Since I first wrote Life on the Block years ago, a lot has changed. I didn’t really realize until recently how out of date the ending was. Every once in a while someone would comment (mostly on Twitter or Facebook) that they hope I get to meet the rest of the guys or something, and I’d realize it needs an update. Well, this is finally it! (Thanks to the personal story contest at Glamour magazine, I had to actually edit the thing & am motivated to set the record straight!)
This is likely to be a long post, but I promise it’ll be worth your while…some great stories!! Since my first reunion show in Vegas (Oct ’08 at Mandalay Bay), I’ve seen too many more reunion shows to count! I missed at least two in my area just before that first Vegas show, but not for lack of trying. Somehow, I missed the original onsale dates and tried to get them via eBay and the like, but to no avail at the last minute (and in at least one instance, I know for sure I could’ve gone but couldn’t get out of work). To make up for it, I got tickets to the San Diego & LA shows (Nokia, specifically) in November of ’08. Following that, I saw 2 1/2 shows (one was an afterparty with Joe, Jordan & Donnie at House of Blues LA) in Santa Barbara & LA in April ’09. Santa Barbara was perhaps my fave show – the first outdoor show since Magic Summer, and it was gorgeous and the floor was GA: I was in about the third row with my friend Tera & it was amazing. At the Palladium the next night, I got separated from my friends and (of course!) made new ones, Rachel and Dafna. As luck would have it, Dafna & I were both from the Bay Area, so she’s become a great friend.
By this point, my bestie (not what we’d call a diehard BH, but has always loved the guys, especially Jon) decided she couldn’t miss another show: she’d never been when we were kids. The next tour that came our way (Full Service) hit Concord, Ca, which is a fantastic place to see anyone. We got lucky: when you buy accessible seats, you’re stuck farther back than you’d like to be (often there isn’t any wheelchair seating up in the front, or there’s a general admission/standing-room-only area in the very front). But sometimes…sometimes your luck swings the other way and you wind up with front row seats – it all comes out “in the wash,” as they say. The first time this ever happened to us was the day we bought our front row seats to the New Kids in Concord. You can’t imagine our excitement! It was an absolutely amazing show and…then came the afterparty.
Donnie held a soiree that night at Infusion Lounge in SF. We were determined to go, but the place was crowded and we couldn’t really get to him or even see much of him. When creepy boys started trying to dance up on my girl (unfortunately, it happens all the time), we were ready to go. As were heading out, though, a sweet sister stopped us, determined to help us get to Donnie. (I’ll be honest, I’m certain it was because of the wheelchair, but the thing is…Cass is used to this. Sometimes, she’s discriminated against because of it. Other times, she gets special favors. Again, it all balances out.) This girl, Katee, managed to help us get all the way across the club to the velvet rope, where security let us into Donnie’s VIP area. There were several BHs watching that didn’t seem thrilled about the ease with which we’d pulled this off, but what are you gonna do? Because it was due to Cass that we were in the VIP in the first place, I hung back and let her talk to Donnie. I knew she loved him and thought it should be her moment. They talked for a few minutes, and took the cutest pic:
and then he turned to me. He went to hug me automatically, and then pulled back and gave me the weirdest look. I paused and just watched him, confused. He said, “oh, it’s you!” My response? “Excuse me?” I listened, stunned, as he told me, “I was watching you down there in the front row all night! You were having so much fun, I kept wanting to jump down and give you a hug!” I didn’t really have words to answer him, so I motioned for him to hug me, which he did. I did manage to tell him, “I have so much to say to you, but…I don’t know where I’d start.” He motioned to his right, saying, “why don’t you stay for a while, have a drink, I’ll be back.” We declined, because we didn’t want to monopolize his time with so many other BHs around, but he insisted, again pointing to his right, but this time it was more clear: “No, stay. Have a drink, hang out. I’ll be back.” When we realized he was pointing to his VIP table (with open bar), I looked at the table, and back to him and said, “yes, Mr. Wahlberg.” And that’s what we did. He didn’t ever come back, but we were thrilled with the face time he’d given us. So, once again I missed my chance to tell him how much he means to me, but a nightclub isn’t necessarily the most opportune place for a conversation like that anyway, right? Cute pic from the night, all the same:
(Like my “adopt-a-soldier” patch? There’s a huge “D Dub Soldier” stitched across the back of my army shirt.)
