I spent this past weekend in Boston with my friends, New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, and Fenway Park. What can I say? I’m made to live in New England – specifically a city like Boston or Portland. Everything about it fits me like a glove, even though I was rather cold in June. Living in the South on and off for the last twelve years has thinned my blood but I would much rather be cold than hot. I walked – okay, rolled – from Fenway Park to the Buckminster Hotel in the cold and rain and I was still more comfortable in those conditions than I was coming home from the airport in sweltering Atlanta heat. I also found out that my lack of ability to tolerate my usual pain is directly connected to the heat. I didn’t need as many painkillers up in New England. I really want to live there.
But I digress. Back to my trip.
I was supposed to land on Thursday night at 7:30 and then head over to Quincy Market with Abbie (abbielicious613 on Twitter) but bad weather in Boston delayed my flight by two hours. I flew by myself this time, which is something I don’t do very often, so being stuck in the airport by myself like that was intimidating. You have to understand that I almost never even leave my house without a companion, so flying to Boston alone is something that stressed me out for weeks before I did it. I’m not a great flyer either. I have an anxiety disorder and I get motion sickness in the air. Some people think I shouldn’t fly but I’m stubborn and I refuse to live my life from home like an invalid. I’m smart enough to know that my anxiety disorder is just in my head and I can soldier through it with distractions and medication. I did better than I expected with the bad weather. My flight attendant turned on the movie Country Strong to distract me from the turbulence and focusing on one thing helped control my motion sickness and fear. By the time I landed at 9:30, it was too late to go to Quincy Market, so Abbie and I ate at the sushi bar inside the Hotel Buckminster, which was excellent!
|Just before I left for Boston.|
|Hotel Buckminster lobby.|
Most people saw me tweeting about it late that first night after we were in bed but the Buckminster is haunted. I’m not even joking. We went to bed after midnight and Abbie dropped right off to sleep. The room was divided into two bedrooms and a bathroom, so there was an empty bedroom because Allison (AllieDub617 on Twitter) wasn’t due in until the next day. I take forever to go to sleep, so I was lying in bed staring at the hallway, and I heard muffled phonograph music coming from the next room. There was nobody in the room though. I lifted my head from the pillow to see if I was hearing things but it didn’t stop and our bedroom door suddenly pulled closed about a foot and swung back open again. Abbie slept through the whole incident but she had told me beforehand that she thought we had spirit friends in the other bedroom. She’s from Louisiana and now lives in a part of Tennessee heavily involved in the Civil War, so she’s very used to things like that happening and it doesn’t bother her. It doesn’t bother me either.
The next day we started off by taking a stroll around the block of Fenway Park just to have a look at it. Some of the NKOTBSB buses were already there and as we were leaving the block, three or four more buses drove right by us. I tried peeking inside but there was always a glare on the windows. I have no idea who was in them. It was exciting though. I’m not a baseball fan but I can relate to Fenway on a historical level and I said to Abbie, “I can’t believe we’re walking around Fenway.” She witnessed my nature to be a statue whore and I had to read all the plaques, banners and markers. I’m a history nerd. It’s compulsive!
|My first Boston cream pie.|
We then took a ride over to Quincy Market for lunch and a bit of shopping. The ride over there was just as entertaining for me than being there. I completely fell in love with all of the old buildings in the area around Boston Common and how everything looked like it could have been a historical landmark. I got to ride around Beacon Street, Arlington Street, Commonwealth Avenue, Boylston Street, Tremont Street, etc., to see the part of the city that is a major setting in my current novel-in-progress. I was not thrilled with the ugly financial district on Tremont Street though. That area used to have big rowhouses, shops and the Boston Museum in the nineteenth century. Now it’s all offices where the old stuff stood. We passed the back of Boston Common on the way and I shrieked in the car because I spotted the 54th Massachusetts monument. If you’ve seen the movie Glory then you know what it is. Walking around Quincy Market and the vicinity was so much fun for me with all the historical buildings and the men in colonial and Revolutionary War costumes shouting history on the street corners. Abbie grinned at me and I said, “I think I’ve found my home.” We split a lunch of a lobster roll and lobster macaroni. After we picked up Allison from the airport, we went back to indulge in Boston cream pies (pictured at left).
