Not that river. This river.
Why is there a large picture of Bruce on my blog about my bikini journey? Indulge me….I’ll bring it all home, I promise. I once had a dear friend/hairdresser put her hands gently on my shoulders and say “Honey, it must be like a waterfall in your head.” That’s what I’ve felt like for the past two weeks, and it’s a feeling I have frequently. Thoughts that seemingly have no relevance to each other start coming, and coming fast, and I literally have to make notes to stay focused. The notes are getting longer and more frequent….not because I’m having more epiphanies. Because menopause is doing to my brain what global warming is doing to the polar icecaps.
Back to Bruce Springsteen. I am more than a loyal fan. I grew up in Philly where he’s a damn hero. I have been to over 25 shows in cities all across the country and I won’t even tell you what I’ve paid for tickets over the years. I even almost got arrested once when I tried to sneak into a show in Providence, Rhode Island. I was in college and too poor to buy a ticket. It would have been worth it. His shows are a religious experience for me. I understand being overcome by the Spirit(In the Night) and I highly recommend catching a show before you die. Any man in his 60’s that can play for over 4 hours deserves your attention at least once, no matter where your tastes lie.
Anyway, this week I got my tickets for the show in Oakland in March. And like I always do when I get ready for a show, I think of my relationship with the E Street Band and start listening to them on repeat on my phone. I realized that it was precisely this week, December 8th to be exact, thirty five years ago , that I first got baptized down by the river. I think I remember the date because it was my first concert. Why my mother let me take the subway, at 13 years old, with two friends and thier older brothers (and a large bottle of Barcardi 151) still baffles me. In her defense, she didn’t know about the Bacardi and those were different times. Sometimes I think I remember the date because it was the day that John Lennon got shot, and I listened to Bruce talk a lot about John Lennon throughout the show. Music at that time started to become important to me. It started to have meaning. I LISTENED to the words, and what they meant. I relate songs to events in my life, and listening to The River this week reminded me of being in high school and I thought of that saying “I wish I was as fat as I was when I first thought I was fat.” It was right around this time. All of my girlfriends were small and boyish. Not me…I left 7th grade in a hanes undershirt, and started 8th grade in a bra bigger than my mom’s (I later learned that this would come in handy at 7-11 if we wanted beer.) This was about this time that the self-hate talk came. When I REALLY think about it, it’s laughable! Sure, I could have been the poster child for awkward teen, but there was nothing wrong with my body! Who first told me that? Who first told me I was “fat” and why did I listen and believe them?
How many girls are ten years old now, and already hate themselves? I’m not talking about struggling with childhood obesity…I’m talking about perfectly average weight and build future women starting the loop of hate that plays in their heads. It then went from laughable to sad. I have a beautiful daughter and I know she felt feelings like this. And I want to punch myself in the throat when I wonder if her feelings came from listening to my self-talk.
I’m not a femi-nazi, but I feel so strongly that it’s up to the women. We have GOT to be good examples for the young women coming up behind us. It’s easy to judge someone who is a little chubby, and it’s more socially acceptable to be self depricating than self loving. I’m realizing this journey I am on is about a lot, especially public accountablity. So I’m saying it….I’m going to stop listening to the harsh voice in my head that comes spewing out of my mouth. You should too. Be kind to yourself and be kind to the other women and girls around you. If you’re a man and you’re reading this, be a good example for the mothers, sisters, wives, and girlfriends in your life: don’t let them lie to themselves. We sometimes need you to be strong for us. Remind us that we are perfect.
I’m going to keep listening to Bruce, and keep believing in the Promised Land and keep thinking about how fat I was when I first thought I was fat; and I need to remember that I’ll look at myself NOW like that someday in the future. And I want future me to be proud of the things I said and thought about myself today. Because I know someone is listening.