I saw Stevie Nicks in concert last night, and I was transported in time.
Music can do that for us. Suddenly we are in the place when we first fell in love with the songs we are hearing again. Suddenly we are the age we were when we first started singing them out loud to ourselves. I was 12 years old when I first started singing “Gold Dust Woman.” How ridiculous. 12 years old when I learned the words to “Landslide” and started singing to myself, “Well I’ve been afraid of changin’ ’cause I built my life around you. But time makes you bolder, even children get older, and I’m getting older, too.”
I was a student at a private school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida called Pine Crest. My parents let me go to school so far away from my home in Pennsylvania because I was a good swimmer who hoped to be great someday. The coach at Pine Crest was the USA women’s Olympic coach known for developing young talent. I was hoping to be one of those “young talent.” So, off I went to live in a dorm with girls from all over the world, but mostly from South America. The girls at Pine Crest were either swimmers or from very wealthy parents who wanted their daughters to get an education in the United States.
How I came to be in the Miami Baseball Stadium on that spring day, unchaperoned but with a few friends, I don’t remember. I remember the smell of marijuana, not knowing what it was until told. I remember seeing people dancing and swaying with the music, some lying on blankets, none taking pictures and posting them on Facebook. It was a different time.
Stevie Nicks and I have aged 40 years, but she has stayed the same in so many ways. Her voice singing “Landslide” last night was clear, not resentful of having to sing the song again, but grateful for what it has given her and all of us. Before she started, she said, “Little did that little girl know that that one song would take her to the top. So, always keep your eyes open. Here it is, Landslide.” She still wore the long, flowing black sleeves, carried the tambourine and tied scares to the microphone, but she had the wisdom of years now. She knew better. She had given up drugs and knew to put friends before flatterers.
I had a lot of dreams back then, as I’m sure you all did, as Stevie did, when she wrote “Landslide” and had no idea it would “take her to the top.” I remember standing in the Miami Baseball Stadium taking it all in, loving the freedom of being away from the dorm, feeling like I could do absolutely anything without getting in trouble, worried about how late we would get back because I had homework to do. I think someone may have told me to “Chill out.” I was mesmerized by Stevie Nicks, as all of the 40,000 people in attendance were. When she twirled around, we moved too, and felt free.
Now, 40 years later, she has experienced pain and loss, written dozen of hits, recorded with Prince and Tom Petty, broken up with Fleetwood Mac and gotten back together again, and come back to Salt Lake City, where she once lived as a child, to stand in front of a packed house at Energy Solutions Arena and play for a screaming crowd. And I, 40 years later, have come to feel genuinely free. No one tells me to “Chill out.” I am already chill. Whatever dreams I had of swimming the 200 butterfly died with a thyroid problem unknown to me at the time of the taking of that picture above, but I see it now as a blessing. All roads lead to here, and here is where I want to be.
Here is where I can stand next to a man I love so completely and who loves me so completely in return that when tears start to stream down my face at the beginning of “Landslide,” he pulls me close to him and puts his arm around me. He lets me sing out. We sway to the music together, and I cry without hiding it. If you had asked the little girl who went to the concert 40 years before what her dreams were of a happy life, she probably would have said something short-sighted about the Olympics, but if she had really thought about it might have said, “I want to be happy. I just want to fall in love with a good man who loves me as crazy all the way as I love him.”