I didn’t get pictures of the places I saw, so I had to raid Google Images.
|Old Massachusetts State House.|
|54th Massachusetts monument in Boston Common.|
That night, we left the city to head out for dinner at Alma Nove because it was a joint celebration of Abbie and Allison’s birthdays. Donnie’s brother, Paul, owns the restaurant if you don’t know already. There were a lot of other blockheads there that night too and some of them were like, “Hey JJ, I follow you on Twitter!” I get that a lot everywhere I go and I feel so bad when I don’t connect faces with names. The food at Alma Nove was just stunning, all Wahlberg connections aside. I had a soft shell crab dish for my appetizer and then I had a lobster linguini dish for my main course. I ate myself fat, y’all. They brought out free birthday desserts for the girls and then Paul came out to say hello to us. I found him to be very sweet and cuddly. He looks a lot like Donnie too but a little shorter. I kind of have a crush on him!
|Abbie and me at Donnie’s party.|
After dinner, we went to a club on Tremont Street for a party thrown by Donnie Wahlberg. We had VIP and that was cool but Donnie never came back there. We ended up joining general admission to watch him on stage from the back of the club. It was louder and hotter in VIP than it was in general admission. Every time I go to a club, I remember that it really isn’t my thing, but sometimes I go to Donnie’s parties to support him. He told his security at the I Got It party a few years ago that I’m “one of the most loyal fans” so – in a way – I feel like I need to support him and the guys when it’s possible. He has always been wonderful, gracious, loving and kind to me. I want to be those things in return.
A lot of people were crowding the stage trying to get to him, which I guess is to be expected. I didn’t get to see him up close but I could tell he was thoroughly exhausted and I didn’t want to be a pest, so I went about my business with my friends. We ended up leaving not long after he got off stage because people were getting really drunk and it was getting a little too crazy for me to stay there safely. I got to see a lot of my friends though and I kept control on my anxiety disorder. It was a good night.
The next day was Fenway day and we woke up disappointed to see that it was raining. It wasn’t that we were thinking of ourselves, really, at least in my case. I can’t speak for other people but I was thinking of how awful it was that it was raining on our guys’ big day. I mean, that day was so huge for them. That morning, Abbie had some work to do for the Remember Betty luncheon, so she left early and Allison and I walked to the restaurant in the rain later for lunch. She works very hard for charity work and I don’t think people are aware of how hard she works because she doesn’t seek glory. The luncheon was a huge success and raised a lot of money to fight breast cancer. Abbie got a birthday cake, a balloon and sung to on top of it. I personally went through the luncheon in a fog because I had a five star that afternoon and I got nervous like clockwork. One would think I would be used to this by now. It’s definitely not my first New Kids rodeo. Susannah (SmittenKitten4D on Twitter) did my hair at our hotel before the five star and I was so happy to spend time with her there. We have always felt like we’ve known each other forever and our encounters are never enough time.
I was going to wear a dress to Fenway because that’s what I do – I wear dresses everywhere – but it was much colder and rainier than I expected in Boston. I put on the warmest clothes I had, which were my white leggings, my new pink Boston shirt, and my water shoes. Ironic, I know. Water shoes in the rain. I have been wearing water shoes for a month because they are the only things that don’t hurt my feet. I bet I was the only one in the whole stadium wearing water shoes in the pouring rain! I didn’t even bother with makeup either. Smitty’s braid in my hair was the only stylish part about me, but whatever, because it’s not like the guys are going to see a tight dress, heels, makeup, and offer up tour bus lovin’. Let’s be real here!
