Uma Bode

I just wrote a post about Bruce’s show last night and then…oh, it’s too hard to explain, but basically I accidentally deleted it. So. Let me try again. I’m simultaneously jealous as hell and super happy about the show in Jersey last night. The man (and his band) is (are) super human. Seriously. At almost 67 years old he set and broke longest show records with each of the three shows in this Jersey run over the past week. Last night timed out at 4 hours 1 minute – second longest show of his career and longest USA show. And it’s not just quantity. The setlists of all three shows were pretty phenomenal — last night, however, blew the roof off. And there wasn’t even a roof to start with. He pulled out rarities and oldies and specials and…I mean. WTF. Rather than sink into jealousy and regret along with thousands of other fans, I’m consciously choosing to celebrate instead. And be grateful that I get to see him yet one more time this Saturday in Virginia Beach. It’s unlikely to be a show anywhere close to what he’s done in his home state these past three nights. But anything is always possible at a Bruce show. That’s part of the magic.

SETLIST
1. New York City Serenade (w/strings)
2. Blinded By The Light
3. Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street
4. It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City
5. Spirit In The Night (w/ Rickie Lee Jones)
6. Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran cover, sign request)
7. 4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy) (sign request).
8. KITTY’S BACK (sign request)
9. Incident On 57th Street (sign request)
10. Rosalita
11. PRETTY FLAMINGO (Manfred Mann cover)
12. Atlantic City
13. I’m Goin’ Down
14. Darlington County
15. Working On The Highway
16. Downbound Train
17. I’m On Fire
18. Hungry Heart
19. Out In The Street
20. LIVING PROOF (first performance since 2009, dedicated to his son, Evan)
21. Candy’s Room
22. She’s The One
23. Because The Night
24. The Rising
25. Badlands
———————
26. SECRET GARDEN
27. Jungleland
28. Born To Run
29. Dancing In The Dark
30. 10th Ave. Freeze-Out
31. Twist & Shout (The Top Notes cover)
32. Glory Days
33. Shout (The Isley Brothers cover)
34. Jersey Girl (Tom Waits cover, with fireworks)

 

The impossible happened. I met Bruce.

The entire circumstance of how it happened seems incredibly random and completely perfect. Here’s the story.

I live in Asheville, NC, which is about 9 hours from St. Louis. I had been thinking about adding the Sunday, March 6 show to my itinerary, but I fluctuated a lot. Finally, I woke up Saturday morning and thought, what the hell?! Of course I’m going! So, in a whirlwind, I found a GA ticket on the BTX ticket exchange site, arranged for friends to come stay with my cat, and hit the road.

I lucked out and got in the pit through the wristband lottery. I was not one of the first ones in, but because I was on my own, I managed to get up pretty close. In the line before we got in, I met some great fans, including Scott Williams, the guy who danced with Bruce in Cleveland.

As usual, it was a great show. You might have heard some about it, like the guy, Tom England, who got to go up and play and sing Working on the Highway with Bruce and the E Street Band. Which was REALLY AWESOME! I met some cool folks around me and had a fine time. I’ll have a post with just pics pretty soon, but let’s get on with the important part now.

After the show, I took my time leaving. I had been thinking about maybe trying to hang out where Bruce would be leaving from and catch a glimpse of him as he left. I bought some (yet more) merch (they have these cool fabric patches now) and was literally one of the last people to wander out of the building.

There was a driveway right next to the venue, which I had seen before the show and which seemed likely to be the way in and out for artists. I wandered over and one lone guy was standing there. Who? None other than the infamous and aforementioned Scott Williams. I joined him and he told me he had been down below and that Bruce’s security guy told him to wait at the top of the driveway and that Bruce would be coming out soon. GREAT, I thought. Maybe I will see him!

As we waited and chatted, a family joined us also. Mom, Dad and two daughters. One black SUV came up and as they waited to turn out of the driveway, we saw it was Max in the front passenger seat and Garry in the back. It was confirmed because there was a piece of paper taped to the side of the vehicle that said “MAX and GARRY.” I stepped forward and grabbed it.

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A few minutes went by, and we saw another SUV leave and in that one we caught a glimpse of Bruce’s guitar tech, Kevin.

Another minute or two. And then…the magic started. The security guy directing traffic in front of the driveway into the main street called over to us, “HE’S COMING!” Which alone was pretty cool, right?!

