Tuesday, May 29, 2012

let's talk neil diamond

Way back in the day, what seems like forever ago, I moved to Colorado.  I was just starting my senior year in high school.  Long story short, it was a quick decision, made on a whim.  I was being all dramatic and all, "I'm going to quit school!" "Boohoo I hate my life!" "Boys suck!" and my awesome aunt, who happened to be visiting from Colorado, had the misfortune of being in the near vicinity for the conversation.

So, like only an awesome aunt would do, she offered to house me for the year, kind of like an exchange student.  My mom was probably all, "WooHOO!  Take her!  She's greaaattt...." And then she winked and high-fived anyone in the near vicinity behind my aunt's back.  My mom must have laughed herself silly the whole way home at my poor unsuspecting aunt's clear lack of understanding of dramatic teen aged girls.  And she ran straight to the travel agent and secured my plane ticket before my aunt could change her mind.

And so pretty much a week later I was crying on the plane to Colorado.  Because once I sat down in my squishy tight uncomfy seat, it suddenly became pretty clear that I was leaving my sisters, my little town with all of the kids I was friends with since kindergarten, my awesome bedroom and my big comfy bed, my dogs, my parents and like, everything I knew.  On a whim.  For an entire year.

I was basically so freaking scared.

When the plane arrived in Denver, my aunt was there to get me with my two cousins.  One was six and one was almost three.  The three year old had a meltdown on the way to the baggage claim area and I was sufficiently mortified.  Because he was loudly flipping out and I was a very easily embarrassed seventeen year old who did not like to be looked at.  And when all of the people in the airport turned to look at the noisy lot of us as we walked by,  I thought to myself, "Whoa self, what did you just do?!"

As we drove through the development to the house, I was thinking, "I am never going to remember which house is mine."  Every single house looked the same, and the streets in the development seemed completely confusing.  So very different than the unique homes in my little rural community.  Thankfully, all of the driveways had the house numbers painted on them (weird?), so I figured at least I could memorize my number (8336 - still got it 25 years later!).  And we were home.

My aunt showed me around, showed me my room.  It was a good sized room that they had been using as a playroom.  It was pretty basic and bare with white painted walls and just a twin pull-out bed, bookcases and a desk.  I felt overwhelmed with the fact that it was so unlike what I had willingly left at home - pretty much a girlish, warm and comfy bedroom overflowing with memories of the past 17 years of my life.

It was a fresh start.  There was a blank slate in front of me for the first time in forever, and suddenly I was excited.  Nervous, but excited.  I could do this!  I could be the "new girl."  I could be anyone I wanted to be.

So I plugged in my little boom box, popped a Neil Diamond cassette in and promptly started setting up my space to the tune of one of his older live albums, Hot August Night.  As the familiar music played, I calmed down and breathed.  

Neil Diamond.  Who knew it was so dorky to know every word of every song?  It never occurred to me.  All I knew was that it was all that was ever really played at my house growing up.  Every year, or whenever the newest album would come out, we'd get it.  We'd open the lid of the massive wooden cabinet that housed the record player, and listen to the songs over and over again, shamelessly dancing on chairs in the living room, right in front of our big bay window.  Dorky?  Maybe.  But it was home.

To this day, whenever I catch a couple of bars of most any Neil Diamond tune, it makes me remember being a silly kid and being happy.  During that one huge scary part of my life, good old ND reminded me that I could be brave, that I could be OK - that I could still be happy and silly even though I was out of my element.

Incidentally,  after living in Colorado for just a short time, I met some really kind, accepting people.  I made some friends and one of them totally made fun of my secret Neil Diamond obsession, along with my very noticeable NY accent.  I believe the first time that he was in my room and I pressed PLAY on my little boom box, he was appalled to hear Neil Diamond.  I do have to credit that friend for introducing me to music that was actually off of the top 40 charts, for opening my mind up to some new-to-me music.  Cool, funky, awesome music that totally helped get me through the year away from home.

So I brought up this little story because I felt guilty for not mentioning Neil in my post last week about the 80's.  Cool 80's music aside, I'm putting it out there loud and proud, my first true music love was Neil Diamond.  You always remember your first love, right?

ps: I may or may not have seen Neil Diamond in several concerts over the years.


  1. Dude--you are one follower from 100! *high five* lol

    Totally dig Neil Diamond, sometimes he just has your back when the rest of the world is busy.

  2. Yea well we havent seen anything yet for Los Angeles but there is a big gap in Dates after the San Jose show.. so It may be Neil will annouce Dates for Los Angeles soon.We here In L..A. tickets prices aren’t crazy...Know Neil Never Forgets about His home Town Fans !

  3. I love Neil Diamond, too, and saw him in concert once. He was great, just like he sounded on those record albums decades ago. Good memories here, too. P.S. I can't believe you chose your SENIOR year to move somewhere else! Do you regret it?