The five stars started incredibly late, I think, because I don’t remember ever having to wait that long before. It was also a very crowded five star and I had a bit of a panic attack after my group was called to line up just because I was surrounded by chaos with no escape. If I can’t see an escape and feel trapped, I panic. I got very angry at myself for having yet another panic attack in this situation. It distorts my ability to remember talking to the guys because I’m usually still coming down from the ledge when I’m called in for my meet and greet. I’ve gotten very good at appearing cool and calm on the surface though. I don’t want to leave that kind of impression on people like I’m delicate and have to be handled with care. I’m also very conscious of being accused of attention seeking because that has happened before as well, so only a few people in my group knew I even had a panic attack. If Jon can’t tell, then I know I’m a damn good actress. I never want him to see it. In Canada, I took glasses of wine like shots to keep him from seeing it (I’d had a particularly bad panic attack that I couldn’t physically hide except by drinking too much and mixing alcohol with my anxiety drug, which was a very bad idea).
|The Fenway VIP laminate.|
The meet and greet was held at the top of stairs, so they sent me around back where there was a ramp. As I got to the top of the ramp, I met Jon on his way to the bathroom. His face lit up when he saw me and he bent over and made me kiss his face. I made it count! It was a smacker! They weren’t ready for fans yet because Jon had to potty, so there I was standing in the back with one of the Jareds, some staff, apparently one of Donnie’s brothers, etc. Earl walked by and stopped when he saw me to bend and kiss me and say, “Hey sweetie.” He ceased to be big scary Earl on the cruise for me. I’m not sure what changed but he’s been very soft, gentle and loving with me since then. I find myself looking forward to Earl cuddles now as much as I do Jon or Donnie cuddles. Then Donnie’s head popped out from behind the curtain and he said, “You wanna come in, JJ?” I said yeah (duh) and he pulled the curtain open for me and said, “Get in here.” Okay, there is a mystery here. The meet and greet room was very cramped and I squished Allison’s toes with my chair. Then there was another bump and Donnie went, “Ouch!” …. Oops …. But Allison said afterward that it looked like Donnie stuck his foot directly in front of my wheel and said, “Run me over,” or something. By that point, I had locked eyes with Jordan and I went deaf and dumb to everything happening around me. Jordan is like a black hole of sexy. I can’t help myself. Joe piped out, “Oh, you ran him ovah!” and I smirked and said, “I’ve done it before. He loves it.”
So there I was with four New Kids and the rest of my group started filing in for their meet and greet. I kind of glanced around not sure what to do with myself without Jon. Tragic. I leaned into Jordan and I said quietly, “Where’s Jon?” He said, “He went to the bathroom,” and looked at the curtain doorway and said, “There he is!” My group was a mess because people didn’t show up, so they stuck random people with us, and I wasn’t going to give up my Jon spot, so I stuck to him like glue. As soon as he came back, he smirked at me and said, “Miss Buckminster….” I laughed and I was like, “Oh, you saw my tweet about where I am?” He said, “No, somebody told me on the street.” In my head, I was like what the f**k! Who’s talking about me! He said he didn’t know who it was and I told him that even though a lot of people know who I am, I don’t actually know a lot of people, and some have a habit of name dropping if they know a New Kid knows someone. I don’t know who was talking about me to him – maybe it was someone I actually know but probably not – but I’m a little guarded when things like that happen. So not only am I his Press Secretary but now I’m Miss Buckminster. I need a tiara and a sash!
I told him that night was my only meet and greet this year and he said, “Good, you’re smart,” and he hugged me tight. You know how I joke about Donnie mounting my chair in Canada? Yeah, Jon did that and gathered me up in his arms for a good squished up hug. No awkward delicate wheelchair hug. It was just what I needed but so rarely get – human to human contact. Allison said afterward that she turned around and all she saw was Jon’s butt and my legs peeking out from under him. Hilarious. As soon as I got squished up in that crook between his neck and shoulder, I totally relaxed and all my anxiety drained out of my body. Sometimes a person just needs a good, solid hug to make everything feel better, I guess. When he pulled away, he gestured at the other guys and said something about making sure I said hi to them too, so I went to Danny and got a hug and kiss. Donnie stopped me for another kiss – I think we had three or four in that meet and greet – and I noticed the next group coming in so I made a hasty exit. I didn’t want to take time away from other people even though security wasn’t doing anything to kick me out. The day was rushed and it was not my place to hang around when other people hadn’t had their time yet.
