When nostalgia isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Last night I was reminded that you just can’t revisit your childhood. Everything looks different with the eyes of adulthood.

NKOTB Mixtape Tour

NKOTB Mixtape Tour

When my sisters and I were young we had a brief but fierce obsession with New Kids on the Block. I was obsessed with Joey McIntyre and my sisters fought over which one of them was allowed to like Jordan. We thought they were cute and their music was just so excellent. Our love for New Kids fizzled out, like most pre-teen crushes. I didn’t find another musical obsession until Freshman year when my friend Ida sold me a tape that she’d gotten for her birthday that she didn’t really like. That was my discovery of Pearl Jam and my love for grunge music never faded. But that’s another story.

On a lark, and because we’d never been able to attend a New Kids concert as kids, I got my sister tickets for the Mixtape Tour as a Christmas present. We were excited to revisit this part of our childhood and spend some time together. Last night was the big night.

The concert featured many musical acts of our youth. Tiffany was there. I’m pretty sure Tiffany’s 1987 album was the first tape I ever owned and listening to her sing instantly brought me back to times singing “I Think We’re Alone Now” in the back of the church van on youth group trips. Debbie Gibson was there, as were Salt n’ Pepa and Naughty by Nature. It was a real late 80s flashback.

Of course, we were there primarily for the New Kids. The problem is, they aren’t that new anymore. It was disconcerting to me to watch puffy faced 50 year olds gyrate and thrust while singing teeny-bopper songs. The crowd was almost all 40 something women who were trying to recapture some piece of their youth. I’m not excluding myself from that observation. It didn’t feel nostalgic to me.

When we got back to our hotel last night several other concert goers were there also. We sat for a few minutes in the hotel bar and watched sloppy middle aged men try to pick up drunk middle aged women. It was not something I’d like to witness again.

I’m currently listening to an audiobook about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos and I was listening to it on my drive home. The book is excellent, all about hubris and lack of accountability and just plain malfeasance. Somehow my experiences of last night and this audiobook have combined to make me feel sad and disgusted.

I never have anything but the most fun with my sister and I would go nearly anywhere with her. I’m glad we took our adventure to see New Kids on the Block. But next time I think we’ll try to remain in the present. Honestly, our relationship as adults is much better than our relationship was at the time of our New Kids phase. I’d rather celebrate that.