Saturday, September 30, PlayStation Theater, Times Square, New York, United States. It was not later than 8:20 pm when the Hanson brothers took the stage and began to play and sing. At the same time as the music rolled and the people sang and screamed together, a movie started to play in my head. I went back in time and all of a sudden I relived all the memories from when I was a teenager. As I watched the show and assimilated that this was happening, I thought of everything I lived until I got there.
I was very intense when it came to my idols – all the teenager are, right? As a little girl that loves Xuxa (Kids TV Host very famous in Brazil), who collected all the possible photos of her, and tried to have all the cassettes and watched all the TV shows, I became a teenager that read Capricho (like a Brazilian Teen Vogue magazine). I don’t remember how I met Hanson – whether it was through the magazine or the radio station I used to listen to. Fact is that when the boys became famous with the hit mmmbop, they also won my heart. It seemed the most of the girls preferred the Backstreet Boys, but I was faithful to the three brothers. But when you live in a small town – and it depends on your Avon representative fee (I was precocious!) – the resources to satisfy your fan needs are little. First, I discovered that my classmate had a Hanson CD. Original. With that little book – the word I used for the booklet with the lyrics of the songs. It didn’t take a while for me to borrowed it from him. I probably kept that CD for months, and I even told my friend that he should give it to me. A frustrated 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 name of the songs and order a personalized CD with the songs I wanted to hear. Then my father sent the request to a friend of him. For me, I would have a new CD recorded every week, but my father had a good handle on that part. 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. Thye got back and they were handsome in video clips that I watched and recorded by TV. Incidentally, I need to highlight my skills with the videocassette recorder. I was so happy when my father made us a surprise and bought one. It was the apex of technology. It was great to have a videocassette recorder at home. At home, I was the person who knew how to deal with technology. Obviously, it was not long before I mastered the art of programming the videocassette recorder so we could record movies and TV series. And, of course, we also recorded all the clips we liked – and put them to repeat endless times. Once, Band – a TV channel in Brazil – announced that it was going to present a Hanson concert on a Saturday night. I was freaking out. But it was beach season, and at weekends we went to my grandfather’s beach house, where the TV sign barely worked. I begged my mother to stay at home, watching and recording the show. She didn’t allow me and I had to put my domino-video-cassette skills into practice. Afraid to miss the beginning and the end of the concert, I left a huge margin and ended up recording not only the concert but the programming before and after it, lol. Of course, I also have decided that I wanted to buy that new Hanson CD. The original one, obviously, because I was not kidding. When you love your idols so much, it’s no fun making copies or buying the pirate version. In my town, there were no shops to buy CDs. At one of the dentist’s trips – which was in a nearby town – I asked my mother to stop at a store and look for the CD. We found it. I bought. I paid a lot of money for that CD. However, it was one of the best investments of my adolescence. I remember my satisfaction until today when I put my hands on that CD. I took special care in handling it and always kept it in the case. I believe it is still at my mother’s house, amidst some of the objects left behind with my move to New York.
With 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 to study – and I was grateful when Capricho magazine published lyrics and translation of some songs I knew. But I was thirsty. Thirsty for learning and for understanding what they said in those songs I listened to and tried to reproduce the sound. How many afternoons I sat on the floor and used my bed as a table to translate – word for word – each of my favorite songs. Dictionary in one hand and paper and pen in another hand, I was riding that puzzle. A lot of the translations didn’t make sense, but it was so incredible to give at least some meaning to those songs in English. I don’t remember what I use to do with the translations after I finished them – but it was always a pleasure to take care of those tasks that I created for myself.
My love for Hanson was also responsible for introducing me to someone who later became one of my best friends. Capricho magazine had an ads section for exchanging idol materials (pictures, posters, etc). It worked like this: “Mary, that lives in the city X, has some Hanson materials and exchange for Backstreet Boys photos”. And I ended up writing a letter to a girl like this. She was from some northeastern city in Brazil. Imagine, we are talking about letters. I sent that letter and a few weeks later, the answer arrived: she had no more material to exchange. But he sent me a chain. Yes, chains are not exclusive to WhatsApp groups. They probably originate in a very distant world, where people have decided to believe that something that is passed through 340408585 times can come true. Anyway. The chain had good intentions. It was a list of names and addresses. The idea was to send a card to the first person on the list – removing her name – and include 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 – you’ll see it was lacking – but I ended up following the chain and sent the letter to the first girl on the list. Her name was Jaqueline. It was not long before she answered me and told me that she was a Sandy & Junior fan (singers sister and brother very famous in Brazil). I answered back. She answered back too. And so it was for years until the friendship 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 lived, she went to Santa Catarina, for my graduation. We’ve been on a bus for 12 hours to visit each other. Today she lives in London and continues in my life – I’ve been there in June. Crazy? Crazy. But it all happened because of Hanson.
In the 2000s, Hanson was also in Brazil and announced a concert in Porto Alegre, the closest city for me. Still, it has not so close by. I think the concert was during the week, I don’t remember very well. I just remember that I got crazy, I wanted to go so bad. I don’t remember what was my mother’s explanation, but she made it clear that no, it was not going to happen. Camila, my best friend at that time, created a miraculous plan. Her father, a truck driver, had several drivers. She, always with an adventurous spirit, was already planning everything: we would go to Porto Alegre by truck, with one of the driver’s friends of her father. I remember her effort to try 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, did not he?
After that, I totally lost my hopes. In Brazil, when you are not close to a big city, it is very difficult to have a chance to see up close those artists you admire. I don’t know if I had this exact thought, but in my mind, that would be my only and last chance. I wouldn’t ever I 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 Saturday, September 30, when I saw them in front of me – and so close – I cried. I cried in the purest and honest way, without holding, without caring. I cried for having achieved the dream of that 13 years old girl. I cried for remembering all the cool-and not-so-cool-stuff that happened when I was a teenager. I cried for being happy and excited and for realizing how New York fulfilled many dreams of my life. You see, I have problems and issues that have not been resolved. Many people may think that I live a fairy tale, but I also deal with many frustrations and many barriers – 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 all my goals. Maybe New York happened so I could make other dreams come true. The dream of knowing the idols from my adolescence (not just Hanson), of studying the language I’ve always loved, of knowing the places I’ve always dreamed of … Suddenly, Taylor Hanson interrupts my thoughts and announces 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”. I texted to my mom and thanked her for everything she did for me. I jumped, I sang, I cried. And I felt so good.
Laura Peruchi is a Brazilian blogger, author, and entrepreneur. She has lived in Manhattan with her husband since 2014. Since then, she has shared on her blog varied content about the Big Apple. From travel tips, including unusual things to do, shopping tips, etiquette, restaurants, and a lot more, her blog has become a reference in Portuguese (also available in English) for anyone planning a trip to New York City.