|My five star picture. The weird camera lens makes people on the ends look wide. Booo.|
|Fenway before it filled up.|
There was a lot of time to kill before the show started, so we went to the merch booth first. I bought the Fenway NKOTB t-shirt with the baseball on it and a program, two items that cost an obscene amount of money. I like collecting special memorabilia though. From there, Abbie joined her Ultimate people and Allison and I went to find Katy (Dannys_Woodshed on Twitter) and another girl who’s name escapes me at the moment (sorry!). While we were talking to them by the main gates, I noticed an older bearded man with a bright yellow raincoat and I realized it was Jon and Jordan’s father. I had seen his picture before. He’s kind of hard to miss. He sort of looks like he’s been at sea in a fishing boat for a while. Later after we ate some food, we went to the bathroom further down and there was Papa Knight sitting at one of the tables kind of by himself. I smiled at him. I’m Southern so that’s what I do – even if people are strangers, I smile at them in passing, but people in Boston don’t seem to grasp Southern manners. We stood there waiting for one of us to use the bathroom and while we were talking to each other, I noticed that Papa Knight was staring. At me. Like hardcore staring for several minutes. I started feeling very uncomfortable because he not only strikes me as intimidating but I had no clue why he stared holes into me. Was he staring at my disability? Did he recognize me? Was it because I smiled like a Southern girl? Was he just an intense people watcher? I still don’t know but I left as soon as I could. Maybe I should have said hello instead but he intimidated me. Side note – he walks like Jon. I found that amusing. I’m just not someone who approaches New Kids’ family members. I only met Jon’s mother because she approached me a few years ago.
My first words when we stepped onto the field to find our seats was, “Oh my God! It’s huge!” I said it really loud because people were grinning at me. I felt like I was Julia Roberts walking into that Beverly Hills hotel with Richard Gere for the first time. Ha! Originally, our tickets were for section A3 row 8 seats 3 and 4, but the Fenway ushers took us to another section at the halfway point of the shaft where they were putting wheelchairs. I don’t know who’s idea that was but THANK YOU because every other venue is confused when I show up with floor seats. Fenway had their act together. I started out in third row but as things progressed and we shuffled around, I ended up in the front row. We had some space to maneuver too, so I was very comfortable as far as my anxiety goes.
I’m going to post this video so you can see the opening number. First the mayor declared it NKOTBSB Day in the city of Boston, then Mark Wahlberg came out to introduce our guys, and then the Red Sox announcer did the starting lineup. That was so fun! Here you go.
The show was amazing. I mean, I don’t have any words for it. While they were doing Single/The One in that video, you can’t see it from that far, but Jon spotted me as he was scanning the crowd and he grinned and arched his eyebrows as he sang, “I’ll be your boyfriend. Girl, I’ll be your boyfriend.” I may have had my blood pressure skyrocket. I can’t help it. The man rocks my world. Who cares if he’s gay? I had a moment. And can I just say how good Jon looks bulked up a little bit? We’ve all seen him in that black wife beater on this tour but let me tell you, pictures really don’t do him justice. I’m a lifelong Jon girl and I’m pretty used to his body by now but even I was surprised by how big his shoulders and arms have gotten. It was a lovely thing to see. That’s all I can say without blushing because I don’t know if he’ll get bored at some point and read this little blog.
We got some great pictures of the guys from behind as they performed with the Fenway Park sign in the distance. The real importance of that night didn’t hit home for me until Joe performed Please Don’t Go Girl. Of course, we all knew how important that night was for them but from my vantage point, I was watching Joe from the back as he was looking up at the Fenway Park sign. I glanced at the big screens and saw tears rolling from his eyes as he sang the song. Every little boy from Boston wants to be at Fenway. It was a dream come true for them. This is a video someone took of the screen.
