I'm five or six years younger than Dawn and the other two girlfriends who accompanied us, so I was the one "ripe" for New Kids at the tender age of fourteen when I attended my first concert at the Indiana State Fair. The headliner was Tiffany, but it's safe to say that the boy band from Boston stole the show. I went on to see them two more times: once the following summer when they returned to the Indiana State Fair, this time with Tiffany as their opening act, then again at Market Square Arena in downtown Indy. I believe it was January 1990. I even have the photo evidence:
I'm in the back row, second from the left, and I'm quite certain my hair has never been more voluminous.
I was thinking about the fact that my father escorted my girlfriends and me to the three concerts back in the day. What a good sport! It might truly be the most selfless thing my father ever did for me. We don't talk anymore. It's been about a year since I've heard anything from him, and that was after he sent me an email telling me he vowed to do better at communicating with me. Oh well. I can look back on those 2 years of him attending concerts with me and my girlfriends and really feel appreciative. I hope I thanked him enough back in the day.
Secondly, since I have sons the same age that the New Kids were "back in the day," I tried to imagine what my life would be like if I were the mother of pop stars. At least three of the New Kids came from huge families. I mean the Wahlbergs had like a dozen kids or something. I really can't imagine what it would have been like for their parents or even for the teens themselves to grow up with that kind of life. The fact that they all seem like relatively well-adjusted adults now is pretty awesome, honestly.
And thirdly...probably most importantly, I thought about the innocence I lost between the first time I saw them and the second. At the time of the first concert, I was entering 9th grade, a pudgy nerd who hadn't really had a boyfriend. By the second concert, I was at the height of my eating disorder. I'd shed forty pounds and I'd lost my virginity — against my will — but nevertheless. But even then I didn't really understand "boys" or my sexuality. I was all swoony over these semi-fictional characters on a stage, and I didn't get that they were really the same as all the other young men in my life. Now they're grown up and have wives and kids of their own. They were mere mortals after all, who knew?
They say, and I've said so many times, that "you can never go home," but Sunday night was a strange opportunity to sit in the seat my fourteen-year-old self had once occupied. I was able to channel some of the exact thoughts I had twenty-seven years ago and to recognize how naive and childlike I still was at fourteen. From my vantage twenty-seven years ago, I would have never imagined that I'd grow up to get a masters in library science, to have three sons, to get married, divorced and remarried, move to the East Coast, or that I'd become a famous author.
Okay, so I'm still waiting for that last one to happen.