We looked down and saw two more black SUV’s coming up the driveway. The first one passed us by and made a quick turn into the street. We couldn’t see who it was, and they were turned away from the window. But who cared, because the second SUV was pulling up next to us, the passenger window rolled down and Bruce just sitting there with his arm resting on the door, waving to us. The backseat passenger window was also down, and Bruce’s security guy was there.

And now, things get pretty fuzzy for me. What happened next was SOMETHING like this…

He says, “Hi guys. How you doing?”

AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!

OMG!!!!!!!!!

We surge forward, but I hang back behind Scott because he’d been there first, and besides I have always felt (as I’ve written before on this blog) that I’m invisible to Bruce and that even when I’ve been at the front of the stage, I’m not one of the ones he ever notices. So even as this amazing thing is happening and Bruce Springsteen is RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, I’m thinking I’m not going to get to talk to him, he’s going to talk to the other people and then drive off and I’ll be invisible as usual.

So the family talks to him and Bruce sees Scott, and says, “Hey, it’s the dancing man!”

The family does the selfies. Then Scott gives Bruce some gifts he had brought for him (nice job, Scott!) and they do the selfies.

And then I’m holding my breath, is this my moment? I’m restraining myself from lunging at him, wondering what to do, sort of realizing  that I’ve got no idea what the hell to say anyways, and

and

and

Bruce Springsteen looks right at me, reaches out his hand toward me and motions me forward. Are you kidding me? HE SEES ME!

So any kind of self-restraint is over. I ungracefully spring forward, grab his hand and his arm and lean part way into the window and the babbling commences:

Ohmygod Bruce Ihavelovedyou FOREVER

(Bruce: Well thank you)

Ican’tbelieveI’mmeetingyou

(Bruce: You are)

Thank you thank you thank you

(Bruce: You’re welcome)

Can I take a selfie?

(Bruce: Yep)

Fumble fumble with phone, drop my poster tube, Scott picks it up, I’m still babbling:

Bruce, you sound horse, I’m worried about you

(Bruce: Well I really appreciate that)

Bruce, take care of yourself

(Bruce: OK, thank you, I will)

I’m slightly aware that people are smiling at my complete goofiness, possibly even laughing, but it’s absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to regain any composure or presence whatsoever and I’m laughing at myself also.

I get the phone in place and we look at the camera, I’m pretty much out of my body by this time, but I’ve got some awareness that his arm is against my arm, I’m freaking TOUCHING BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. I snap the picture.

And then I say, “Can I kiss you on the cheek?”

Bruce leans the side of his head slightly towards me, motions at his cheek and says, “Yep, there it is, go ahead.”

Seriously. I’m not making this shit up. That is what happened. He said that. I started cracking up, it was SO FUNNY! And SO AWESOME!

So I kissed him on the cheek.

And then he waved to us all, said goodbye, and off they drove.

I started twirling around the grass on the side of the driveway and screaming and shouting OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT JUST HAPPENED! and the sweet family and Scott and I just were laughing and talking to each other and it was so amazing.

Turns out the family are the O’Connors from Chicago: Ben, Julie and daughters Brennan and Delany. Here’s all of us (Scott, too).

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And here’s the super cool amazing pic that Ben snapped of me and Bruce.

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Holy Shit. It happened. I’ve got the photo evidence.

How do I feel? Still amazed and blessed and super grateful. Also, I feel only more determined to manage to meet him again and this time I’m going to be more prepared. Let me tell you, if you want to meet someone who seems unreachable, whether it’s Bruce or someone else, get ready. Think about what you want to say or ask, what you’d like to have with you to give to them, what you want to be sure to not miss. Because I was so absolutely positive I could never meet him that I never put any time into preparing and although I have no regrets, I do sort of have that one regret. That I wasn’t more ready.

For one thing, I’d love to tell him about this blog. I’d love to give him a bit of my writing about what he’s meant to me. I’d love to be better practiced with the camera phone. All that shit. I don’t even know what-all. But, my friend, I’ll tell you this for sure—I’m gonna be putting some serious energy into preparing for the next time the impossible happens, and I get to meet Bruce Springsteen.

 

Little Steven, Miami Steve, guitar player in the E Street Band, star of Lillehammer and The Sopranos, incredible musician, and founder of the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation.

Steven Van Zandt is the man. And I MET HIM at Louisville.

