Blog Your Blessings: 'Thunder Road'
The long ride home from North Carolina to Connecticut on Wednesday became a sojourn on E Street, a full-immersion baptism into the music of Bruce Springsteen. That miracle called satellite radio brought me version after version after version of hits such as "Badlands," "The Rising," "Johnny 99," "Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep," and "Thunder Road." There were no repeats; each version was a new experience.
Bruce closed my 13 hours in the car with the words, "I'm just a prisoner of 'Thunder Road.'" Which made me laugh out loud. And smile. And think. This is a song I have never much liked, though I very much like Springsteen. Last night I fell into my bed wondering, how can I like this guy's music and dislike this song that, by his own account defines him?
Back to the miracle of satellite radio. Somewhere along Route 270, I listened to an early version of "Thunder Road," and he sang with such plain passion that I didn't mind at all the line that has been my sticking point all these years--when he tells Mary, frankly, "You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright/Oh and that's alright with me." How dare he?, I used to wonder.
In Maryland (where I never like to be because it is neither North Carolina nor Connecticut but this Thing in the Way that seems to go on for way too long), I thought, "So what do you want, Sandy?" The answer: a perfect world. Tell her she's beautiful because in your heart you see her that way. Make the magic be there. Write the love poem I have always wanted. Be perfect.
But the magic is in the honesty of seeing her just as she is, saying so, and for all that--not nevertheless--calling her a vision.
You've got to do your time with someone and genuinely love her to say it right--and get her to climb in the car with you. You desire her for who she is and not for some idea of her that suits your ego. This is the love poem I have always wanted--but I didn't get it.
The love that can say that is the love that sticks around, takes the trash out, cleans the bathroom for you, and wants you with a desire that isn't afraid to leave the lights on as it holds you close and looks you in the eye.
I told a friend recently that I knew I needed to climb out of the Sandy boxes--my old ways of seeing and doing things that are comfortable for me but are also limiting (and, way too often, damaging). I realized this need for change when I was looking at my photos from my December trip to Topsail. I noticed that more often than not I zeroed in on what I wanted at the expense of the rest of the world. I robbed these bits and pieces of their context. They are perfect, but what good is that in the middle of nowhere? None at all.
This time around, I challenged myself to take in the big picture even as I focused on one pelican, one heron, one one-inch clam in a puddle.
Looking at those tightly cropped pictures from Christmastime, I realized that that closing in on what I like at the expense of everything else reflected the part of me that can be unforgiving. It's what it's supposed to be or it isn't--and if it isn't, straight to hell with it, and let's by all means turn up the damned heat.
Right now, I am not looking for the perfect world. I am in it. Right now, I want to make it good somehow. Make it real.