Here we go. My attempt to summarize what this glorious day meant to me.
But let me back up 17 years.
It started as a crush.
I was 12 and loved MMC. So much that I begged my parents to take a trip to Florida so I could see the show live. And I begged them to let me be ON the show. (It never happened if you were wondering.)
MMC was cancelled and I moved on. I started high school. I got into theatre (thanks to MMC). And then I heard “I Want You Back” on the radio and found out who the familiar bleach blond was. I logged onto AOL. Search: Justin Timberlake and *NSYNC.
It grew to an obsession.
Concerts, shirts, TRL video premieres, TV recordings, sneaking into arenas early to try to meet them, contests…I think you get it. You saw the ridiculous boy band craze. (But let me remind you that *NSYNC was NOT manufactured and they did NOT lip sync.)
They were the real thing. And when “Gone” came out, everyone knew that Justin was DEFINITELY the real thing. That voice got me through high school. It was an escape. It was a dream.
It became inspiration.
Of course I didn’t want *NSYNC to end at the time, but it had to for his solo debut to happen. He took a risk. He followed his passion and trusted his creativity. And he continued (and continues) to do this. Despite outside pressure.
More concerts. More award shows. William Rast jeans. 901 Tequila. SNL appearances. Social Network. My best friend Sherren and I traveled to Chicago and Toronto to see him perform. We got to see him on Oprah live. We have bonded so much due to the simple fact that Justin Timberlake brings us joy and inspires us. We wondered over and over what to say if we met him. And if we did meet him, we hoped we would meet him together. It would happen one day. We just knew it.
Literally a dream come true.
It happened on Wednesday, September 28, 2011. Sherren and I finally made it to Las Vegas for the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open. We followed him in the Pro Am and he casually talked to the crowd. The Pro Am finished and he signed autographs for the line of fans. He went inside before getting to us but, as true fans would, we had clubhouse passes. And as fate would have it, we went inside with our new friend Mandy who shared our passion and we met him on the patio. Away from other “fans”. Just the three of us with Justin.
I shut down. I didn’t want to bother him. But thankfully Sherren and Mandy were still conscious and bold enough to ask his bodyguard. No photos but he would meet us. He turned around, shook our hands, signed our badges and chatted with us (about the weather, where we’re from, his upcoming charity concert and how long we’ve been fans). He was just as cool as he seems and nice as I was hoping. We followed him inside and had 901 Tequila margaritas down the bar from him. It was so surreal. It felt like a dream. It felt like anything is possible.
“It’s not about the thing, it’s about the experience.”
On Oprah’s Lifeclass, she was discussing doing viewer surprises on the show and said “it’s not about the thing, it’s about the experience.” She believes that the new car, the trip, the paid bills, showed them that they mattered. That hope matters.
I understand some people don’t get it and I agree that this is all sounds a little silly (I mean he is just a “person”) but when something actually happens that you’ve dreamt of so specifically for so long…it’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s a dream come true.
I’ll never forget that day. How blue the sky was. How blue JT’s eyes were. How sweaty and gross I felt from the damn Vegas heat. How not sweaty and gross he was. But what I’ll remember the most is the feeling of disbelief that it really happened and, at the same time, believing that any other dream I have could very well come true with faith and determination.
So I will continue to dream and will be even more determined.
To get a photo with him.