About halfway through the show, the rain became a downpour. It was bad for a few minutes with me thinking my chair was going to die but Allison gave up her poncho for me. Power wheelchairs are not supposed to get wet. The funny thing was earlier that day, I tweeted Jon and told him I might need him to fix my chair if it gets rained on and shorts out. At the meet and greet, he looked at me and said something like, “Your chair’s not shorted out.” I kind of gave him a blank stare and said, “Well, I’m not out in the rain yet.” Good thing he’s pretty. So there I was in the middle of Fenway Park during a downpour, wearing a poncho and begging the universe to keep the water from wrecking my wheelchair. But then, there was Jon right in front of me looking like a drowned rat and stripping off his stage clothes down to that black wife beater again and life was good. Take a look at how wet it was.
Truthfully, the rain made everything more fun to me. I looked around at thousands of people dancing and singing while soaked to the bone, and thousands of faces smiling at the stage as the guys flung themselves across it like kids on a slip and slide. We sang, we danced, we were all soaked and freezing with runny makeup, matted hair, and nobody cared. It was about the music, the moment and the joy. I watched the guys sliding up and down the stage as the rain poured and I thought to myself, “I’m never going to forget this night. This is something I’ll tell my grandchildren about.” I think a lot of us had that moment at some point when we realized how important and unforgettable it was to be part of that night at Fenway Park. Take a look at this video with the closing of the show, the slip and slide stage and the huge fireworks Fenway gave us.
I went straight back to the Buckminster after the show because I had to catch a flight at 8:30 the next morning, which meant that I had to get up at 5:45 am. I wasn’t going to pay $150 more to fly out of Logan in the afternoon. It took about 45 minutes to walk around the corner from Fenway to the Buckminster because Boston PD shut the streets down, it was still pouring, and everybody was going in a million different directions. Even though I was wearing a poncho, I found that my clothes were still wet and cold when I got back to my room and my shoes were full of water.
All of my stuff was still wet when I got home to Atlanta the next day! On top of that, parts of my wheelchair have been falling off since I got home too. My footrest just fell the heck off in the parking garage at Logan and now my seat back keeps popping in and out of an unnatural reclined position. There are stripped screws, some rubber grippy things are not gripping, and I don’t have the know-how to fix this mess. I told Jon yesterday that he needs to bring his tools to Atlanta to work on my busted chair and his response was, “My tools are sitting in my garage probably all rusty. Damn you Blockheads for that! LOL” You love us, Jon! Don’t even try and act like we’re a thorn in your side!
But seriously… I don’t know how to fix my broken wheelchair parts before the Atlanta show. I need a man who has tools and knows how to use them. Otherwise, my solution involves glue, duct tape, and prayers.
|Jon in the rain.|
I didn’t get to bring Donnie my books but I’m hoping Sissy or somebody can drop them off next week at her Atlanta meet and greet. The books wouldn’t fit in my luggage for Boston. There were only two paperbacks but I was determined to just use a carry-on bag. I don’t typically bring “gifts” because the guys get enough crap they don’t need. I usually only bring Jon a book every now and then as I publish them, and he wanted the portrait I did, but other than that, I don’t bring a bunch of junk just for the sake of giving them something. The books for Donnie are two books that I wrote and published. I thought he’d like that since he’s a hardworking self-made person like I am. We can relate to each other on the creative level. We’ll see. I hope I can get them to him somehow!
I feel so blessed to have shared that night at Fenway with my friends and NKOTBSB. There were so many little moments like Donnie popping out from underneath the stage and blowing a kiss at me between songs that are burned into my memory. I’m sure most people don’t understand the bond between these guys and their fans but it has been one of the most wonderful periods of my life. I’ve been able to see great new places because of them and I have a great circle of friends now. It’s so much bigger than just a band and I think that’s the part critics don’t grasp. That’s okay though. We have never cared what critics say. Although I’m not doing any more meet and greets, I am going to the Atlanta show and hopefully Orlando if there are wheelchair seats left to be purchased. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again!