I Hope You Find Your Morrissey
Text by Liz Walker
In preparation for a trip to England last January, I dutifully recorded my travel plans in a small notebook. I wrote perhaps the most import piece of information on the cover: a Douglas Adams-inspired “Don't Panic!” An important reminder because I really was panicked - panicked that, despite all my planning, I was still ill-prepared. Panicked to be traveling by myself. Panicked that I would miss a train somewhere and ruin the whole damn thing. It was silly, sure, but I couldn't help it. But the panic isn't the important part. The important part is that I went anyway.
I was off to England to visit an old friend in London. However, unlike me, she is a busy and important person and couldn't miss work. In a way, this was good news, as it would give me some time to travel on my own. By nature, I am an obsessive person. And for the last couple years, my too-intense interest has been focused on England and on music, but mostly on Morrissey. Yes, the singer/lyricist, the former frontman of The Smiths, the continuously controversial figure who is probably known best for declaring meat to be murder and crooning about misery. This meant that a trip to England required a trip to Manchester, his hometown, where I could take a special tour. It would also allow for the much more random day trips to Liverpool (where I wanted to see a statue of rock 'n roll icon Billy Fury) and Sheffield (simply because that's where the band Pulp is from). These are kind of crazy notions. But they were my crazy notions; they belonged to me and no one could take them away.
In further preparation for the trip, I purchased an extremely average black rain coat and a pair of bargain basement faux Doc Martens. (I was going to Manchester. It would rain.) The coat was on clearance and basically free, but still it pained me to buy something so boring, so practical. Yet now, whenever I zip it up, or look down at my feet in those cheap black boots, I feel centered, surprisingly at peace. The person who wore those things is a person I like. Those are the feet that traveled alone. They are the feet that, in fact, didn't miss any trains; feet that finally walked along the cobblestones of places I longed to visit. They are a symbol of an achievement, an important instance when I listened to myself and did as I wanted.
Clearly, it would be hard to overemphasize how much that trip to England meant, and continues to mean, to me. That excursion encouraged me to be bolder, to take risks, to be less intimidated by people. It pushed me and lead to growth. It encouraged me to like myself a little more. I am better for it.
When you are at your most certain, what is it that you want? It can be a hard thing to get in touch with. I've learned that I'm happier loving Morrissey too much. Surprise, surprise - I'm happier when I quit telling myself to be someone different. I'm writing in support of obsession I suppose; to argue that there is indeed value in (to paraphrase a quote misattributed to Franz Kafka) following your most intense obsessions mercilessly. But that's not the big picture. What I want to say most of all is this: I hope you find your Morrissey. Your talisman, your reminder to be true to yourself against all odds. Your invitation to try new things, to travel to new places, to befriend fabulous new people. I hope you find comfort and inspiration on dark days. We all need both sources of excitement and opportunities to feel understood. For me, Morrissey has been a key that opens many doors and that's what I want for you, for everyone.
For you, maybe that means becoming a fashion designer or starting a roller derby team or breeding snakes in your basement. There's something for everyone, I'm sure, but passions can be hard to embrace. Maybe it feels selfish or unimportant or just plain silly, but I don't think so. I think those strange sources of joy give us strength, encourage us to be the people we really are. Inspiration can take you to surprising places. I hope you can listen to yourself and be supportive of what you hear. I hope you can overcome your negative thoughts and triumph over your fears. I hope you find what you're looking for.