After Concord, my SoCal girlfriends called me to say they had an extra ticket for each of the two following shows (Irvine and Vegas). I was supposed to work both days, so I told them to try to sell their tix – I couldn’t work and drive or fly to either show. The day of the Irvine show, I did nothing all day but feel sorry for myself and the fact that I was missing them. I considered calling in sick and getting in the car, knowing if I did I could make it. Instead, I went to work. Only to find out that they didn’t need me. I rushed home and got on the internet to find a quick flight. I was determined to get there. It wasn’t meant to be. There wasn’t enough time to get to SFO (an hour and a half’s drive without traffic) in rush hour and to Irvine – I’d get there for encore. I sulked. The following day, I got out of work early and did the same thing, except this time there was time to get to SFO, and to Vegas in time for the show. I called the girls, told them I was coming, and raced to the airport. As I walked in, I heard them call my name over the loudspeaker. Like a fool, I tried to rush through security rather than to a white courtesy phone. The plane left without me. You can’t imagine my despair. My only comfort was that it made me a true soldier just to have tried. (And happily, I got a full refund!)
Dafna and I had been trying to plan another show together, but everything in our lives kept preventing it. When Casi-NO tour tickets went on sale, my SoCal girls and I got tickets (originally just one night). I asked Daf if she could go, but she had to stop bleeding money for the New Kids, which I understood. Two of my friends had a falling out, though, and when one backed out of going, I offered to see if I could sell the extra ticket to avoid the financial loss. My friends were grateful, and I called Dafna, who decided to go for another show. She was trying to decide between Vegas with me and Radio City Music Hall (to which she urged me to join her). While she was making up her mind, my friends reconciled. Dafna bought a ticket to RCMH and called to say she wanted to come to Vegas as well. When I explained what had happened, she bought a ticket anyway, and since it was general admission, asked me if I’d stay with her instead of my friends so she wouldn’t be alone. Since I felt we were all partly responsible for her going, and there were already at least 4 girls in our room at the Rio, I agreed to stay with her at the Palms – where the show was. When they added a second night, we (of course!) bought tickets to that as well, and then found a stellar deal on our hotel rate. We were set.
Just before our trip to Vegas, Donnie came to SF with Jimmy Marsh and Roscue Umali at Vessel. It didn’t matter that he only performed a song or two – it mattered that he was there. Even stranger, there weren’t a ton of girls there. It was perfect. We had a quick drink, enjoyed the whole set immensely, and managed to get the conversational equivalent of a high five with Dub. In a wildly optimistic gesture, I’d stuffed my Donnie huggable in my purse, as both my Jordan & Joe are autographed and I’ve always wanted to have a complete set. By the end of the night, I had three down, two to go! Next stop: Vegas, please!
Vegas was magical. Literally, someone or something was looking out for us. The Palms is basically three hotels in one, as there’s an original Palms Tower, the Fantasy Tower, and Palms Place. It just so happened, we were in the same locale as the New Kids – excellent! Now, I’m not the girl that goes wandering around the hotel looking for the guys, but in a huge place like this, it can’t hurt to be in close proximity – right? In truth, we never left the Palms once. How could we, when both shows were there and general admission? We felt it’d be silly to do much but stand around. Of course, we had to fight with security and convince them we weren’t lining up, because we weren’t supposed to, but how else do you get close? Both nights, it was worth it; the shows were amazing. After the first night, there was an afterparty at Rain. It was fun, and the DJ was fantastic, but it was crowded and my feet hurt (in my Chucks, no less! Imagine all the poor girls in heels). I was pretty sure I didn’t have much chance of getting to any of the guys that were there (Donnie, Jordan, and Joe with Barrett, though others might’ve been there at some point, too). Dafna and I had agreed ahead of time that it was okay for either of us to leave early if we so chose, so I took off and headed back to the room. I couldn’t decide whether I was more excited to wash off my makeup or get off my poor feet, but I washed my face, changed into my PJs, and crawled into bed. As I was checking my email and Twitter, Dafna texted me that she’d just bumped into Jordan downstairs. I knew it was too late for me to catch him, but she was pretty sure it meant Donnie was on his way. I threw my hair in a ponytail, changed into jeans, and pulled on a homemade hoodie. Hell, I didn’t even care enough to put on any makeup! As I came out of the elevator, I could see camera flashes. I stood where I was and watched the scene come toward me. Earl put his hand up as Dafna came to me. He said, “sorry, no more.” I honestly shrugged, because I’d survive. But Dafna really wanted a picture, so it didn’t surprise me that she earnestly said, “Donnie, one more? Please?” When I saw him hesitate for a second, I motioned to her to quickly give me her camera. I took a shot as quickly as I could and Donnie smiled at me, saying, “you gotta give me a hug for that!” I thought he meant for taking the picture for my friend, but I realized he was pointing to what I was wearing, and it was the first realization I had of what I’d thrown on:
It’s not something I made expecting the guys to see. I made it as a badge of honor, a shoutout to other BHs wherever they may notice it and me. I laughed at Donnie and he gave me a hug while I told him, “okay, but you should really read the back!” He spun me around and dragged his finger across my back as he read:
Then, he declared, “that’s gangsta shit! Wear it tomorrow!” Believe me, I had it with me for the entire duration of our trip.
