Did you miss me? I haven’t blogged in a couple of months with good reason, but I won’t go into that now. My weekend has pulled me back into blogging so that I get most of the details down before I forget them. But then I’ll go back to finishing my course work and case study so I can finally close the curtain on a 4 year circus called, M.Ed.
I posted a few cryptic check-ins, and some of my friends knew where I was going. Steve and I were invited to join our good friends Andy and Monica Babiuk at a Bruce Springsteen concert in Rochester, NY.
Last November, I was able to secure funding to bring an old pal from our Rochester days to Lehigh’s campus to share the story of his books, entrepreneurial successes and life as a rock star. Andy Babiuk. I’m in awe of what he’s been able to accomplish. Not only because he’s a brilliant musician and a disciplined researcher, but he’s also incredibly generous and kind. He might roll his eyes at me calling him a researcher because it sounds so academic. His research is beyond how I think of “academic research.” He’s not about proving anything to anyone else but himself. I love that. Because it’s just that foundational. Oh, and Monica? She’s brilliant in her own right. There are more than a few times when I’m challenged by life and I wonder, “What would Monica do?” I know she wouldn’t allow any B.S. So when I realize what I’m dealing with is just that, I channel her energy. Both incredible human beings.
A month after Andy’s lecture, Bruce Springsteen announced his tour. I wrote to him to see if he would be in town for the Rochester show. Steve and I would get tickets if he would be. All he said then was, “I’ll see if Steven is touring with him.”
Two weeks before the show, Andy texted Steve that we were going to the show, and to get to Rochester by the afternoon in case we are able to go to the sound check.
Two weeks is a really long time.
The kids wanted to stay home so they wouldn’t miss rehearsal. Thank goodness for our incredibly generous friend, Todd who helped out and made sure they didn’t die or burn down the house. We need to replace a pair of pants the dog destroyed. We all love Todd.
We get to Rochester, check into the hotel and try to act cool when Andy and Monica pick us up. We went to the back stage entrance; Andy in the lead, Monica looking gorgeous as always.
Andy connects with Paul, who then brings us to the dressing room area under the stage of the Blue Cross Arena (formerly War Memorial). We connect with Steven Van Zandt, who’s been working with Andy on a few projects too cool to rabbit hole here. Andy and Monica introduce Stephen and me. We shake hands; trying to remain calm and cool like this happens every day.
Geez, I’ve met enough artists throughout my career, you’d think I’d get over this. But it’s all just a little surreal.
Somehow we end up in the dinner area. The venue has it set up really nicely: about fifteen 10-foot rounds with a tasty buffet dinner. We settle around a table in the back corner. Crew and musicians are coming in and out of the room. Sound check is over and there’s about two hours before the show starts.
For the next 90 minutes, we eat and have a great conversation about touring, music, audiences, goal setting, acting, television shows, stuff. Steven is warm, funny, wise, and generous. I finally stop feeling nervous and out of place and ask him questions about his work and his opinions on music and touring. We meet Max Weinberg, Nils Lofgren, and Jake Clemons was there.
A few times I thought about pulling out my phone to take a picture. It would have ruined the moment. We’ve had our picture taken with him before. We didn’t really need another one. This was a real conversation; one in which I know I’ll be thinking about for years to come.
Andy had a few copies of his Revised Beatles Gear book to give Max and another musician. We weren’t able to connect with him, so Steven promised to deliver it.
Steven had to meet some folks who made contributions to his Rock and Roll Foundation. We tagged along for that, and then we said our goodbyes.
We didn’t have to go back to the lobby to get to our seats. Just had to walk backstage, pass a few sound boards and the guitar tech areas. Holy. Spit! Second row, stage left. I took a couple of pictures, but then put put it away in order to be able to dance freely and scream, and pump my hands into the air, and sing, and just be in the moment.
Springsteen shows are typically 3 and a half hours straight of “heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking, Viagra-taking, love-making” energy that takes you to the place you were in your life when you first heard the songs.
There is one Springsteen song that just gets me every time I hear it. When I was pregnant, Stephen and I decided we needed a “safe” car. We ended up buying a brand new Volvo station wagon that we really couldn’t afford but had to have to be good parents. After I figured out how where to adjust the steering wheel over my basketball belly, I turned on the radio to drive the new car home. “Born to Run” came on. It hit me hard. My life was about to forever change. This was way more than the slight panic attack I had the day before I got married. There is no reset button for parenting. I realized I was about to make a lot of mistakes, and I could easily screw up two souls that were unlucky in picking me to be their mom.
Born to Run started off the encores. Yes, I was crying. I’m in a great place in my life. We have wonderful friends, great kids, good jobs, we live in a great city, and we still like doing fun things together.
Going back to Rochester to visit friends we made 20 years ago; driving through streets that had shadows of memory; having breakfast the next morning with another gorgeous friend from our Bowling Green days, Andrea; chatting about the night with SVZ and catching up on each other’s lives…
An easy drive home during which we played more Bruce.
…baby we were born to run….