Thursday, February 4, 2010

From my friend, Ann Marie

This was written by my friend, Ann Marie, @DonniesDancer
I'm reposting it here for those who can't read it.


Do not thank us for coming back…my loves, we never left.

Everyone has a story to tell, about how New Kids on the Block have affected them throughout their life. This is only a chapter in mine. Those who know me…get Kleenex. Mel that means you. ;) Stay with me kids, this is going be long and maybe too much for some to handle. I don’t share this story easily. But the guys need to know what they did for me.

In September of 1988 I was 14 years old. I had long thick naturally curly hair and Bert (Bert and Ernie) eyebrows. At the time I lived with my dad and my younger sister. I have an older sister but she’s 7 years my senior and was already out on her own by then. The guys were EVERYTHING to me. My parents had separated that summer and were well on their way to divorcing and my world was falling apart.

I loved to sing, dance and act and would spend HOURS in my room singing. If I wasn’t in school or dance class, that’s where I was listening to music in my room, singing and taping every single picture I could find of New Kids on the Block on my walls and ceiling. Popcorn ceilings sucked for that, by the way. I’m not sure how I got all of them to stay on there. LOL Anyway, listening and watching them was my way of escaping into a world where I felt safe and not so alone. There was something about seeing them, so young, doing what I wanted to be doing that made me think it could be possible. I went to every concert I could, and my father allowed it because he wanted to try and somehow make things better, easier for me and my sister. I, by nature, am a very shy and introverted person, but man get me on a stage…and I’m home. I would watch them and think one day, one day that will be me. One of them in particular, caught my heart (pretty easy since I wear it on my sleeve), and has had it ever since. We’ll get to him in a minute.

The days would continue to drone on and I would get shuffled back and forth between my dad who I lived with full time and my mom who I went to see every other weekend. Ahhh, Mom. My mom was a tiny little Filipino woman who was full of life and laughter and whom from I inherited my voice. It sure as heck wasn’t Dad. No offense Pops, but your singing ability kills cats. (Love you Pops lol). She had me singing and listening to Elvis Presley at the age of 3. Her favorite comedian was Whoopi Goldberg and I’d laugh every time she’d say her name because it came out “Goofy Goldberg” because of her broken English. I could rest my chin on her head when I hugged her. We’d dance around the apartment to NKOTB music. I would rock my black and white Adidas and my peace sign necklaces, and my Hardwear baseball caps and she’d always say, “Oh honey, That Donnie is a good looking boy. He’s so handsome.” And I’d giggle and say, “Glad you think so, cuz I’m gonna marry him.” Mom would say, “Okay honey, if you believe it, I believe it,” and so it would go… Mom believed in me, that’s all I needed.

In the summer of 1989 my Mom began dating a guy named Roger. He didn’t like us kids. If it was our weekend to be there he would find a way not to be, which was fine by me because the guy gave me the creeps. She would begin to give reasons why it wasn’t a good time for us to come over. It was hard to not be able to go to her when I was feeling down or convinced that I wasn’t talented enough. She was my drive, my reason for doing. She would come to every performance and sit in the front row. I looked for her. She gave me the strength to go on stage.

In September of 1990 I turned 16 and was very excited to get my license. I was a Junior in High School and well on my way to graduating early. I spent every waking moment in the music room. If I didn’t HAVE to be in class you would find me there, studying or working on choreography for our Swing Choir. I loved the little room with the piano. Picturing Jordan at the keys and hearing his voice in my head. I couldn’t play but I found just sitting at one messing with the keys was soothing. And so it would go…I was on my path to “stardom”. Singing “Fame, I’m gonna live forever…”

In December of 1990 Christmas was coming and there was debate as to where we were going to spend it. Mom said that Roger was going to be out of town visiting family. We were SO excited we could spend Christmas with Mom! It was going to be so sweet!

On December 19th I drove myself and my friend Amy, over to Mom’s - big shot that I was with my license and Dad’s car- to pick up a rosary I needed for Religion class the next day. (12 years of Catholic Schooling. OY! ) I had called before I left to make sure it was okay, and Mom said, “Sure, honey, anytime tonight.”
So I went after homework, It was 9:15p.m.when I got there (Yes, I most certainly remember the time). Singing NKOTB Christmas carols the whole way there. I think Amy stayed in the car while I ran in. That part is fuzzy. I knocked on the door and I heard Roger yell, “Come in!” I thought to myself, “Oh shit. I thought he wasn’t supposed to be here. Why isn’t he in Texas?”

I opened the door and there were beer bottles everywhere and he was sitting at the table in his tattered jeans and “wife beater.” He saw me and said, “Hey baby, you know how to play cards? Come over and sit on my lap and I’ll teach you how to play.” I will never forget the knot that formed in my stomach. I simply replied, “Where’s my Mom?” Roger hollered down the hall, “Maria! It’s your kid! The pretty one.” He proceeded to give me the nasty once over. I hadn’t seen my Mom in a while and she came around the corner, wearing a men’s long sleeved button down shirt, and that was it. Of course she was so tiny anyway it went to her knees and looked like a dress, and I remember thinking that she looked smaller than usual. Sick almost. She had her rosary in her hand. She had a very far away look in her eyes, and I said, “Mom, are you okay?” She just smiled sadly and gave me a hug and said, “ Everything’s fine honey, I love you.” She was so fragile, I thought she might break when she hugged me. I accepted her assurance as true and left. But something wasn’t right and I could feel it in my gut.

