GUEST POST- Searching for Michael Jackson by Rachel

After having read mjfangirl’s post (about how to see 5 Michael Jackson related places in LA), I was inspired. As a longtime Michael Jackson fan and not having seen him perform live (which I don’t love to remind myself) I decided to take her advice and go on a road trip to seek out some magical Michael Jackson energy.




I had already committed to a San Diego trip for Easter weekend and would take advantage of my time on the road to accomplish my MJ fangirling. I wanted to take my time and enjoy the trip so I chose to camp in San Luis Obispo to split up the drive. I gathered the necessary supplies including my favorite Michael Jackson t-shirt, sunflowers, his music and everything needed to make a poster to honor the King. 

After a four and a half hour drive, camping at a hot spring “resort” and waking up freezing my bum off, it was time to head to Neverland. I was full of adrenaline, excitement and wonder. I packed up my car, dusted off my pants and put on the HIStory album as I began to ease on down the road ;)

The drive down the California coast is absolutely beautiful and the drive into Neverland is no different. The sun was shining, the roads were clear and the scenery was green and vast. I started getting nervous about 20 minutes away, especially once I exited the freeway…I was shaking a bit and literally kept reminding myself that I would not actually be meeting Michael or even getting through the gates for that matter. I soaked up the peaceful small town roads and lands. There were barns, ranches and small wineries scattered among the rolling hills and sprawling Oak trees, trees not unlike Michael’s famous Giving Tree.



When I saw the Neverland entrance, my heart started pounding. I pulled right into the small driveway area and parked in front of a few construction cones. I was about to set up camp because I planned on staying awhile. I opened my door, left my car on and turned up the volume on Stranger in Moscow…hearing his voice while being there just felt right. The first thing I noticed was a low brick wall leading up to the lower gates. There was a brick pillar adorned with a lantern, all whimsy and storybook. As I grew nearer, I realized that every imaginable space was covered in handwritten messages from fans around the world, it is astonishing to see in person. There is writing on almost every piece of brick at that entrance, on the lanterns, the rocks, there are old paper notes, tin hearts, lockets, and dried sunflowers, so lovely. My heart and soul were smiling as I became lost in my own world. I was arranging the sunflowers next to the lantern and singing softly.



I barely noticed the Security Guard as he approached. I thought he was going to ask me to leave for some reason, But nope, he introduced himself and asked politely that I move my car to the side, closer to the fence that Michael Jackson must have touched a thousand times! He moved the cones for me and said I could stay all day if I wanted. Sweet. His radio sounded, he smiled at me, said he would be back to chat with me later. He answered “Sycamore Valley Ranch?” I cringed as he retreated back up to the security cottage, which I swear is straight out of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs…



I made my tribute poster, full on with 3D amusement park stickers, Disney stickers and of course Michael photos. I even found rhinestoned MJ letters, reminiscent of his famous glove. Once I was happy with it, I propped it up against the pillar and admired my work.



Next, I took time to read fan messages from ALL OVER THE WORLD – China, Brazil, Australia, Peru, Mexico, and many European countries. The notes all read something like, “Dear Michael, we love you! Thank you for teaching us that we can do anything, thank you for changing the world. Forever in our hearts. Long live the King of Pop!” The energy was palpable. The place (and I am only at the entrance) is filled with so much love and beauty, I could not only feel him there but I could feel all the love from every fan who had every stepped foot at Neverland.

As I am geeking out, videotaping and singing, the security guard came back down to chat, he introduced me to the two dogs who hang out on the property. I pet them and played fetch with them, very sweet pups. Because I could not help it, I asked the guard how I could get on property and what would happen if I climbed the tiny fence and ran. He pointed out the camera, said that if I ran as fast as I could, that I might make it halfway to the house before being caught. He said the police would be called and it wouldn’t be worth it or end pretty. I KNOW, ugh! I asked about a million questions…I can’t remember everything but he did say he wasn’t an MJ fan, yes he worked there before ’09, no – he never met Michael. No, there isn’t stationary left – or anything that has anything to do with Michael anywhere on property anymore. Sad face!

I heard a rumbling and looked up to see a Jeep driving in from beyond the hill, up near the house (lucky!)…so close, yet so far. A guy gets out and meanders over to us, a little serious looking and asks if the other guard needs help. I say, “Hey, I’m not causing THAT much trouble, geez” and we chuckle. He comes down to the rickety wooden fence and introduces himself, he’s got an accent so I ask where he’s from – he’s Czech and I’ve been to Prague so I talk to him about that. Then he told me that he saw me playing guitar and asked me to play for them, so I did. I played what I know of Earth Song and Give In to Me and a few other tunes. It was fun, they applauded and pretended to be impressed :).



