6. Radio City weekend: Radio City weekend was like the cruise, but on land. Thousands of BHs converged on one place for three days of New Kids madness. And I almost didn't go to the Thursday show. What was I thinking? Could I really have been sitting at home, an hour away, with nothing pressing to do while there was a NKOTB show going on? Thankfully I wised up.
Thursday I met Amy at Radio City and once in our seats we adopted Lisa, who had come from Scotland by herself for the three shows. When the lights went down and the video screens flickered to life, I got goosebumps. Tears started to flow before the curtain rose. And when we could see smoke and "NKOTB" appear in lasers just like the 2008 tour opener, I had chills from head to feet. The rush of the past two years came back at once.
Since I'm naturally impatient, I typically spoil myself on any concert surprises, but I had no idea Naughty by Nature was going to walk out on stage. It almost made me want to give up trying to find things out ahead of time. Almost.
Friday all of my lovely friends arrived in town. Amazingly they trusted me as our tour guide despite my track record of getting lost within three miles of my own house. That's love. The concerts were of course incredible (and extremely emotional), but it was just as good to have us all together again, and bittersweet since we don't know when we will meet next.
5. Cruise 2009: I would compare Cruise 2009 to being in Candyland. (Or, if you don't like candy, some other fantasy fairytale location. Rum Runner land?) I was in awe of everything around me, from the banners in the atrium to the daily newsletters. Since we didn't know what to expect, everything was a bonus. When we saw a New Kid around the ship or when they appeared at the deck parties, we could hardly believe our luck. I got on the boat knowing only a handful of friends, and by the time we got back to Miami, that number had grown exponentially.
4. Cruise 2010: If anything can beat three days of sun and palm trees with New Kids, it's four days of sun and palm tress with New Kids. Cruise 2010 ranks above 2009 for the no lines, day on the beach, better deck parties, and 10 times the amount of Jon singing. The biggest difference between 2009 and 2010 was that this year, it felt like everyone on the boat was friends. We were all more relaxed, including the guys we were all there to see. I can't imagine Joe's piano singalong happening in 2009. But this year, it fit the vibe, and I soaked up every minute of it.
3. July 26, 2008 CD Preview Party: Back in June 2008, when I was constantly listening to the radio to hear Summertime several times per day, I'd hear this commercial along with it.
As soon as I had heard it, I was on a mission. I have never been so determined to win a contest in my life. I entered on four local stations and then every national station I could find, knowing full well being out of their listening area made me ineligible. Those stations only allowed one entry, but XM allowed unlimited entries, so long as you hand wrote all your information on a 3x5 index card and then hand wrote the (six-line long) address and your return address on individual envelopes. I did that. 107 times.
On July 17, I was sitting at my desk at work around 6:00 p.m. when I got an email from Clear Channel telling me I was a finalist. Shaking, I got my phone out to call and tell my cousin and saw I had three missed calls from a New York area code. A little bell went off in my head, telling me that was the Z100 promotions number (which I knew since I called them more than once trying to find out when they would draw the winner). I immediately hit redial and the woman who emailed me answered and screamed YOU WON!
So there I am, at my cube, screaming and crying and laughing uncontrollably all at the same time. She was trying to tell me what the prize was and I couldn't hear a word of it. People started coming out of their offices and from the other side of the building to see what was going on. The guy who sat in the office across from me said he had never seen anyone so happy at work.
I called my cousin Nickole, who lives 400 miles away in my hometown, because she and I grew up New Kids together. I said, "Where are you?" She said, "Driving." I said, "Don't drive off the road because I won the New Kids trip to LA!" Then we both screamed some more. It's been almost two years and I still can hardly believe I won.
A week later I was on a plane on my way out to LA. This was the day I met Malina and several other BHs I still talk to.
The day of the party, Nickole and I couldn't eat, hadn't slept, and had a hard time saying more than five words in a row to each other without shrieking. None of the winners had any idea what to expect. I was picturing sitting at tables in a dark room while someone pushed play on the CD. In reality, there were less than 150 people in a small rehearsal studio and I was standing not even 10 feet from the NKs while they were on stage. They sang, they joked, they danced, they surveyed our opinions on "This One's For the Children." During Summertime, Donnie sang to me in my strapless sundress. Seriously, this happened!
