I am not proud to admit this, but, when I was in the sixth grade, it was my dream to meet Britney Spears. Yes, I had become one of those pre-teens. For Christmas, my mother bought me tickets for her “Oops I did it again” tour when it came to the Firstar Center (now US Bank Arena). I had to wait almost a year for the concert to come around, but I prepared for it every day until then. I rehearsed what I was going to say when I undoubtedly would run into her outside of the concert venue casually exiting her tour bus and meeting fans like she did in her videos (did not happen, by the way). I planned my outfit knowing that I had to dress impeccably so she would notice me out of the thousands of other screaming fans in the seats (again, didn’t happen, but I did put together a pretty amazingly awful concert ensemble). I, being the nerd writer that I am, wrote out potential talking points that I could use when we were chatting on her tour bus after the show (in keeping with the unrealistic expectations, this, too, did not happen). I even had a backup plan should our paths not cross that evening. I wrote a letter to her telling her how big a fan I was, enclosed my phone number and address, and left it on my seat for her to find…like she was going to do some sort of sweep of the venue after her concert. Several days after the concert, I got a letter in the mail. It was from a woman, who was part of the cleanup crew from the concert, lambasting me for leaving my personal information out there, especially since there were men there on a work release program that could have gotten my information to use for less than lawful purposes. And so ended my childhood naïveté, or so I thought.
Here I am, twelve years later after just experiencing the same kind of naïve excitement over meeting someone I had anticipated meeting for a rather long time. This time, however, it was not Britney Spears. It was a woman who has come to mean a lot to me. A woman who has served as a mentor and friend to me for the past year; despite the fact that we had never met. A woman who I respect and admire for her strength, wisdom and beauty. A woman who has shown me that it is ok to work towards recovery because life is so much better on the other side. She’s helped me through so much, and I couldn’t wait to meet her when I got the invitation for her bridal shower in the mail. I was finally going to meet her! “Oh shit, I need to prepare!” was my next thought. What if I wasn’t who she imagined I would be? What if, after she finally met me, she realized that I was more messed up than she thought and didn’t want to mentor me anymore? What would happen if I said or did something to offend or upset her? What if, what if, what if? That was all that was running through my head. After getting incredibly lost on the way there and arriving 45 minutes late, I knew I was not making the brilliant first impression that I was hoping to make. Great, now I’ve given her ample cause to hate me.
I walked in quietly, slid her gift onto the gift table and silently found a seat next to the only person in the room (aside from my mentor/friend) that I knew—all the while praying she wouldn’t notice I was 45 minutes late. Then she saw me. I didn’t know what to say or do. What do you say to someone who already knows all about you but has never met you? I was just so nervous that she would think all the horrible things I was thinking about myself in the car, that I can’t really remember what she actually did say as she hugged me and welcomed me to the shower. She reassured me that they were just eating now and that I had not missed anything. What she did next is a testament to her kind nature and amazingly giant heart…she helped me through the food situation. She made me feel totally comfortable about everything. I have never experienced anyone who “got it”, but she did. She treated me like a normal human being–not as damaged goods– and offered additional support when she knew I needed it most. The whole rest of the shower I kept thinking about how wonderful it is to finally have met her and that she was everything I had hoped for. I am so excited to have her in my life and look forward to our continued friendship (and her wedding!). She may not be Britney Spears, but, to me, she is even better…kinder…wiser…more understanding…sweeter and even more beautiful (in her heart and in her appearance). In the end, I if I had to pick only one of these two women to meet in my lifetime, it would choose to meet this friend over Britney Spears any day.