Friday, August 3, 2012

Ten Years After

The older I get the faster time goes.  I know not what word correctly describes something that moves even faster than simply "flying" but I have lived long enough that I have entered that phase of my life. 

I had forgotten - until I read about it on-line in a couple of different places this week and last - that it was ten years ago this Monday past (July 30) that Springsteen's "The Rising" CD was released.  It was the first record he had recorded with the E Street Band since "Born in the USA" almost two decades earlier.   It was of course "his post 09/11" record and thematically there are any number of songs that still evoke vivid memories of that day and the events that followed in its immediate aftermath. 

The discussion of the large-scale implications of what it all meant a decade ago is best left to those significantly smarter than I (in case you wondered what that apparently endless line of people wrapped twice around the block was for - American Idol is not holding auditions today).  It is best left to those such as Stan Goldstein.  A week or so ago a nice piece Stan wrote - replete with his recollection of performances he was fortunate enough to see and/or to hear in or about Asbury Park - ran in the Star-Ledger.  I recall Margaret recording the July 30, 2002 Today Show so that we (her, the kids and I) could watch the band's performance when we all got home at day's end.  I recall the four of us laughing loudly when our then-Governor and his then-First Lady were interviewed on the beach and in response to being asked to name his favorite Springsteen song, Jimmy McG blurted out, "Jersey Girl - of course!"  And you think it has been a long decade in your house; eh?  

While "The Rising" is not close to being my favorite Springsteen album - it contains a few songs that I disliked from the first listen (such as "Skin to Skin") - it does contain a number of songs that I enjoy a great deal.  In large part I presume my appreciation for so much of that record stems from the fact that I associate it with great, personal memories such as "The Summer of Bruce", which was the Summer of '03.  Springsteen and the E Street Band played ten shows at Giants Stadium.  Margaret had never been to see him play live and had expressed little interest in ever going to see a show until she went on opening night (July 15) with Lynne.  Halfway through the opening song she had called me at home yelling to be heard over the music and telling me what a great night she was having.  

I ended up at seven of the ten shows at Giants Stadium that summer, including a number of them with Margaret, Lynne and Joe/Lucy Byrnes tailgating and having a grand old time during what we christened as "The Summer of Bruce".  It was at the August 30th show, Rob and I sitting upstairs in stadium's Upper Tier that my son and I got to see them play a set list that included "Trapped" and "Pretty Flamingo".    Two nights earlier, after having moved Suzanne into her freshman dorm at Seton Hall in South Orange I met my old high-school friend Marc Wichansky at Giants Stadium.  Thanks to his generosity, we saw our first show together - he having flown in from Arizona - from about 50 feet in front of Clarence.  That tour was the introduction of "The Pit" at Springsteen shows.  When the rest of the people around us rushed towards the stage, we hung back.  In a crowd of close to 60,000 there was not anyone within fifteen feet of us the entire show.  

When the tour ended on October's first weekend at Shea Stadium,  I made it to two of those final three shows as well.  A whole gaggle of us went in to watch what was christened "The Last Dance" but the night before Rob and I hopped the ferry out of Weehawkin with the Byrneses.  As we stood waiting for our ferry to take us back across the river to the Jersey side after the show, Mr. and Mrs. Springsteen walked right past Rob and Dan Byrnes on their way to their ferry, which was parked in the slip next to ours.  Before their boat pulled out, they appeared on deck and thanked us all for coming to the show.  A pretty cool experience all around. 

I have had ample opportunity within the past decade to share my love of Springsteen music with my bride, my kids and my very good friends.  All of us has been through a lot in the past decade.  There are too many to count who were here with us ten years ago but to whom we have had to bid farewell.  Death has ravaged our family.  I hope it has done less damage to yours.  I hope it continues to minimize its presence in both of ours over the course of next ten years.  

This time ten years ago my hair was hardly gray at all and my kids had not yet finished growing up.  Now?  The gray is plentiful.  The children are scarce.  They are young adults forging their own lives and doing so - for present purposes at least - a time zone or two away from here.  A Jersey boy far more poetic than I once sang of one who had "grown from those seeds you've sown."  Margaret and I have two.  The root system must be pretty strong given the size of their branches and their distance from home.  

You may wonder - as I do - where the time has gone.  And then you look into the eyes of your wife or into your own reflection on the mirror's glass to get your answer.  You realize that it has not in fact passed by you.  It has passed through you.  It has become part of you.  Maybe that is why time seems to move faster as we get older.  The further we travel, the more time becomes a part of us and adds to our person.  

Just one man's thought....from a vantage point ten years (and counting) further on up the road


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