It wasn’t any big amazing synchronicity. I donated a relatively large sum of money to his foundation and in exchange I got a seat ticket, and admission to a meet and greet. Also was able to bring my friend, Britt. That’s me on the left.

It was a total thrill to be there. We were all gathered in a private room with a complimentary bar (I don’t drink, so I had a cranberry juice fizz) and a view over the river. We all hung out for about 15 minutes after we got into the venue and then Stevie showed up. Early, apparently. He just sauntered in, and Michael-Ann, the awesome woman who runs the meet and greet at each show was like, “Steven! What are you doing here?!”

He just smiled at her and went to sit at the bar, waved his hand and said, “go ahead, organize, I’ll be here having a drink.” It was hysterical!

So she organized us into a line and he came, and we all shuffled through, had a brief exhange (“Hi how are you? You’re awesome, thank you.”), a quick picture snapped by their photographer, and then it was over. He said, “have a great time” to each of us after our picture. We all stood around watching other people get their turn.

After we all got through, he took time to talk to a teenage girl who was there with her father and wants to be a rock and roll music writer. It was really great to see him there talking to her. He was very encouraging and it seemed like by the end they were talking with Michael-Ann about getting the young woman in touch with the executive director of the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, which was really exciting.

He is just as normal and down to earth and cool as you would expect him to be. It was worth every penny to meet him and it really helped shake me out of the blah I was feeling in the last post.

Getting in to the pit was a sort of surprise bonus and it worked out GREAT for me and Britt. We ended up close to the front in front of Stevie and Patti. The show was awesome. Another post coming real soon with some details on that and a BUNCH of photos.

 

 

 

I lost the pit lottery at both shows. Dammit. At least at Sunrise I was on the front of the GA rail, and we missed by less than 50. But at Atlanta we were practically dead last. I have to admit that I take it personally. Is it really random, chance, luck? When I keep meeting people who seem to almost always make it into the pit?

I know that I shouldn’t complain, I’m lucky and blessed to even be able to see him at all, let alone get GA tickets, let alone FOUR shows. But, I can’t help it.

Well, anyway. Here are just a few pics from Atlanta.

My travels have been uneventful, mostly lonely and not so much fun. During the journey, on planes and in cars, I’ve realized that being a fan includes a certain amount of misery. It’s got a lot in common with unrequited love. You’re somewhat obsessed with someone who doesn’t even know you exist.

There’s this longing, which feels ridiculous, to just meet the guy. But that wouldn’t be enough either. I’d want to be invited to Christmas. Or at least have the chance to sit down and just talk with him for a couple hours.

Sigh.

But, hey. Whatcha gonna do? Just keep on going to shows and trying for the pit and sometimes making it to the front of the stage. Listening to his music, letting it touch you, staying in touch with your bruce buds and the Facebook fan group…and hoping that nothing happens to upset things for a long long time, so you get at least a bunch more shows in. Because the unthinkable just can’t…happen.

Grappling with all kinds of things these days. Mortality, mine and everyone’s, seems to be at the top of the list.

This post has no point. Just a ramble. I’m sitting in Louisville right now.

Aaaaaaand…some news: I decided to spend some money and donate to Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation and get a (really good) seat, and get to meet him. Tonight. So…more on that next post.

 

 

Show #1 of The River Tour. The pics aren’t so great because I was kinda far back. But I needed to illustrate the post with SOMETHING! Hope these at least give a bit of the energy of the night.

It was…breathless, breathtaking, big, heart-rending, deep, crazy, sensational, love-full, loud, fun, funny, laughing, crying, whispering, dark, bright, open, streamlined, full-on, full of memories, a gift, light for the heart, soul-lifting, essential, best ever.

The heart of rock and roll is the heart of us is the heart of Bruce and we all wish we could be the one to sit in his dressing room after the show, after his shower, sip the whiskey, hear his thoughts. How it went. What he thinks. What he feels.

Because he’s so. Darn. Friendly. When you see him on stage, him and the band, you see his humanity. You see the little errors, the stumbles in their communications, the moment when he’s making sweet to Patti after singing “Crush on You.” You notice Stevie remind Bruce early on in the show to turn around and sing to the people in the limited view seating behind the stage. When  Bruce nods, turns, motions to rest of the band, and they walk back to play to that crowd behind them, and then the fans back there rise to their feet and the roar of their appreciation swells up so loud–when all that happens, it’s like your heart, which you thought was pretty big to begin with, is going to burst out of your chest.