The next morning, we caught Danny on his way back from the gym. Once again, I’d planned ahead and had the right huggable with me, so he signed him for me. (I have to say, though, I don’t think he needed to shame me about it…he said, “oh my God. The worst thing is when my girls play with these!” I was a little offended. I wanted to tell him that having it doesn’t equate to playing with it when you’re in your thirties, but I tried to let it go. I was, after all, happy to finally meet him.)
I know, it could be better, but…I’m just happy to have it!
On the last day in Vegas, we found Donnie as we were getting ready to check out. We were lucky because no other fans were around to see us where we stood. He stood and chatted with us for quite a while, insisting I needed to go with Dafna to NYC. I kept telling him I couldn’t afford it, he kept telling me, “just get there!!” When I sensed he was about ready to leave us, I looked at him and we locked eyes for a minute. I told him, in all sincerity, “I love you.” He smiled and said, “I love you too, baby.” I knew he meant it, and it was such an unforgettable moment. He left, telling me again to get to Radio City and “bring your hoodie!” I’d forgotten to give him my card (a business card with my info and the web address for the site, because it’s easier than trying to say all I feel in a few quick minutes), but I followed him, caught up to him, and gave it to him. It’s actually possible he’s read this site you’re reading, which is a feeling of accomplishment to me, even if it’s only a possibility.
After we checked out, we were having lunch at the Palms before we had to leave, both a bit disappointed at not getting to see Jon. Of course, he’s the most reclusive and therefore the hardest to get to, but I couldn’t imagine how I’d get to him if it wasn’t that weekend when we’d been lucky enough as to be in such close proximity to them the whole time. “I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” we agreed. And then…in walked Jon. Right into the restaurant we’d just sat down in. Dafna saw him first and just nudged me, a little shell-shocked. I figured it was now or never, and she didn’t look like she was going to speak up, so I said, “Jon? Would you mind if we stopped you for just a sec?” I put my hand up tentatively as though it would stop him if my words didn’t, but his reaction completely surprised me. He said, “sure, sweetheart,” and took my hand. I’ll never forget his unexpected warmth and sweetness. It’s not that I thought Jon wasn’t a sweet guy, it’s just that I expected him to be so much shier than he actually was. I guess it’s probably because we were alone, no one else was around, and we asked nicely. We treated Jon with respect and he was happy to oblige. I thanked him for being a part of the reunion and told him how much it meant to me, and then we left him to his friends. We couldn’t believe our good fortune – all five of my silly huggables are now signed!
(Jon signed the back of his, hence the inlay.)
Apparently, Radio City Music Hall was meant to be. I watched fares and hotel rates with Dafna, and when a round trip ticket from me to Newark & back popped up at $240 (the lowest I can remember seeing in at least five years), I snatched it and called it my graduation present to myself. Because RCMH shows were assigned seating rather than GA, we were free to play in NYC. We didn’t waste much time hanging out at the venue, because we’re both huge fans of Manhattan and there was too much to see, do, and eat! We never did get to see or talk to the guys, but we went to two of the three shows (June 18 & 19) and they were fantastic. I hope they’re not the last shows I’ll have ever seen, but if they are – they were perfect. That night we ran into Trisha, whom we’d met briefly at the afterparty at Rain in Vegas. Though I have to say, I had a hard time seeing my hero cry:
Thank you, Joe, for not visibly shedding tears onstage. I would’ve been the little piggy who went ‘wah, wah, wah’ alllllll the way home. This night (6/19/10) felt monumental to me, and not because the Backstreet Boys were a special guest. I’ll never forget it.
So…what’s next? Well, in May of 2009, I couldn’t set sail with my five brothers or two thousand sisters, thanks to finals. In May of 2010, this was true because I was graduating. And now? I’m not messing around! I’ve got my BA and I’m ready to get down to business! I’m on the boat and can’t wait! My girls Jen & Tera both had to back out for financial reasons, so I met new roomies on Twitter and will be sailing with Michelle and Donna instead! See you in Miami, trick!