Then if that wasn't enough, we got to meet and talk to all the guys in small groups. This is the first time I met any of them other than Joe, but I still went to him first. The first thing Danny said to us was that his balls were sweaty. Donnie hugged me and kissed me and hugged me and kissed me and made it clear he was planning to convert a lot of girls come fall. Jon and Jordan did what they do best: looked gorgeous. And just when I thought it was over, they called us back in the room to get one on one photos. The new album hadn't even come out yet, and all of my New Kids dreams had come true.
(My rarely seen "other" photo, taken when Danny was trying to put my hand on Joe's ass.)
Sidenote: Tara, the girl who won from XM, had entered only once.
2. December 20, 2009 House of Blues: House of Blues almost didn't happen. A Nor'easter was threatening the entire east coast, canceling flights, closing roads, and generally wrecking havoc. But Blockheads with plans to see NKs are hard to stop, even if it means leaving a day early or taking 3 a.m. trains to get to Boston.
What catapults HOB to #2 on the list was the weekend as a whole, from walking through the blizzard to Shaw's at 1 a.m. to arriving at the after party so late Donnie was ready to leave.
Within a 24 hour period, I/we:
- Walked into Hard Rock Cafe, saw flashes, and found out Donnie was there hugging everyone
- Met Andrea and then shared a bed with her, from which we tweeted each other at 6 a.m.
- Carried 38 cardboard boxes through Lord and Taylor while I looked for a headband that wasn't $34
- Almost tripped over Donnie's piano bench before realizing the song he was playing was "I Need You" (Why? I have no idea.)
- Were surrounded by tinsel
- Were present for several "very serious messages"
- Wrapped those 38 boxes with only one paper cutter between us
- Heard both Jordan and Joe sing O Holy Night
- Ran into Ricky Bell and Johnny Gill
- Were attacked with run-by huggings from Donnie
- Heard Coming Home performed for the first time
- Saw several Christmas songs performed live, Jordan dressed as Santa, and the reappearance of Joe's gold sequined jacket
- Watched Andrea dance with Jordan on stage (It's magic!)
- Got the Full Service treatment with special guests New Edition (the ones who made it through the blizzard at least)
- Got pics with each New Kid except Jordan, because I didn't want the flash to hurt his eyes
- Found out Kevin was under the impression Elizabeth was 6'4"
- Saw Joe, who not only knew who I was but immediately said "I still have your letter and think about your good ideas." (Me: "What letter?" Sigh.)
- Amazed ourselves by leaving for the after party at 1 a.m., a time when we were usually sound asleep
- Got hammered on one $11 drink at the after party
- Stayed up all night laughing and looking at our photos
And now you know why the four of us refer to HOB as the "Best! Day! Ever!"
1. Getting to know my million sisters. The reason I have this blog, the reason why cruise 2010 was better than 2009, the reason why these memories are as good as they are is because I have shared these past two years with you. There's not one thing on this list I experienced without you, from the day of the May 2008 Today Show when I sent my first tweet to when the curtain closed at Radio City Saturday night. The kindness I have been shown by BHs is incredible. Nothing beats meeting someone in person when it feels like you already know everything about each other. People I've never met have asked me to share their fan passes for the Today Show, given me copies of rare mp3s, and sent me their vintage Joe posters because I'd lost mine.
The most generous kindess is what I was shown last summer, at the end of my mother's illness. In those dark weeks and months, I had a place to go to forget reality and smile. And during my worst times, I felt real love from a group of strangers who shared nothing with me but an affinity for the same band. For that, I cannot thank you enough.
The friends I have made in these last two years are now among the closest I have. They're the people I tell my secrets to. When they're happy I feel their joy and I cry with them when things get bad. If all of this were to end tomorrow, we'd still be a million sisters. You all have a special place in my heart.
Addendum: Thank you Jared : )