Most of us couldn’t really exactly explain this magic that is Springsteen. You can watch the Springsteen and I movie to see people trying. And doing a fair job, really.

But I’ve been wondering about it lately.

I was watching people at the show. In the GA line outside before doors opened (pretty cold), on the floor before the show (jostling for position), during the show (faces in rapture), after the show (high-fiving their friends, reliving moments in words).

I was trying to guess what Bruce means to them. Why do they love him. What can they say? How do we say it?

I am trying to say it.

I’m failing.

Words can’t do it.

Nothing can do it.

It’s the language of the heart.

Intangible. Unexplicable.

 

Mystery.

 

 

 

Hello everyone!

Long time, no write. But Bruce is back now and it’s time to pick up the pen. Or the keyboard, as it were. (BTW, try clicking the photo above to see all of Bruce.)

I sit at this very moment in The Coffee Tree Roasters coffee shop in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA. I am staying in an Airbnb nearby. And we are T-minus 6.75 hours til official showtime for the tour opener. By the time I post this, obviously, it will be less! (And if you reading in the future…well, it’s T-plus, I guess.) I will be there – if all goes according to my evil plan, I will be elbows on the stage, but even if not, I’ll be pretty damn close.

So. What have I been up to for the past forever time since I last posted? And even before that (because Goddess knows I have still not made this blog what I wanted it to be)? My original vision for blog was a place for me to write about following Bruce, yes. But also to write about anything in the entire universe that matters to me: what I think and what I feel and what might somehow reach out and touch someone else. YOU.

Well, I tell myself: no worries. As many wise ones have said, the past is dead, the future unwritten, and all we have is the present. Here and now, in the present, my heart still beats and my mind still thinks and my hands still type and this old macbook still works, SO, here I go.

Quick recap. My recent life in a bullet list:

  • I am a healer, writer, photographer and good friend. At least, I want to be those, and occasionally I manage to actually do the actions that would make them manifest. That was the impetus behind creating this blog/website.
  • I’m also a plant ecologist by training with an absurd amount of experience in the world of environmental consulting, and I have tended to go back to that work because it is 1) interesting and 2) financially rewarding.
  • When I started this blog, I was working P/T for a consulting firm in the SF Bay Area, and living in Austin, TX.
  • Bruce Springsteen inspires the bejeezus out of me. It is hard to completely explain this. So in early 2014, I decide to follow him and blog about it. That experience was so inspiring and amazing and incredible and awesome and uplifting and FUN. But the blogging didn’t quite go as well as planned. Turns out that seeing 8 shows means spending a LOT of time driving, sleeping, eating and standing in line. And ROCKING OUT. Not very much time for  blogging. (excuses, excuses) I still have all my notes from talking to people at the shows and all the photos, but very few blog posts came out of it.
  • After tour, I found out that a dear friend of mine in California who had brain cancer was close to the end, and he and his wife decided to move to Kauai for his passing and for her to start her life there. Something she had always wanted to do. So I, for reasons that are complex and beyond the scope of this post, went with them: I sublet my place in Austin to someone who could take care of my cat (who, by the way, deserves an entire blog post of her own and will get one someday), drove to the Bay Area, shipped my car to Kauai, and flew over.
  • He died. That was very very very very sad.
  • I realized I didn’t want to live in Kauai, so in November (2014) I shipped the car BACK to the Bay Area, and accepted a big promotion at my company. I got the cat, gave up the apartment in Austin and settled into a little cottage.
  • By July 2015, I was totally burned out on the new job (because I’m really a healer/writer/photographer and not a full time high stress business manager). I was also synchronously on a vacation to New York and New Jersey when the word went out that Bruce was in APNJ and likely to show up at the Wonder Bar to jam with his old friends, Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers. I changed my plans in a heartbeat and drove to Asbury Park, got like the last hotel room in town, showed up at the bar, scored a ticket…he showed up. Game changer. Another post on that entire experience may come someday.
  • Thus inspired, I went back to California and quit the job, took the money and ran. All the way to Asheville, NC.
  • Within a week of arriving there, I was under contract on a sweet sweet SWEET country cabin, with a separate apartment that I could make into an Airbnb, located about 25 minutes southeast of Asheville.
  • On October 29 I closed. On November 11 I moved in. On November 22 the first Airbnb guest stayed. On November 26 I started driving for Uber. And coming up, I’m going to get my realtor license and maybe start a little vacation rental property management biz. Plans to write, photograph and heal are also in the works.
  • In December, Bruce released The River Box Set, announced The River Tour, and me and my Bruce Bud, Britt, bought General Admission tickets to January 29th DC show and 3 February southeast shows.
  • The holidays were a rough time, and I was slogging through the usual January deep blues (yes, depression). Then on this past Monday, I realized that the best thing I could do for myself was see Bruce. I made an Airbnb reservation and signed up for the so-cool ticket drop notification service (i.e. ticket drones) and decided to go to Pittsburgh. With some kind of amazing ticket karma, I scored a GA ticket during a Ticketmaster ticket drop the next day.
  • And, here we are. Well, here I am. I don’t know where YOU are.

