A thin screen was all that separated me from my dreams.
A thin screen that hid the boys whose faces wallpapered my room from 2008 to 2010. Just one screen between me and those three angels of music: Kevin, Joe, and Nick, or more formally, the Jonas Brothers.
Suddenly, it was my turn. Huge security guards shuffled me in, and I was standing among this fraternity of perfection.
It was 2013, and the Jo Bros, as I like to call them, had made a comeback three years after their climax of fame. They were once again taking the world — and hearts of still-devoted fans — by storm. And here I was, lucky enough to score “meet and greet” tickets.
I took a small step, proceeding with caution.
“Hi guys!” Another step. I turned toward Kevin, the oldest, who had announced a few weeks earlier that he and his wife were pregnant with their first child.
“Can I be the godmother?” I blurted out. There was an awkward pause as the brothers tried to ascertain my level of seriousness. I smiled, they relaxed.
We continued our playful banter, posed for the camera and I was ushered out, but not before I mentioned to Nick that he was my first true love. He winked, I swooned. Security led me away.
My tween dream had finally come true, but if a part of growing up means experiencing heartbreak, then I was about to age ten years.
The conclusion of my childhood came in the form of an email addressed to “Jonas Brothers super fans.” The first line of the email read “We regret to inform you that the camera’s media card was damaged and we cannot recover the photographs.”
I stared at my computer screen in disbelief. My sister peeked over my shoulder and roared with laughter.
Looking back, I don’t blame her. I had been parading around the house all week bragging about my two-minute encounter and contemplating whether I should send out save the dates for my and Nick’s nonexistent wedding. But in the moment, I was furious that she didn’t understand my devastation.
Without photos, how would I remember this short, but meaningful, experience? Would my friends even believe my story?
That was the moment I realized that we all spend too much time trying to document moments instead of actually living them. I had actually met the Jo Bros. I had a conversation with them, hugged them even. I was declared the godmother of Kevin’s baby for crying out loud!
My 11-year-old self would have worshipped me. And while my 16-year-old self would have to deal with the skeptics on Facebook and Instagram when I didn’t post pictures, I didn’t bother to explain the situation to my “friends” or “followers.” The Jo Bros and I hit it off, and no lost picture can rob me of my experience.
I never thought I’d say this and I’m acutely aware of how ridiculous it sounds, but a formerly-famous boy band from New Jersey played an essential role in my transition into adulthood.
Growing up doesn’t mean that the things that were important to us when we were younger carry no significance now. Growing up means handling situations maturely, differentiating between the significant and the trivial, and finding lessons in the most devastating of circumstances, especially circumstances much larger than lost “meet and greet” photographs.
There have been many moments in my life when I was forced to grow up: family members have lost their battles against cancer and friends have died before their time. Despite the challenges, however, perhaps a part of us never grows up at all, the part that can only be triggered by a favorite childhood movie, the smell of Grandma’s perfume, or in my case, Nick Jonas.
After I finally accepted the loss of the photographs, the Jonas Brothers announced their second split (how a band of brothers decides to go their separate ways, I don’t know). While I’m no longer the 11-year-old who topped her Christmas wish list with a “Jonas Brothers drum set,” a part of me wants to treasure my childhood passions for as long as I can. If that means hanging a Jonas Brothers poster on my dorm room wall, then so be it.
I admit that my realizations didn’t arise from the most notable of experiences, but hey, at least I got a goddaughter out of it.
Emily Ward, ’18, is an associate sports editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]