Growing up, my family and I moved to Connecticut when I was 13, but prior to that, my “formative” years were spent in Central Jersey. So at the core, I’m a Jersey guy. I mean, I don’t get goosebumps thinking about the differences between the Firebird Formula and the Trans Am, nor do I reminisce (in great detail) about the impact Z Cavaricci and Jordache had on my adolescent upbringing. However, there are certain things that cut to my core: a run on the boardwalk at the shore, real Jersey pizza, deli and bagels, speaking Portuguese in the Ironbound, and Bon Jovi.
I’m not too proud to admit it…I have seen Bon Jovi three times live, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The boys from Sayreville and their quintessential anthem rock invoke my inner Jersey boy like nobody’s business. They have been a part of every psych-up tape, girlfriend and wife mix that I have ever made.
One of my favorite memories with my oldest son, “Ben” at 2 years old was his singing, “It’s my Life” while I pushed him in the swing at the playground. While the other parents sang “Wheels on the Bus” and Barney ditties, my kid was singing JBJ. I am a proud Papa. Needless to say, now that Ben is 10 and Guitar Hero has become all the rage in my house, all three of my kids have continued to expand their library of Bon Jovi knowledge and learned Livin’ on a Prayer.
It took me a bit by surprise the first time we were all in the car and Livin’ on a Prayer came on the radio and the kids all said, “We love this song.” Again, pride! The next time it came on the radio, I was prepared. I rolled down all of the windows, blasted the music as loud as we all could take (meaning me), and we all sang at the top of our lungs. A faint tear appeared as my soul opened wide. Belting out Bon Jovi with my kids…could it get any better than that?
Sure, I could make some social commentary as my family and I prepare to move to our 9th home in almost as many years and as the economy continues to suffer that we are all Livin’ on a Prayer, but no- this is not about that. This is about something far more primal. This is about loud music and singing from the heart. This is about connecting with my kids in a surprising way with something that invokes many, many memories but offers the promise that in this connection with my kids, is the foundation for all that I need. “We got each other and that’s a lot….”