Dancing in the Dark

Bruce Springsteen's mother and I really need to talk

Photograph by Redferns

I dumped Paul when Bruce came along.

Although the cute Beatle was my first love, he simply faded into the background the moment I heard "Born to Run." Paul was adorable but Bruce was, well, The Boss. He was scruffy and raw and full of passion. While Paul had that sweet little head shake going on, Bruce put it all out there. He exuded a sexual energy that took my breath away and when he sang, "Wendy, let me in," I was ready to change my name.

So I gave my blessing to my former nemesis, Linda McCartney, and replaced the posters on my walls. I wrote the lyrics to "Thunder Road"—a song I still consider one of the best of all time—all over my notebooks and am convinced I ended up moving to San Diego because of the "pretty little place in Southern California" Bruce sings about in "Rosalita."

My love affair with Springsteen began before I met my husband and it's still going strong after 35 years of marriage. I like to keep up with what Bruce is doing so, the other day, when someone on Facebook posted a video of his performance of "Dancing in the Dark" in London, I immediately clicked on it.

"Dancing in the Dark" has always been one of my favorites, and I've spent many hours fantasizing about being the girl Bruce pulls up on stage to dance with him. In fact, I think the real reason I never became a fan of "Friends" is because I couldn't get over my jealousy of Courteney Cox for being that girl in the official video.

Anyway, I was grooving along with the E Street Band when, around the four-minute mark, Bruce sees his mom standing backstage. He grins, walks over to her, takes her hand and escorts her to center stage for a dance. The crowd goes wild, but here's where my mind goes:

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"Oh, she must be so proud of her son. How cool would that be if one of my kids invited me to dance with them in front of thousands of people? I would be so touched if they wanted to show me off in public. I hope I get to share a big moment like that with Alex and Sara one day."

I started traveling down memory lane, smiling to myself as I reminisced about the Dave Matthews concert my son had taken me to and the Lilith Fair I had experienced with my daughter. And then I gasped. Why was I relating to Bruce Springsteen's mother???

It seemed my life had zoomed right past the "Can't start a fire without a spark" chorus into a whole new "You sit around getting older/There's a joke here somewhere and it's on me" (uni)verse. WTF?! I'm not Bruce Springsteen's mother!

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Hey, it wasn't that long ago that my husband's poem, "Tonight My Wife Fucks Bruce Springsteen," was published in a literary magazine. Sadly, it was fictional but still. So why am I now seeing The Boss through a mother's eyes?

I've spent days trying to come to terms with this. Yesterday, I went to see "Maggie's Plan"—a movie about a young woman trying to take control of her destiny—and guess what song just happened to be featured on the soundtrack? "Dancing in the Dark"! What was the universe trying to tell me?

After a lot of soul searching and a call to my doctor to check my hormone levels, I've come to a sobering realization. It's that, ultimately, time is the real Boss, and the hands on the clock aren't the only things shifting.

At 57, my priorities have changed. At this stage of my life, "I'm on Fire" has taken on a whole new meaning and I think longingly of my young "Hungry Heart." But the good news is I no longer need to take a train to the "Land of Hope and Dreams." Because I understand that I'm already living there.

The truth is, as exciting as it would be to have Bruce invite me on stage, I'm content simply to be welcomed into the lives of my grown kids and into the arms of the man with whom I'm lucky to share my life.

As I get older, I'm more aware than ever of the message of "Born to Run," that "We've got one last chance to make it real." So, although I can happily dream about the guitar-toting guys who provided the soundtrack for my formative years, I know that my reality is so much better.

Paul may have been my yesterday and Bruce, my glory days, but my husband, Michael? He's my always.

Even if we're just dancing in the dark.

Tags: agingmusic