"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away."
Well, I had the wind knocked out of me yesterday.
In 1984-85 I was a freshman in high school. I have recollections of riding a school bus a long distance to participate in some activity (I think it was for band). Along the way there or on the ride back home we stopped at a convenience store. While inside I was elated to find a magazine devoted solely to my favorite singer at the time, Bruce.
You remember Bruce in 1984! Born in the USA was at the top of the charts. His Levi-clad butt was on the wall of many love-struck teenage girls in that poster--including mine. (You know what I'm talking about! I still love Levis!) He danced with Courtney Cox in his Dancing in the Dark video making us all so jealous.
I read that magazine from cover to cover on that bus ride. But part of what made it exciting was that I had a good friend that loved Bruce even more than I did. It was fun to share it with him and talk about all of the stories and pictures. He was an expert on "the Boss" and knew much more about the man than I would ever take the time to learn.
When we got back to the school, it was a mad house. I recall placing all of my things together and leaving them (I think it was to call my parents for a ride home. No cell phones back then!) but when I came back the magazine was gone. I was heart-broken. I remember looking for it and thinking that it might have been stolen. But, it was also windy that day so I realized that it could've just blown away. I was furious...and sad.
It's funny that over the years I have thought about this magazine and wished I still had it. It seemed magical to me for some reason--probably because of the enjoyment it gave me in that very short time that I had it.
But time goes on. I still love the Born in the USA album, though now I listen to it on CD. My 13-year old daughter even recently borrowed it from me to upload to her iPod. (It was a proud moment!) Bruce has went on to make several more songs that I enjoy and he holds a very special place in my heart.
I've enjoyed connecting with new and old friends on MySpace and FaceBook. I love technology so I'm pretty darn accessible--virtually speaking. Recently one of my friends, a classmate from high school, asked me to list my top ten songs by Bruce Springsteen. This was a harder task than I thought it would be. I found myself opening my laptop to listen to many of the tunes as I made the decisions. We then had a good time comparing our lists.
We realized as we exchanged comments, news, jokes, and pictures that he occasionally comes to my city for work-related meetings. I insisted that we have lunch sometime when he is here for the day. He agreed to join me--as long as he could buy. Well, yesterday was the day.
I chose a Mexican food place that I like and gave him directions. As I got out of my vehicle, I saw him right away. He hadn't changed much at all--a little older and wiser, I suppose. But he still had the ornery grin I remembered! I gave him a hug and we entered the restaurant to enjoy an hour of catching up.
Both of us were thrilled to report that we had exceptional children and incredible spouses. Life was good, though it had it challenges. Our careers had evolved, our parents and siblings had gotten older, and our faith in God had deepened. I thoroughly enjoyed myself as I listened to his stories and shared my own. The hour went way too fast.
When it was time to go, I followed him up to the counter to tell him "Goodbye" but he surprised me when he said, "Hold on. I have something to give you." Hmmmm... We walked outside and I had to give him another hug. It was just so darn good to see him and realize what a good man he had turned out to be. He reached into the passenger side of the car and pulled out a manilla envelope. As he handed it to me, he said, "Don't open it until I'm gone."
True to my word, I didn't. But as I drove back to work I opened it up and reached in to pull out (you guessed it) that magazine! I laughed right out loud. He was the one that I had shared my excitement with on the bus that day. He was probably the one, also, who had to listen to my disappointment the most when I realized that it was gone forever.
As I read the heart-felt letter that he included with the magazine, I realized that this silly little theft of a magazine when he was a KID had hurt him way more than it ever hurt me. To him it symbolized his own lack of character. I wasn't the only one that had thought about this magazine over the years, it had eaten at him. My laughter quickly turned to tears. It was a crazy mix of emotions for me as I thought about the impact of this small, senseless act.
It's funny to think about the moments in our life that we remember to define ourselves. It's awesome when we get that little window of opportunity to make up for the mistakes of our past. I'm glad that he jumped through that little window. I'm so glad that I was the one on the other side.
If you're reading, thank you so much for the magazine. It means way more to me now than it ever did (or would've) back then.
Maybe you'll be out there on that road somewhere
In some bus or train traveling along
In some motel room there'll be a radio playing
And you'll hear me sing this song.
Well if you do you'll know I'm thinking of you
and all the miles in between
And I'm just calling one last time not to change your mind
But just to say, "I miss you, baby. Good luck. Goodbye, Bobby Jean."
--Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA, "Bobby Jean"