And that about brings us up to date.

I will see you tomorrow, with photos from the front of the stage, if lady luck is with me.

Rock on.

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.

It is hard to believe it’s been so long since the shows. I miss the touring life. Much is changing, much too fast. More on that soon.

I finally made my way through the Houston pics and selected some to edit. This is a few of the first I’ve played around with. I shot over 700 pics that night. Being front and center really made a big difference.

From Austin, TX, through Arkansas, Tennesee, North Carolina, Florida and beyond, here’s just a small selection of some of my favorite iPhone photos from the road trip. I often passed great photos by, but just as often, I pulled off if possible and jumped out to snap some good ones.

Rest stops were amazing, especially in Arkansas and Tennessee. Beautiful states!

It was the morning of April 21st and I was sitting in the room in Raleigh that I had rented through Airbnb. My new friend (Liz, from Israel) who I had not yet met in person, had just texted me that she knew someone with an extra General Admission ticket for the Sunrise, FL show on April 29th and it was mine if I wanted it.

My general plan had been to see Bruce in Nashville (4/17), Charlotte (4/19), Raleigh (4/24) and Atlanta (4/26), skip the two Florida shows  and spend a week in New Orleans exploring the city and getting caught up on work and blogging before seeing him at the New Orleans Jazz Fest (5/3) and Houston (5/6). That would have been six shows in all, which had seemed like a respectable and really enviable run when I was planning the trip from my little house in Austin.

But after seeing Bruce twice, I was feeling the juice, the soul, the fire.

I was ON fire!

I wanted more Bruce, more E Street Band, more opportunities to make it to the front of the stage. I felt a pull to dive in deep and let the adventure take me where it would.

When I got the text that there was a ticket to Sunrise if I wanted it—

I wanted it!

 

So, immediately, I wrote to my New Orleans Airbnb hosts, Greg and Betty. Would it be okay for me to change my reservation and only stay two days instead of a week? Greg wrote back almost immediately,

Far be it for us to stand between a loyal fan of Bruce’s and her sacred pilgrimage.

That was sweet. Awwww! OKAY. It’s a go! I’m going to Florida! I’m going to see 8 shows! Wooohoooooo….

And then…

BAM!!!

The volume cranked up on those damn inner naysayers and critics and practical people that live inside my head.

“What about work?”

“Your too old; your body can’t take that much driving.”

“You won’t get any work done if you go.”

“You’ll drive thousands of miles.”

That stopped my thoughts in their tracks. THOUSANDS OF MILES?

So, I googled it. Sure enough, Atlanta to Sunrise to Tampa to New Orleans – 1550 miles. 22 hours driving time.  In how long?

Saturday: Atlanta

Tuesday: Sunrise

Thursday: Tampa

Saturday: New Orleans.

Um, that would be 1550 miles of driving in ONE WEEK!

Not to mention the drive from Raleigh to Atlanta right before, or from New Orleans to Houston right after. And then, for the LOVE OF GOD, I was driving all the way to California after Houston.

That all seemed beyond possible. I was daunted. I admit it. I just gave up right then and there. Threw in the towel. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. The chains of shoulds and oughts wrapped around me and I was blindfolded and bound.

I looked up the drive from Atlanta to New Orleans: 470 miles (about 7 hours).

So much more reasonable. So much more sane.

[And, here I have to admit, I was also feeling guilty because I was changing my reservation. I’m not sure why this happens, but somehow I think that I’m responsible for, well, just about everyone and everything. Because I had made this reservation, now I had to keep it. Even though I was well within the time limit of their cancellation policy AND Greg had also been so supportive and flexible in his first email. But, still, I felt this tug somewhere in my chest or my abdomen…I was WRONG to change my reservation.]

