I never followed a well-known person’s life and doings until I started reading Neil Gaiman’s blog in college. I read it because I love his work almost uniformly, and I liked his bits about bee-keeping and cats and the right apples for pies.
Later there was Twitter, and I found out about Amanda Palmer, and I heard her song that I think of as “The Truth,” the one that begins “When I was six years old, my sister Alison…” It hit home, blowjobs and all. I heard it exactly when I needed it, and I took it for all it was worth.
And so now I follow these two on the Internet, and I go to their shows sometimes, but I’m afraid of meeting them. Especially Neil, who’s work has been shaping bits of me so long. What if he doesn’t like me? It’s the sort of incredibly unlikely risk that I’m still unwilling to take.
Or maybe I just don’t feel the need to meet them, because I know I’ll see them soon, when I’m asleep. I dream about one or the other of them maybe once a week, give or take.
Sometimes I talk to them. Sometimes not. Last night Amanda and I hugged and cried together, because my aunt is dying, because she inspired me to learn ukulele. She walked over the backs of concert hall seats to get to me.
Often I glimpse them at dream parties. Once Dream Neil said something inspiring and cryptic to me in a strange gathering full of rooms and doors, then fell asleep in a chair. Which I understand is something Waking Neil does at parties, too.
Other times they’re more surreal. Dream Neil sold me fruit once. I think I’ve seen Amanda fly.
I’m grateful because they go ahead of me. They remind me of important stuff, like Ask Questions and Make Good Art and Nothing’s Ever Lost Forever and It’s Ok To Believe In Contradictions.
I’m grateful because I will watch them get old.
Life is scary as well as exciting, and getting old is one of the scariest bits. To me, one of the exciting bits too. I hope to enjoy and thrive in every stage of life. It’s a big hope.
Maybe they’ll retire from public life. Maybe Amanda will stop sharing her joys and sorrows and fears and pains and victories with us, but I really don’t think so.
I think she’ll be a magnificent old lady, and Neil will be an exceptional old gent. And I am ten-ish and twenty-ish years younger, and I’ll get to follow along.
Amanda and Neil and the Internet are providing me with a rubric for living out loud and in love. I am comforted to think that they will also provide me with an example of aging out loud, and in love.
And I am comforted by the things that they say to me in my dreams, which I do not remember, but are, I’m sure, important nonetheless.
Thank you, Waking and Dreaming Neil, Waking and Dreaming Amanda. Than you all.