Fourteen years ago, almost to the day, a 17 year old me had a bad cold and was staying home from school. I was not however, actually staying home. Instead, my stuffy nose went into the city with my best friends to see the Backstreet Boys perform outside for the CBS morning program, The Early Show. With nothing but my mittens, coat and undying love for five men I’d never met to keep me warm, I sang and cried my heart out, as only a teenager could do. Fast forward to just a week ago and you’d find a now 31 year old me, sitting in the House of Blues in Houston singing along to former boy-banders, Nick Carter and Jordan Knight. I wasn’t with my girlfriends though, crying at the sheer beauty dancing in front of me, this time I sat next to my husband, who really didn’t want to be there. And as I sang along to the songs that stole my heart in the 90s I couldn’t help but think about how much has never, and probably will never, change.
Not too long ago I had discovered several of my old journals and reflected on how much I had changed since first penning those words. And it was true, a lot had changed; I grew up, circumstances got better. Last week, though, as I sat in a theater full of women like me, screaming at the men we once loved as boys, I realized that not everything in life changes. We grow older, perhaps wiser, that is up for debate, but we retain habits and likes. Now in my 30s, one would think that boy bands and standing in line for concerts would be a thing of the past, but in just this past year alone, I’ve seen Britney Spears performing in Vegas (amazing), the Backstreet Boys (all five) on their world tour, purchased a new Bush album (remember Glycerine?) and still am as obsessed with Gwen Stefani as I was when MTV still played music videos.
Perhaps I’m just lucky that the artists I loved as a teenager are still making music, but I’m pretty sure the giddy girl in me will never die. Listening to music and going to concerts have always been a huge part of who I am. Like writing, I found a release in music and the stories it could tell me. Going the extra mile to make sure I see my favorites in person is something that has not dulled over time. I have actually scheduled vacation time around concerts and like events. It’s almost a sickness, but I love it.
When I was in college studying journalism, I had the hardest time when it came to investigative reporting. I hated it. My assignment was a head official of the school and I was to find out some dirt on him and create a story for the school paper. I kid you not. But I was not an aspiring Olivia Pope. It felt awkward and wrong to dig into someone just to find something juicy to write about. It was my first academic failure and it was crushing because I was the girl who strived for nothing but the best and then some. My professor scolded me. She said that if I could take just an ounce of the interest and talent I had when writing feature articles or covering concerts, I would be great. I knew in that moment that I was not going to be a hard-hitting investigative reporter. I also knew I was really looking forward to seeing No Doubt in a few weeks.
So as I look forward to my next concert, former N’Sync crooner, Justin Timberlake (eek!!), I will remember that young girl who would cry at the sound of an acapella boy band tune and hold her close to my heart. She experienced moments and silliness that will keep me young forever. She exists to remind me to continue having fun, to keep up with my favorites and remember those sweet dance moves.
As the great and wise Jon Bon Jovi has said, “I’m not old, just older.” And you best believe when he comes to town, I will be there.