Please don’t go guuuuuurl!

As is the custom of my people, we gathered to pay homage to the teenyboppers of our youth.

That’s right, people. I saw New Kids on the Block in concert. Me and every other woman aged 38-46 in the metro area.

It was NKOTB, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Salt-n-Pepa, and Naughty by Nature. Those last two were more of a college vibe for me. But my inner 13-year-old girl lost her damned mind at the first three performers.

I went with a group of girlfriends. We didn’t grow up together, but as soon as we were in that arena, we were united by our shared memories and experiences. Oh, you were an awkward teenager filled with yearning? Me too! And you had no real idea what you were yearning for, but you lived and died by the radio? Oh, yes.

That inner 13-year-old girl showed herself to be alive and well. I was transported back to those times that were both carefree and filled with angst. The music made me relive the hoping and the joy, the apprehension of being 13.

And I thought of my sweet friend who was in the thick of those 13-year-old hormones with me. We listened to her mom’s record of the original “I think we’re alone now” on repeat. The radio only played Tiffany’s cover once every 45 minutes, and that clearly wasn’t often enough.

We discussed the merits of each of the NKOTB boys. We did our fair share of lip syncing to Debbie Gibson using a “microphone” fashioned out of a paper towel roll, a tennis ball, and aluminum foil. I’m pretty sure we developed dance routines, too.

And then she moved away. And I was … I was just so sad.

I’ve had some of that muscle memory lately. A dear, beloved friend is moving away now. It’s a good thing for her and her family and for that I am thankful. But … I’m just sad.

It’s not often you find an adult friend who can make you laugh and gossip and sink into a couch like you’re 13. I’m lucky.

And I’m humbled.

We are cumulative. I’m still that awkward 13-year-old, even if my outward body isn’t currently sporting braces and a truly regrettable perm. And I’m the 43-year-old who might look like she has it together, but who is really just bolstered by the good, good people in my world. And music of questionable taste.

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