I am standing outside an amphitheatre in Mansfield, Massachusettes and nothing—not the hours of standing or the rain periodically falling through the poorly constructed ceiling coverage or the heavy wooden baseball bat in a box that I am lugging around (somehow not suspicious to the venue's security guards)—can make anything bad today. No, not as I wait beside a magical curtain, preparing to meet the love of my fourteen-year-old life. The excitement has built up inside of me like an overfilled water balloon and I am ready to burst.
Then, the curtain moves a little to the side, letting me through. I turn the corner and there he is: Nicholas Jerry Jonas.
It almost feels like I am looking at an illusion that I focused so hard on that I was finally been able to conjure it into the world. He is wearing one of my favorite outfits—his grey cardigan with a white V-neck t-shirt and jeans—his curls pushed back from his forehead with a bandana that coordinates with the color of my dress. It is proof to me that we are spiritually connected.
Joe and Kevin step in front of Nick to introduce themselves, not recalling having met me the previous year on their concert tour, but I remain focused only on Nick. My mom, like the good wing woman she is, chats to the other brothers as I approach him. He turns to me, too.
‘Hi,’ he says, putting his hand out to shake. ‘I’m Nick. It’s good to meet you.’
‘I got this for you,’ I say, nervously, shoving the present in Nick’s direction, the box all wrapped in his favorite color blue and somehow not soggy from the rain. ‘It’s a customized baseball bat. I know you like the Yankees…and baseball.’
‘Wow,’ Nick says, looking at the gift with a small sense of surprise. ‘That’s awesome.’
‘She’s been waiting to meet you for a long time,’ my mother interjects. ‘We were in Cleveland last year for this, but you fell sick.’ She punches out the last word like she wants to make it clear that she does not believe that had actually been the case. I am embarrassed but not enough for it to show.
‘Oh, I’m sorry about that,’ Nick says to me. We look at each other for a moment before he looks back at the bat. I still cannot believe where I am standing. I think I might fall over. If I'm lucky it will be into his arms.
‘Do you want to take a picture?’ Joe asks then, scrunching into my side as I remain next to Nick.
I still cannot take my eyes off of him, scanning his body up and down. Even though I had known his height, 5’9” was shorter in-person. When I glance up to his eyes I notice him staring at what seems to be my breasts, though when he lifts his chubby finger and points, I realize his focus is actually my neck.
‘Is that my pick?’ Nick asks, leaning in and looking closer.
I gently touch the chain around my neck, the guitar pick charm hanging from it. ‘Oh, yeah,’ I say. ‘I got it when I saw you play at the Beacon in New York with the Administration this past winter.’
Nick smiles a bit. It is not quite enough to need his teeth but certainly more than usual. ‘That’s so cool,’ he says. ‘I’ve never seen anything like it before.’
Although he is talking about the necklace, I feel like he is talking about me and it is a briefly beautiful thing to feel. The thought forces a lovesick grin onto my face, captured as we turn toward the camera and the photographer snaps away.
At the show later, Nick’s eyes find me in the first row of the crowd. He walks over, bends down, and passes me another guitar pick. I try to play it cool, freaking out inside as the girls around me looked astonished.
This is it, I tell myself. This is what it feels like to find the one. I do not yet realize that I have no idea what I am talking about.
Rachel A.G. Gilman's work has been published in journals throughout the US, UK, and Australia. She is the Creator/EIC of The Rational Creature and was EIC for Columbia Journal, Issue 58. She holds an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and is currently reading for an MSt in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford. She encourages you to support Inkluded Academy.