I am a firm believer that we all need to have a happy place. Something in life that brings us peace, calms our soul, & renews our spirt. For me this place of pure bliss happens at New Kids on the Block events (concerts, cruises, whatever else those guys decide to get up to). It sounds ridiculous if you aren’t from what I call “New Kid Land”. To those that aren’t lucky enough to live in this magical world full of boybands (well only one), singing, dancing, love, and confetti (so much confetti) let me give you a glimpse into the madness. You won’t need a helmet for this trip but I do suggest comfortable shoes & some glitter eyeliner.
I remember the moment NKOTB entered my life, Christmas 1988, I was almost 7. My older sister got the “Hangin Tough” album (on cassette tape because we are old) for Christmas from family friends (shout out to the Gates family). We listened to the tape that night, I remember staring at the album cover & the insert. There was an immediate spark lit within my tiny body six year old body. Soon that spark would be a full blown Fourth of July firework show that happened inside me with the mere mention of the Five Bad Brothers from the Beantown Land (yes, I typed that and yes it is completely ridiculous). I was just like every other girl in the late 80s & early 90s, if it had a New Kid’s face on it, I wanted it. My best friend (Vickie) and I became even closer as we bonded over our love of NKOTB. I was a Jordan girl from the start, she started as a Joe girl but at some point switched to Donnie (every Blockhead must declare a favorite, it’s New Kid law).
The Christmas of 1990 was another magical one when Santa Claus brought me the new Step by Step album & a little red boom box to play it. By this time I was 8 (almost 9) and NKOTB had completely stolen my heart. I had the poster pictured above pinned on the wall right next to my bed. Every night I kissed each boy goodnight (saving Jordan for last) and slept curled up right up next to it. I also refused to dress or undress in my room opting to do so either in my closet or the bathroom so they couldn’t see me but I’m just sharing that for the comedy factor. Thinking back on those years New Kids on the Block provided so many happy memories. There was dance routines to “The Right Stuff” with my cousins that we performed for our parents against their will. Waiting on baited breath for every television appearance, sitting inches from the tv as if it would make them closer. Watching the Hangin’ Tough Live video for the first time at my bestie’s house with her parents in the room and blushing. That time Joe married The Little Mermaid…wait that was Vickie & I playing Barbies that never actually happened.
During all of that happy there was also some dark. NKOTB became more than a silly boyband, they became my security blanket. Forgive me for not going into details, I’m still (and probably never will be) not comfortable sharing my demons*. Let’s just say my demons are big, that I’ve seen some things in my life, and people suck. During those years when New Kids were at the top of the world a little girl in Mid-Missouri kissed her poster and prayed every single night that those 5 boys would come and rescue her. While they never did physically show up they did save me. They saved me by giving me a place to escape to. Something to get lost in.
By 1992/93 it was no longer cool to like New Kids on the Block. They became a joke and if you openly liked them at school so did you. I didn’t care. They were my boys. In 1994 they released another album, this one was edgier, there were ashtrays full of cigarette butts in the pictures on the album insert, they said the word ‘damn’ in one of the songs (gasp). I was 12, I was mature now, they were so cool with their cigarettes and mild curse word. I watched the movie “Free Willy” repeatedly because it featured a song from their new album. The reinvention was short lived though. Soon Jon quit the band under the the biggest lie in music history that he fell off a horse and injured himself somehow. The others went on for a short while without him but then they just faded into oblivion. This was before the internet (again because we are all old) so there was not social media telling us what they were up to several times a day. They were just gone. I kept my security New Kids though. They never left my walls. They couldn’t, I needed them. During these years what is probably one of my biggest demons entered my life, I needed those boys to hold me up. Even though they did not know they were doing it, they did.
Now I’m going to skip ahead because this is already really long and there’s a lot to go. To summarize the 15 years I’m jumping over: Jordan & Joe get themselves solo careers, Donnie is in movies, Danny is behind that catchy LFO song, Jon has anxiety on Oprah and has an emu farm. I grow up get married, have a baby, get divorced, get married again, more babies, all while acquiring demon after demon (my life is basically always one tragedy to the next) but I still always held on to my NK security squad.
Now it is spring 2008, I am 26, I’m eight months pregnant with my third (and last) baby & I am just not in a good place. That place was Little Rock, AR (ha! See what I did there). There is something brewing. Rumors begin to circulate, excitement starts to build, then there is a big box on the Today show. Out of that box walks those five magical boys from Boston. My world is turned upside down in the best way. A few weeks later when they performed on the show I watched laying in my bed holding my newborn baby girl.
November 2008, Vickie and I drive from Kansas to Denver for our first ever New Kids on the Block concert. Not only did we have concert tickets but we had VIP passes which means we got to meet NKOTB. It was probably the best night of my life. Everything changed. I had something that brought me to life again; Not the mom me, not the person in a troubled marriage me, not the victim (I hate that word) me, not the person with depression and anxiety me, not the trying to be what everyone else wants but failing miserably me, just ME. I started to find myself back after years of losing myself in everything else.
NKOTB have inspired me to do things that I never imagined I’d accomplish. They did not personally hold my hand along the way but if not for them I wouldn’t have a Master’s degree. Going to their shows made me finally realize what I wanted to be when I grow up & gave me the courage to go after it. They inspired me to lose the baby weight, not just from the last baby but the one before that too. No, Danny wasn’t my personal trainer, but one wants to look their best when in the presence of Jordan. They made me realize that it’s ok to dream big. They made it ok to be ridiculous again. They made it ok to sing and dance again. They gave me the courage to not just lay down and die. All of this while still being my safe place.
The absolute best thing that they have done for me is introducing me to some of the best people on the planet. People I would have never met if not for New Kids. Over the last 10 years I have collected new friends at concerts, the cruise, VIP holding rooms, & on social media. These people have become some of my closest friends, the kind of people who actually call, text, send you a message, or even snail mail just to send you some love. I even have this blog because of a person I met because of New Kids. I am alive because these people. I thank god that I have met these beautiful women (and the occasional man) every day. I went through most of my life not really fitting in anywhere. I fit in here. I am accepted, loved, and I love back here. I am now going to post way more pictures than necessary, scroll through them for more words.
Now of course there are those jerks that think I’m terrible for following a boyband around. This used to bother me. I really just don’t care anymore. If you don’t like it write me a letter, put it in an envelope, and shove it up your ass. Here is an actual quote from my husband’s aunt on me going to see New Kids on the Block: “I can’t believe you let her do that”. If you only you knew my life lady, then you can talk. I don’t judge what makes anyone else happy so I don’t think it is anybody’s business on what I do to leave the world behind. Another lesson from NKOTB, in the the wise words of Donnie Wahlberg: “I deserve this shit”. I have fought so hard to survive life, I have fought to be where I am in life (still fighting, I want to go so much farther), it only seems fitting that I have to fight to be in my happy place & to hold on to my security blanket.
I could go on forever about New Kids on the Block, what they are to me, what they’ve done for me, and the personal experiences I’ve had with them. I am not obsessed, however, I am dedicated. These five men though they don’t know me (they’ve met me many times but they more than likely don’t remember) they have saved me. If I did not grab onto them when I was 6 years old who knows what I would have found to help me make it through hell. They are my safe place, my security blanket, & my happy place. I wish that everyone had something like this save them, to lose themselves in. Find what makes you happy and chase it. You will never regret it.
*I started writing this in May before my last blog post. If you want to know about the demons please read my previous post “Demons don’t Sparkle”.