Returning to a time of hope and expectation

Published 6:07 pm Friday, December 21, 2007

By Staff
I'm not a fan of repeat columns, but Dan Fogelberg's passing this week brought this one to mind. I wrote and published this column in July 2002, after seeing him in concert at The Morris while on his 30th anniversary tour. I was 40 at the time. I'll be 46 in early January.
This column says all I was feeling this week when I learned about his death. Here's hoping it will rekindle in you some of the person you were when you first learned to love his work.
"Just for a moment,
I was back at school
and felt that old, familiar pain.
And as I turned
to make my way back home,
the snow turned into rain."
– Dan Fogelberg,
"Another Old Lang Syne"
I was so surprised to see her – never thought I would again.
I recognized her immediately, like it had only been yesterday when last I looked in a mirror and saw her staring back at me.
There she was – a freshman in high school, bright-eyed, a dreamer, full of hope and expectations, eager and happy.
Here I am, 26 years later at 40 – perimenopausal, layered, jaded, fading.
OK, maybe not as bad as all that, but certainly lacking her perspective.
It was wonderful, even if it lasted only a couple of hours, to be that young, fresh, full-of-life-and-all-its-potential girl again.
I have his music to thank for it.
I saw Dan Fogelberg in concert the first time as a freshman in high school. That young girl thought of life as a wonderful, exciting journey just waiting for her to be of an age to take it. She was bursting with enthusiasm, could hardly wait to begin that magnificent trip.
Days were filled with friends and school and daydreams of the future and what my life would be like, all set to music – Fogelberg and The Eagles, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, John Denver, and, of course, Lynyrd Skynyrd.
And, Heart, John Cougar, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan.
But Fogelberg was the man who made the music which set young girls to dreaming of the mysteries that await them. At least he did that for me.
Music was such an important part of my life when I was young and bright-eyed and hopeful.
Why did that change? When did that change?
Today, I'm lucky to catch a full song on my five-minute drive to work.
I saw Fogelberg in concert a second time as a junior in college. Still young, full of hope, bright-eyed. Not as innocent, reality nipping at my heels.
I listened to him play his music again Wednesday night in South Bend, when he swept away almost three decades and let me feel like that young girl again.
Fogelberg was at the Morris performing his 30th anniversary tour.
How strange it felt to be at a concert again. How strange it was to be surrounded by an auditorium of mostly 40-ish people and realize – that's me.
He sat down at the piano, played less than a full measure of "To the Morning," and the entire place at once let out a gasp. It came flooding back, all of it, to all of us.
I'll bet I haven't had my "Home Free" cassette in a player in more than 20 years, but it took only a note or two to bring it back, lyrics and all.
The passage of time can be cruel. A wise Niles woman, Eleanor Drew, would never tell her age. I asked her why that was. She said age is just a number of years which has nothing to do with who a person is. The tragic thing about aging, she said, is your body wrinkles and sags and you are filled with aches and pains, while inside you are the same person you were at 19.
So true.
Wednesday night, after that bittersweet experience, I vowed to myself not to lose that girl again, at least not so completely. I want to keep a little of her with me, like her enthusiasm and hope.
And I'm going to find a place in my life again for music.
And daydreams.
If through the years you've lost your way, too, I hope you make time this weekend to turn off your TV. Shoo the kids out of the house. Maybe call some friends. Grab that stack of old LPs and turn on the turntable.
Even if it's for only a couple of hours, I hope you get to visit with that part of yourself you thought lost forever, the part that was bright-eyed and full of life.
And, I hope you convince them to stick around for awhile.