just keep reading and you’ll catch on.
A couple of days ago, I was catching up on Facebook by reading my news feed. I noticed that I’d gotten some sort of video thing posted by Facebook notifying me that Amanda and I have been friends for 9 years. In actuality, it’s been a bit longer than that – I’ve known her since September of 2003 when I met her in person at the Friends of Mine convention in New Orleans – but the sentiment was nice, all the same. It looked like quite a few of my friends had gotten similar notifications with other people on that same day. One of them caught my eye because the other person (not my friend, but the person she was friends with) had passed away quite a few years ago.
It’s become sort of common for family members to decide to leave Facebook accounts up for people who have passed on. My friend Laurie’s family has done that, and while I make it a point NOT to visit her page (Though I’ve tried over the years, I just can’t yet. The pain is far too great.), many of my sorority sisters still visit and I know the page provides comfort to Laurie’s mom, in particular. This person’s family must have decided to do something similar. Out of curiosity, I clicked on her page because my friend had noted she met her because of Duran Duran. I found something remarkable and wonderful as a result.
This person was a Duranie and she was apparently well-known and loved, even though I myself have no recollection of her (I’m a west coast Duranie who had mostly kept to herself until this blog came about!) Over the years since her passing, many of her friends continue to visit her page, leaving photos commemorating their memories of her. It turns out that my friend had known this person for 30 years, as a result of being Duranies. The notes were sometimes poignant, sad, and yet there was definitely a silver lining to all of it.
This one band brought these people together, and to this day, this one person had given all of her friends and the people she had touched with her life a remarkable gift of something to remember her by. Everywhere on the page there were pictures of hearts posted by her friends. Naturally occurring hearts, made from the shapes of leaves, clouds, shadows, light, and love. I had never seen friendship look quite so beautiful. Friendship that began (in many cases) over the bonding that happens when you’re fans of the same band.
I hear about that sort of thing every once in a while, but it still makes me take pause every single time. There are people, very VERY lucky people I might add, who have met people in this fandom and have been friends with them since childhood. Here we are, now in the throes of whatever “middle-age” might be, and some can still say they have childhood friends that continue to love this band and go to shows with them. It blows my mind. I mean that. Days later and I’m still thinking about how lucky this woman was to have these kinds of friends. It’s funny because in some ways these friendships go against everything I tend to see in this community: the in-fighting, the envy, and the insipid bickering and arguing.
I don’t really know if Duran Duran really understands their impact, and I’m not just talking about musically. They brought so many of us together. I have a difficult time wrapping my head around that, much less writing words about it. These friendships go beyond what the critics said, or whether or not as kids we knew anything about music. One band brought an entire community of kids together from all across the planet, many of us are still here, and a lot of us know one another and count each other as friends and family. That’s the real gift for fans. Sure, the music is great and will last forever, but nothing will last longer than my memories of the friendships I’ve made along the way. Not everybody gets that. Some people only have the music – and while that’s a huge, enormous thing on its own, those of us who are really entrenched in the fan community have so much more. We have friendship. For me, those relationships are kind of the bonus silver lining in all of this, and I hope those of you reading can say the same.
I don’t really think about my own mortality much – it’s a pretty depressing thought. I will say this though: I will consider mine a life well-lived if one day I have the kinds of friends that this Duranie had, who continue to have her memory so readily available in their minds – and their love for her so palatable that they continue to spread that love well after her passing.
It would have been easy for me to have scrolled right past that little note in my news feed that day. After all, it was none of my business – even though my friend had shared it (which is why I saw it) and in some ways I did feel like I was eavesdropping when I looked at this person’s page. That said, it touched me, and I’m glad I did. I’m still thinking about the love I saw that day. Duranies aren’t an easy bunch. We can be petty, jealous, vindictive and WAY competitive. But sometimes, the friendships and love speak louder than anything else, and take my breath away.