They were both extremely kind. The guard I had just met went up to the house to get me a water and grabbed a couple green serpentine rocks for me. Neverland ENERGY! They are stunning…as green as emeralds. I was beyond excited to take away a small piece of Michael’s sacred space. We all hung out and chatted for a while, listening to Michael. We talked a lot about him and about what the property should be. A museum to pay homage to the world’s greatest entertainer, a space for sick and underprivileged children, a place for the fans to experience him, after all he did say “Neverland is me.” Instead, it’s sat empty for the past, what…twelve years? It should be restored, they agreed, possibly politely. They told me that they sat in Michael’s Giving Tree and I lost it, I started crying uncontrollably. Just knowing how many beautiful songs he’d written in that tree, how much he loved it, the fact that it was less than a mile from me and I couldn’t do the same, the fact that there would be no more beautiful songs written there, that the fan community could not experience it. It all just came crashing down on me. The guys were sweet, they could see how affected I was. I said that we all deserve to feel his energy and I truly think that’s what he would have wanted, but of course, who can truly know? My hope is that Michael's children will somehow acquire the property someday.



We said our goodbyes, hugs all around. I touched everything again and promised to be back. I drove away feeling good. I felt him there, in the wind, in the trees, in the rocks, the grass, the cottage and lanterns. He was there, everywhere. I switched over to Invincible as I drove away through the serene countryside. I was filled with Michael’s light and energy. 

Fast-forward a few days, after my trip to San Diego and on my way back up north I stopped in Los Angeles. An old friend kindly offered to drive me around for the day to a few different Michael Jackson related locations, ones I had read about on this blog. Our first stop was the Thriller house, this is the house where Michael says “I’m not like other guys” and then turns into a werewolf…


Ola Ray’s character runs into the house terrified. 



As you can see, we went on a beautiful sunny day so the feel was quite different. The house itself appears unoccupied and somewhat dilapidated. Honestly, it looks no different than it did in 1983. It’s actually a historic street in Echo Park lined with Victorian houses, it’s beautiful and quite charming. I got all the feels taking photos doing my best Thriller poses and playing the song in front of the house.

video


Our next stop was the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I expected it to be less crowded on a Thursday afternoon but it was jammin. There was music coming from some production stage and a lot of people taking photos. I am happy to say that there was a line at our Michael’s Star. I took photos and stood in his magical moonwalking, dancing shoes. You can absolutely tell that his footprints were made with those famous black loafers. There are two different sets of handprints from different eras (possible Jackson 5 era, as one set is very small) as well as a gloved print! Naturally I touched everything, stood in his shoes and took a lot of photos.




Our final stop of the day was the Encino Family compound on Hayvenhurst. This is the house that Joseph bought after they had been in LA for a bit in the early 70’s, Michael bought and revamped it in the late 70’s, creating a music and dance studio where he recorded some of his songs and rehearsed for the famous Motown 25 show. There is not really much to see there except the gates and security cameras. I believe Paris lives there now so I blew kisses to the cameras (probably to security guards! Ha!) and took a quick photo in front of the gates. 


I am sure that place holds a lot of magic, I’d love to see it. Paris, let’s be friends? :)


I did not visit Gardner Street Elementary, but instead went to the Carollwood Mansion. It was a bittersweet way to end this tour but I wanted to see it. It’s tucked away in the elite Holmby Hills neighborhood in Hollywood. The home is on a small quiet street corner.


In the picture above, the second gated entrance is on the right.  It’s actually quite peaceful and extremely serene. I got out and walked around a bit, took some photos and played his music. I said prayers and cried. I also wrote an Instagram post from there dedicated to him and all the fans around the world. I chose to use lyrics from Another Part of Me

“We're sendin' out a major love
And this is my message to you
The planets are linin' up
We're bringin' brighter days
They're all in line
Waitin' for you, Can't you see?
You're just another part of me”



As much as I wish he was still here, and things were different – I carry his message of love with me always. I am grateful to have had him in our world. To me, Michael was an Angel, almost too good for this Earth, for this is no place for Angels…but I am extremely grateful that he had the courage to try. I thank him every day for the lessons he shared with us, about how to be a better person, stronger, more humble, giving and courageous.

As I drove away, thinking about his contribution to our planet on a worldwide level, I felt at peace. I could do nothing but smile at the beauty that surrounded me as I wound down the twists and turns of Mulholland Drive. After all, “A star can never die. It just turns into a smile and melts back into the cosmic music, the dance of life.” (by Michael Jackson from Dancing the Dream.)

So I looked up to see the sun shining, the hills green, the sky blue and I hoped that maybe, just maybe Michael was looking down on me and feeling proud.  


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You can follow Rachel on her Michael Jackson fan account on Instagram @MJMoonChild or leave her comments right here on the post!  


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