I kept telling Amy, I should go back and she’d reassure me continuously and we went home, singing NKOTB all the way home. I couldn’t sleep that night, that feeling just wouldn’t go away, and at 3a.m. my Dad knocked softly on the door, opened it to see if I was awake and, I sat up, looked right at him and said, “She’s dead isn’t she?” He just said, “Yes.” I got up walked past him and out into the living room where the Christmas tree was lit up and Christmas music was still playing. The Christmas song came on, and Jordan’s voice sent me into a tailspin of tears. I couldn’t stop crying. I just sat, in the chair, staring at the tree, crying. I vaguely remember my dad was on the phone and people were starting to come over and I just stayed there. As the sun came up “What a Wonderful World” played on the radio, and I had no more tears left. That moment…I lost everything that ever mattered to me.

On December 19th, 1990 I went to visit my Mother not knowing that was the last time I’d ever see her again. I was the last one to see her alive. After I’d left the apartment Roger and my Mother got in a fight over the fact that I was there at all. That night, Roger raped and beat my Mother to death and left her naked, bruised body on the floor and went for a drink at his ex girlfriends house, claiming that that’s where he was all night.

On December 22nd, 1990 3 days before Christmas…I buried my hero.

My life was never the same. I stopped dancing. I found no joy in singing anymore. I did it, but my heart was not in it. What was the point if the ONE person who I felt believed in me was no longer there.
I still listened to NKOTB because without them I probably would have stopped performing all together.
And so it would go…

Not long after my parents divorce and shortly before my mother’s death, I joined a support group called Y.A.B.E (shout out to my peeps!) Young Adult Beginning Experiences. It was a group that helped kids with loss of a loved one through either death or divorce. Well, cha-ching! Got a twofer right here! It was there that I met the second person who ever believed in me. She’s told me for years that I’m gifted and beautiful and strong and funny and smart, and if it weren’t for Melanie and our shared love of NKOTB, I don’t know where I would’ve been. She, to this day, is ever encouraging, believes in me and my talent and constantly helps me find my “inner bitch.” LOL I began singing again - performing and actually finding a bit of joy in it.

And like most things, life carries us away. The trial came and went; the bastard is serving a life sentence, thanks to evidence and my testimony that put him at the scene of the crime at the time of death. I graduated, Melanie got married, I got married. She had kids, I had kids. We lost track of each other. The details are not important as to why, although Melanie would insert here, “The hell they aren’t! It was because of the Ass Hat! fndfohfw’mfdFdf.” LOL And so it would go…ten years went by and every once in a while we’d talk but that was about it. Every so often I’d see Donnie on screen and think, “Yep, still gonna marry you.” Who cares if we were both married? I would always think, “I bet HE’D be more supportive of my career choice.” LMAO! What? I held onto whatever dreams I had. No matter how small. I was and forever will be a dreamer. I’ve waited 20 years, what’s 20 more? ;)

Fast forward to 2008, I’m separated from my husband for a second time and going through hell…again. I told Melanie I think that the guys are getting back together. She said, “Don’t tease me Cheese.” I said, “Seriously, go look on the website, there’s like a countdown or something.” She was ever vigilant, like she is about most things, and didn’t stop ‘til she confirmed it. I moved back home to Des Moines after living in Minneapolis for 11 years and the reunion of not only NKOTB, but also Melanie and I began and here we all are, 20 years later. Still friends bound together by our life experiences and our love for NKOTB.

We sat at her house this morning and watched “Coming Home,” and I watched as 5 bad brothers from the Beantown land took me back to when my dreams were new and anything was possible. I left her house crying like a baby.

My spirit is restored. I have come full circle. I will forever pursue my dreams. Hell, there’s always gonna be a need for a Grandma in some movie or show, and by the time I get to where I wanna be that will probably be me. My point is, it’s taken me a long time to get here and a lot of heartache, but I am in it for the long haul. With my heroes NKOTB and Melanie, I truly believe (Okay Mel, I MOSTLY believe LOL).

Jordan: You’re voice is such a gift to me and I will forever remember hearing you that morning. You are a source of peace (and laughter). You are what I aspire to be: A master of your instrument. ;) Mark my words, we will sing together. Oh yes, it’s gonna happen. 2 fist pumps baby boy!

Danny: You made me laugh SO hard watching you talking about vocal warm ups on the DVD. Melanie and I were in TEARS! Your smile and laugh are infectious. Every time I see and hear you I just want to hug you.

Jon: You and I are a lot alike. I am very shy and reserved and it usually takes a strong push to get me on that stage, but watching you do it again even though, it’s hard, It gives me courage to get my ass out there.

Joe: You can sing to me for hours. You have so much power and depth to your voice. You move me Joseph. Although you will always look like you’re 12 years old to me, I love you dearly and those amazing eyes. I think we need to tackle a Broadway show together. I’m thinking Chicago. ;)

And last but not least… the cheese in my cheesecake…

Donnie: You were the first man who ever captured my heart, and have it now, always and forever.

Ann Marie~

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