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The day New York fulfilled my dream

Saturday, September 30th, PlayStation Theater, Times Square, New York City, United States. 

It was no later than 8:20 pm when the Hanson brothers took the stage and started the concert, playing and singing. As the music rolled and the people sang and screamed together, a movie began to play in my head. I went back in time, and suddenly I was reliving all the memories from when I was a teenager. As I was watching the show and had assimilated that this was happening, I thought of everything I had lived until I got there.

I was very passionate about my idols – aren’t all teenagers that way? From a little girl who had loved Xuxa (a Kids TV Host, very famous in Brazil), who also had collected all the possible pictures of her, had tried to have all the cassettes and had watched all her TV shows, I became a teenager that read teen magazines. I don’t remember how or when I first heard about Hanson – whether through the magazines or the radio station I used to listen to. The fact is that when those boys became famous with the hit Mmmbop, they also got my heart. At that time, it had seemed most of the girls preferred the Backstreet Boys, but I was loyal to these three guys. However, when you live in a small town – and you depend on your Avon representative sales fee (I was precocious!) – the resources to satisfy your needs as a fan are little. First, I discovered that my classmate had a Hanson CD. An original one, with the album notes – I was obsessed with album notes. It didn’t take a while for me to borrow it from him. I’d probably kept that CD for months, and I’d even told my friend that he should have given it to me. A frustrating attempt, of course. I had to be happy with a copy. That was how I had access to music at that time – I had to use the magazines and my not-so-good ear to find the songs’ names and order a personalized CD with my favorites. Then my father would ask a friend of his to put all the songs on a customized CD. I would have had a new CD recorded every week if I could have, but my father handled that. Anyway. Then I discovered that another classmate had another Hanson CD, Live from Albertane, a live concert recorded in Seattle. I listened, I got addicted, and I made a copy.

In the 2000s, Hanson released a new album, This Time Around. They were back – and they were more handsome – in video clips that I’d watched and recorded using our VHS recorder. One day, a TV channel in Brazil announced that it would feature a Hanson concert on a Saturday night. I freaked out. But it was summer, and we used to go to my grandfather’s beach house, where the TV signal barely worked. I begged my mother to let me stay at home, to watch and record the show. She didn’t allow me, and I had to schedule the VHS recorder.

Also, at this time, I had decided that I wanted to buy the new Hanson CD. The original one, obviously. When you love your idols so much, it’s no fun making copies or buying the pirated version. In my town, there were no shops to buy CDs. During one of my dentist visits – which was in a nearby city – I asked my mother to stop at a store and look for the CD. We found it. I paid a lot of money for that CD. However, it was one of the best investments of my adolescence. I still remember my satisfaction when I put my hands on that CD. I believe it is still at my mother’s house, amidst some of the objects left behind with my move to New York.

Because of Hanson, I practiced and improved my English skills. The internet was still slow – and I only got access to it when I moved to another city for college purposes – and I was grateful when my favorite magazine would bring lyrics and translations of some songs I knew. But I wanted more. I wanted to learn and understand what they’d said in more songs. I’ve spent many afternoons sitting on the floor and using my bed as a table to translate – word for word – each of my favorite songs. I had a dictionary in one hand and a paper and pen in another hand. Many of the translations didn’t make sense, but it was incredible to give at least some meaning to those English lyrics. I don’t remember what I used to do with the translations after I finished them – but it was always a pleasure to take care of those tasks that I’d created for myself.

My love for Hanson has also connected me to someone who became one of my best friends later in life. My favorite magazine had a section for exchanging idol materials (pictures, posters, etc.). It was like this: “Mary, from city X, has some Hanson materials, and she is looking for Backstreet Boys photos in exchange.” And I ended up writing a letter to one of those girls. Can you imagine? Letters! I sent that letter, and a few weeks later, the answer arrived: she had no more pictures to exchange. But she sent me a chain letter. Yes, chains are not exclusive to WhatsApp groups. They probably originated in a very distant world, where people had decided to believe that something forwarded 340,408,585 times could become reality. Anyway, that chain had good intentions. It was a list of names and addresses; you had to send a card to the first person on the list – removing her name – and including yours at the bottom of the list. Then you would send the chain to other people, and very soon, you would get 30 cards. To this day, I don’t know why I got excited about receiving 30 cards from strangers, but I ended up following the chain, and I sent a card to the first girl on the list. Her name was Jaqueline. It was not long before she answered me and told me about her Brazilian idols. I answered her back. She answered me back too. And it was like that for a couple of years until the friendship had changed to the virtual world and then to the real world. There is a box of letters from her in my mother’s house. I visited her in Londrina, Paraná, where she once lived; she also went to Santa Catarina for my graduation. We both have been on a bus for 12 hours to visit each other. Today she lives in London and continues to be in my life – I was there in June. Isn’t it crazy? But it all happened because of Hanson.

In the 2000s, Hanson was in Brazil for a tour, and one of the concerts would take place in Porto Alegre, the closest city to me. Well, not so close… I remember the show would be during the week, I don’t remember very well which day. I just remember that I got crazy; I wanted to go so bad. I don’t know what my mother’s explanation was, but she made it clear that no, it was not going to happen. Camila, my best friend at that time, had created a miraculous plan. Her father, a truck driver, had several drivers. She was already planning everything with her adventurous spirit: we would go to Porto Alegre by truck with one of her father’s driver friends. I remember her effort to fulfill my dream – yes, she was not even a fan, but she would go on the adventure with me. Needless to say that her father cut our idea down, right?

After that, I had totally lost my hopes. In Brazil, when you are not close to a big city, it is complicated to have a chance to see the musicians you admire. I don’t know if I’d had this exact thought, but in my mind, that would be my only and last chance. I wouldn’t ever have an opportunity to fulfill my dream. It was a fact: I would never see Hanson in my life. 

When I remembered all this on that Saturday, September 30th, at the moment I saw them in front of me – and so close – I cried. I cried most purely and honestly, without holding, without caring. I cried for having achieved the dream of that 13 year old girl. I cried, remembering all the cool-and not-so-cool-stuff that happened when I was a teenager. I cried for being happy and excited and realizing how New York fulfilled many dreams of my life. You see, I have problems and issues in my life. Many people may think that I live a fairy tale, but I also deal with many frustrations and many boundaries – that I can not speak at this time. I don’t know if I will get everything I want. Sometimes I get angry about New York. But, perhaps, New York has not happened in my life to fulfill every one of my goals. Maybe New York happened so I could make other dreams come true. The dream of  getting to see the idols from my adolescence (not just Hanson), of studying the language I’ve always loved, of getting to see the places I’ve always dreamed of … Suddenly, Taylor Hanson interrupted my thoughts and announced the next song.

“I was born to do something no one’s ever done, no one’s ever done before. I was born to go somewhere no one’s ever gone, no one’s ever gone before. I was born to be someone no one’s ever been, no one’s ever been before”.

 

At that moment, I texted my mom and thanked her for everything she had done for me. I jumped, I sang, I cried. And it felt so good. 

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