Since my routine has altered to include this writing ritual, I come home from work and have a glass of wine and write for about an hour. This afternoon I settled in to the mix Rodney was listening to, and was about halfway through when Thunder Road came on. I kept writing, singing along blithely, and not really thinking about it (except for how much I love the song, how happy I was to hear it) and before I knew it I was singing the words
show a little faith, there's magic in the night,
you ain't a beauty, but hey, you're all right...
and my throat closed and my voice stopped and tears were running down my face.
Oddly, I wasn't thinking of the approximately 3 million hours my friend Trish and I drove around together in her Barracuda, singing those words as loudly as was humanly possible. I wasn't thinking about seeing Bruce Springsteen in concert, though I grant you it has been a gift beyond price when I have. I wasn't thinking about the song, even, especially: what a great song it is, what a great lyric, how much I love it.
I was thinking of Carrie O'Hare Hogan, who lived most of her life and died within a couple of hours of Bruce Springsteen's house, who like any self-respecting Jersey girl worshipped at his shrine, who loved me from the time we were 12 years old until she died. I wasn't even thinking, really. I was seeing pictures, memories flashing like a slide show on meth, too fast but perfectly comfortable. The last time I was with O'Hare before she died, we watched a Springsteen concert on TV. That was right before she asked me, in the dark nighttime after everyone else was finally sleeping, to come back up and speak at her funeral. She trusted me to do it, she said, "But don't forget: no sex, drugs, or rock and roll. My mother will be at this funeral," and we laughed until we couldn't breathe, thinking of her mother, driving us to a Rod Stewart concert, long before we had a clue about The Boss. And I did speak at her funeral. It was 5 years ago. Tonight I realized I probably should have used those words of Springsteen's that I found I could not sing:
you can hide 'neath your covers and study your pain
make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
waste your summer praying in vain...
My dears, hold fast to your beloved friends, for they may be with you and then not with you. Sometimes it happens so fast.
Oh, why the palmetto photo? You might have expected me to use a photo of O'Hare, or me and O'Hare, or her kids at The Happiest Place on Earth (her credo, not mine), or one with her much loved sisters and brother...I used this one because one of her endless delights in visiting me was that there were PALM TREES in MY YARD. I never could make clear the distinction in her mind; she didn't care, anyway. Palmettos were close enough, and anyway, she was always that friend you treasure for her generosity with forgiveness. If I could call her now and say how sorry I was that I'd let 5 years go by without talking to her, she'd laugh and say, "There's no crying in baseball," and that would be that.