by Judy Merrill Larsen
Not often, but every once in a while, I want to feel 17 again. Not the angsty, high school, I-hate-my-hair, I'm-not-sure-what-to-wear girl I was so much of the time back then. No, I want to feel limitless possibility. Wonder. Freedom. Confidence (or was it stupidity?) that had my friends and me wearing t-shirts that said "Go to Hell World, I'm a Senior." I want to feel like I'm born to run.
Those days are 35 years, two kids, a few (ahem) pounds, and lots of bad haircuts in my past. But occasionally, every once upon a time, I get to grab that 17 year-old inside and let her out for a ride. "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" always takes me there. I dare you to watch this and not bop around in your chair.
And Saturday night, I got to feel 17 again for three hours all thanks to The Boss. It was great (and I'm still recovering). I danced and sang and cheered and raised my fist high because tramps like us were just around the corner from the light of day and we were out on the streets (oh oh oh oh oh!) in the promised land.
And much later, when I was still singing along in my head and I couldn't get to sleep because I was still soaring, I thought how Bruce and I grew up together. And how we're both writers.
He gave me the anthems I needed when I was young and figuring out how to be an adult:
"Hey what else can we do now
Except roll down the window
And let the wind blow back your hair
Well the night's busting open
These two lanes will take us anywhere"
Thunder Road is just about the most perfect song ever written.
And then, when I was an adult and was finding it a bit harder to navigate than I'd thought, I knew he understood:
"Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse?"
"God have mercy on the man
Who doubts what he's sure of"
And then, we both gained a few more years, and some perspective (and found the keeper spouse the second time around):
"Tonight I'm drinkin' in the forgiveness
This life provides
The scars we carry remain but the pain slips away it seems
Oh won't you baby be in my book of dreams"
He was a voice of loss and sorrow after 9/11:
"Pictures on the nightstand, TV's on in the den
Your house is waiting, your house is waiting
For you to walk in, for you to walk in
But you're missing, you're missing
You're missing when I shut out the lights
You're missing when I close my eyes
You're missing when I see the sun rise
And, in his title song, The Rising, he also gave us a sense of pride and hope.
And today? He's still writing the words that are on so many of our hearts:
"Now sometimes tomorrow comes soaked in treasure and blood
We stood the drought, now we'll stand the flood
There's a new world coming, I can see the light
I'm a jack of all trades, we'll be alright."
"We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag's flown
We take care of our own."
He's been a fine companion all these years--and an even finer writer. I can only strive to make my words resonate as well.
Oh, and he still looks totally hot in jeans.
I live in St. Louis, MO with my husband, am the mom/stepmom to five kids (ages 19-27), and taught high school English for 15 years. I'm over on Facebook. My first novel, ALL THE NUMBERS was published in 2006.