So, I wrote back to Greg. “Never mind, I’m too old. It’s crazy. I can’t.”

Assuming that settled it, sanity had won out, I tried to turn my attention to my work. Before I could get anywhere in that endeavor, Greg wrote again.

Uma,

Good Try. We won’t accept the, . . . old boy of mine. . . ‘, schtick.

You sound like a active and energetic person. We get the sense that if you committed and commenced your drive to Florida, you’d find a way to make it a wonderful adventure – and be no worse for the wear. :-)”

It was as though he knew me, right? I mean, what the H- – -??!

I emailed him back.

Greg,

OH MY GOSH
are you kidding me?

Now, I feel like i really should do it!

If I did, it would probably mean that I actually don’t arrive until Saturday because I’d need two days to get from Tampa to New Orleans – and then I’d go right to the Festival after dropping my bags at your house. Is that still ok? Then it would only be Saturday to Monday!

[ Notice that I was making extra sure that he wasn’t going to hate me for my irresponsibility in changing the reservation. Despite the fact that he clearly was encouraging me to go.]

Okay, folks. So, here’s the kicker. Here’s the reason for this entire post. Here’s the Mystery at work in my life. Greg wrote me back:

Hi Uma,

Barring the earth being struck by a major asteroid or Elvis making an appearance, we’ll be here whether you arrive on the April 28th or on May 3rd.

So, what is really more important is your desire . . . and your dream. To that, the words of Thoreau and Whitman come to mind:

Thoreau in his work, “Walden Or Life in the Woods”:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,

and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,

to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

Whitman – O Me! O Life! ‘ 
O ME! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; 
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish; 
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) 
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d; 
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me; 
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined; 
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life? 

Answer.

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;

That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

 So, Uma – Do you want to suck out all the marrow of life, and drive life into a corner?

And ultimately, what will your verse be?

Just let us know

Greg & Betty

 

Can you imagine? What would YOU have done if this happened to YOU? Maybe you’d do what I did.

1. Burst into tears. Sobbing, chest-heaving tears.

2. Then start laughing at the same time.

3. Through your tears write Greg back…

 

Greg,

I don’t know you and yet clearly, you have been sent from my own soul to help me out.

You could not really know how meaningful it is, that you sent me Thoreau and Whitman, but…

I am actually crying right now.

I would like to arrive on Saturday May 3rd and stay til Monday May 5th.

thank you, more than I can say

~Uma

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And this, my friends, is the root of adventure.

This is the real Mystery at work.

This is the fire and the flame and the Way that calls you always Home, to your truest self. This is the offering and the offerer, all in one.

This is your sword, this is your shield
This is the power of love revealed
Carry it with you wherever you go
And give all the love that you have in your soul

-This is Your Sword, Bruce Springsteen

∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗

Are you willing?

Will you throw your desires to the wind and see what blows back to you?

Will you listen to the Call of a New Life?

On April 21st, I said yes.

And today, I’m saying YES again.

 

2014-04-28 14.36.13

At the Raleigh show, on Thursday, April 24, I met a bunch of very cool people, including three women who became my tour family. I am pretty sure that I will be friends with them for the rest of my life.

I actually first had contact with them online, through the by-the-seat-of-my-pants pre-tour “marketing” that I was trying to do for this website.

Liz found me through the Facebook group, “Calling All Bruce Springsteen Fans,” where I had posted about my journey and blogging plans. She emailed me privately to ask if she and her friend could catch a ride with me from Raleigh to Atlanta. They were coming from Israel for some shows. Of course, I said yes. I figured even if I didn’t like them very much, it would only be a 5 hour drive and nice to have some company and someone to split the gas costs with.

Brit responded to my post on The Promised Land that invited fans to get in touch if they were willing to let me interview them.  She came to this blog and filled out the contact form in the upper right. (A few people did, actually, and let me tell you that made me SO HAPPY.)

😀

So…it turned out that Liz and Maya got to Raleigh the day before the show. I ended up having dinner with them. From the start, we liked each other. Well, I liked them. I am assuming they liked me. We had burgers in downtown Raleigh at Chuck’s. [Short aside: if you go to Raleigh and you like burgers, eat here!]

