I have a confession to make. This is especially being posted for any of my friends of all ages who are still struggling with addiction and alcoholism.
When I was 17 years old, my boyfriend bought us tickets to see my idol, Bruce Springsteen. It was amazing. I couldn’t believe we were going. It was absolutely the most exciting thing that had ever happened in my life, even more exciting than my first horseback riding lesson, or my first blue ribbon, or anything. It would only be my second rock and roll concert and it was going to be the amazing, incredible, inspiring Bruce at Madison Square Garden.
The day finally came. We boarded the train in Katonah, NY in the afternoon. Being the partier that I was, we had to have something to drink. So David (who was over 18) got us a box of wine at the liquor store by the train station. A BOX. We started drinking as soon as we sat down on the train. The ride was about an hour long. We would have landed in the city right near the Garden. Should have been easy peasy. But…I don’t know what happened. I have no idea. Because we both drank so much wine on the train that we blacked out.
I have a vague memory of stumbling down a street in NYC, with our arms around each other. The next thing that I knew, we were walking down the train tracks somewhere north of White Plains. We still had our Bruce tickets. We had never gotten to the show. Somehow we got back on the train headed north, but we had missed the last train that continued all the way to Katonah. I don’t remember how we got home. It was the worst thing in my life, when I realized that I had missed Bruce. It went from the best thing in my life, to the worst thing in my life. In a moment. Miserable, wasted, still drunk, coming out of a blackout, throwing up on the train tracks, yelling at David – I wanted to die.
It took me another 15 years or so to fully admit that I was powerless over alcohol. That’s the sign of a true alcoholic.
But the saddest part of the entire story, for me, is what I just realized today as I told all of this to my Bruce bud, Britt Nelson. It took 27 years for me to finally go to see Bruce (Oakland Coliseum, 2007). And another 6 years after that before I really let myself reconnect completely to how important he was to me.
In recent years (as most of you know), I have returned full force to my love for Bruce. But it has been a bittersweet journey for me because I’ve realized how much I missed. Bruce has been totally amazing all these years, but I just wrote him off when Born in the USA came out. It’s only this year, during tour, that I really came to see that BITUSA is actually an incredible album. Now, four of my favorite Springsteen songs are on that album (My Hometown, No Surrender, Downbound Train, Darlington County). And as I’ve toured around, meeting people who had been following him for decades, I’ve mourned all that I missed. I’ve asked myself why I turned away from him.
Today I realized that the day I missed Bruce when I was 17 years old because I drank too much was more than a bad drunkalog story. It was a pivotal moment in my life. If I had made it to that concert, the experience of seeing him live would almost certainly have been a life changer. I would have kept seeing him. I would have given Born in the USA all the extra time it needed for me to come to see it’s wonderfulness. I would have kept listening to and buying each of his albums, instead of catching up in 2014. I would have seen him live on each tour. I would not have missed the Seeger Sessions, or Devils and Dust. I would have heard him sing This Land is Your Land live. I would have heard Tracks and Human Touch and Lucky Town when they came out. I would have followed his life and his work and his gifts. I would not have missed more than half his career.
I am grateful beyond measure that something brought me back to Bruce in time to see all these shows, in time to catch up while he (and I) are still in concert condition. But I regret so much all the time and adventures that my drinking stole from me.
If you are drinking or drugging or otherwise letting an addiction keep you from what you love, please…stop. Get the help you need. Reach out. Don’t wait. Admit you have a problem and let yourself find the solution. It’s out there. I promise.