The next day, I headed off to the arena to get my wristband but got sidetracked getting something to eat and seeing some waitresses I’d met (see this post for more on that synchronicity). So, I got there a little late and got my wristband, meeting Jackie the security lady in the process. She was very cool.

 

2014-04-24 15 Jackie

Jackie, the security lady. Thanks for being so sweet and open to being in my blog. I hope you see that I finally wrote about you

By  the time I got my wristband, it was about 3. Brit and I had been texting and planning to meet, and so we did, in the parking lot. I interviewed her (such as it was) and photographed her.

Brit!

Brit!

More about the interview coming soon in a separate post. But we connected and had a good time talking, and by the time the lottery came around, although we were not together in line, I was texting with Brit as well as Liz and Maya.

The short story is that none of us made it into the pit, but we got in at the front of the rest of the GA section and I ended up with one spot on the second rail (at the “ramp stage” behind the pit section). Bruce can come down off the stage, around the side of the pit and up on that ramp when and if he feels like it. Although there was some jockeying for position, overall, everyone was sharing and talking, and we had a fine time meeting the people around us before the show started.  I was beginning to see that this happened before every show – and then the lights come up and everyone usually scatters, with or without a goodbye.

Raleigh was a great night. The show was good. Nothing spectacular, but Bruce was in his usual high energy form and we all were excited that he came to the back a bunch of times, and I even got to touch his leg a few times. Having him sing right above us was pretty spectacular and that night was the closest I had come to him yet. However, I don’t have any good pics of him from that show. I just hadn’t gotten the hang of shooting his fast action with the iPhone yet, plus when he came by, I just wanted to LOOK at him and soak him up. Not try to take pics.

It was also a sweet night because his daughter, Jess, was graduating from Duke and she and her friends were in the audience. Patti was with the band that night (I think it was the first show I’d seen her at this tour) and Bruce dedicated Growing Up to Jess, invited her friends to sing with him (what song was that?) and he danced with Jess on Dancing in the Dark. (Which of course bummed out all the women in the front who had hoped he would pick them for that special dance.)

Anyway…I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but at the end of the last encore (Thunder Road), the four of us didn’t scatter. Brit, Liz and Maya told me they had decided that the we should get wristbands as a group for the rest of shows we would all be at on this tour and see the shows together.  I was kind of surprised, because although friends had suggested that I would meet friends and travel with other fans on tour, I’m something of a loner and I didn’t really think it would happen. But I said that sounded good to me!

We left the floor and walked out together. It was like we’d been friends for years, even though we’d all just met and really didn’t know each other at all. Something about sharing this very specific love for Bruce and his music, and also something about the four of us and our personalities, made us just gel. It is something that often happened when I was younger, seeing Dead shows, or traveling. But now that I’m 50, it hasn’t happened in a loooong time.

By the time we got outside, I was exhausted. The three of them (young whippersnappers) wanted to go around to the back of the arena and see if they could catch sight of Bruce leaving the venue. I said my goodbyes, with plans to pick up Liz and Maya the next morning for the journey to Atlanta and to meet Brit and her husband, Chris, in Atlanta in two days for the next show. I told them I didn’t think they’d see him, but as I waved goodbye and turned toward my car, I thought to myself, “Oh, I bet they DO find him!” It turned out they did, and he waved at them as he got into a car and was whisked away. It felt like a shining omen for the rest of the adventure.

Liz, Maya and Brit, outside Raleigh right before they found the back entrance and got a wave from Bruce.

Liz, Maya and Brit, outside PNC Arena in Raleigh, right before they found the back entrance and got a wave from Bruce.

I’m back! I know the whole idea was to blog about my Bruce adventure while I was in it, but you probably noticed—that didn’t happen.

It turns out that seeing eight (yes, 8) Bruce shows means a hell of a lot of driving and not a lot of writing. Um, make that NO WRITING.

After my final show in Houston on May 6, I drove all the way to California. (So far, I’ve driven almost 7,000 miles since I left my house in Austin on April 14th.) Upon arrival in California, I started a mad schedule of work and socializing. I’m finally beginning to catch my breath – and am ready to blog again.

I still want to make posts about each of the shows in the order I saw them, including the adventures, the people, the energy…and what it has meant to me. But for now, I’m going to post some photos of my journey and of the band and leave the storytelling to the next post. I hope you enjoy and I am glad you stopped by to check things out here at my home on the world wide web.