This weekend was one of the best (and corniest) weekend’s of my life. [I wrote this immediately after the concert but have had some trouble with the photo uploads so now its late—The concert was November 18th..yikes]. I met up with my parents in Memphis, Tennessee for no other reason than to see Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience Tour. Because I tried to convince my father that this was his father’s day present, we also threw in a VIP tour of Graceland.
You might wonder why a 22 year old would drag both of her parents (in their 60s—roughly) to a JT show? Because anyone can attend his concert and enjoy the hell out of it! Also, because I’ve seen every concert with my mom and I figured daddy needed some lovin’ too.
I’ll start with the tour of Graceland because that was surprisingly eye opening. I had never known that THE KING was such a humanitarian. I guess I also never really understood and appreciated just how famous/popular he was. The Raquetball Room was ASTONISHING. He made his Grammy/record room look pathetic. I was also taken about by Elvis’ unique taste in decorating. My favorite room, however, was his peacock living room. I thought it was absolutely stunning
ON TO THE BEST PART OF MY LIFE AND THIS BLOG POST.
So, if you missed it, November 18th was officially declared “JT Day” in Memphis by their mayor. I woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 5:25 am to get ready for my JT DAY. Mom and I got ready, donned our JT gear (me—the black “dressed up” suit/tie tshirt from justintimberlake.com and mom—the JT/JAYZ VIP shirt from the LOTS tour). Unfortunately, I broke my foot two weeks before the show and am forced to wear this giant aircast (affectionately referred to as my space boot). I spiced up the boot with the JT bowtie that you can also purchase from justintimberlake.com. My #bootandtie look, if you will. This look later caught the eye of a local ABC tv reporter.
Mom and I headed up to Millington, TN to visit Mirimichi—Justin’s golf course. I viewed this whole weekend as my own personal pilgrimage, if you will. In true Erika&mother fashion, we ended up at the back end of the golf course and panicked because we thought it was closed. Luckily, we figured out that we probably weren’t in the right spot and corrected our mistake. We drove into the beautiful entrance and I was beside myself with nerves. There is no way in hell that I can even pretend to be a golfer. Would they kick us off? Think we’re psychos? Would JT be on the green for a pre-concert round? And so we parked the car and strolled into the pro-shop. Jenna—who’s amazing btw—saw right through my mom and I (probably the t-shirts). She kindly showed us around the shop, took a photo of me by the golf bag with JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE stitched onto it, and overall entertained my fandome. The icing on the cake? She suggested that mom and I take a golf cart and check out the course– something I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do without actually golfing.
We cruised around the course. It was a bit chilly in Memphis and the green wasn’t exactly green but Mirimichi is beautiful. It was overwhelmingly peaceful in the early morning and for a second I was beginning to understand why so many people enjoy golf. This little experience was unlike anything I’ve done with my mom also so that was really cool. I feel as if the course is divided into two types of eco-systems. There’s a very open area that is mildly marshy and then there is a very woodsy area. It’s a really enjoyable cart ride. Mom and I did manage, however, to get lost which was pretty comical. I’m convinced our cart was bugged because if we found something that wasn’t perfect and joked about it, it was being addressed by the time we made our way back to the pro-shop.
This is what I enjoyed most about this excursion. We grabbed a bite to eat and the operations manager came up to us and began explaining how wonderful Justin is to work for. He spoke of the golf course and how it functioned before JTs ownership, how JT learned how to golf on the course itself, and how thankful he is that Justin and his mom stepped in and refurbished it. It was wild speaking with someone who knew Justin and his mom so well. He spoke so highly and so personally about each of them. I was a proud and eager fan. It was great to hear of a real human, down-to-earth side of Justin. Round of applause to his staff!
From there, we scooped my dad up from Waffle House and headed downtown to officially celebrate JTDay. We enjoyed the press conference held outside of the Westin Hotel (in front of the FedEx forum). Bowties were passed around to the people in attendance. A disclaimer was made immediately that Justin wasn’t even invited to this event because they knew he’d be busy and didn’t want to put him in a position to say no. Many businesses took part in JTDay by posting signs in support of Justin or by having their employees don the bowtie. The mayor of Memphis spoke highly of Justin and his impact on Memphis. He then presented the degree to his mother who was in attendance. She was DECKED out in JT swag (suit and tie tshirt and JT belt). After the conference ended, a girl who I met and I went up to Lynn Harless to meet her and snag a pic with her. My opening line to this woman was “can I take a picture with you since we’re twinning”. Sometimes I hate myself. Either way, we were twinning because we both were rocking the JT bowtie. She laughed, told me she was going to wear the t-shirt that I had on, and gladly took the photo. Don’t worry folks—it didn’t stop there! My mom later went up to her, and her grandmother and chatted the two of them up. I ended that experience by trying the two latest flavors of 901 tequila. Happy JTDay, ya’ll.
The 20/20 Experience concert…le sigh! So this performance was the 8th time I’d seen Justin perform. I WAS SO EXCITED and I chose this concert because he’d be performing in his home town. I knew his energy would be palpable and infectious. Words will fail me as I attempt to explain his pure bliss on that stage.
I was blessed to be in the second row (again). However, this second row was closer to the stage than it was for the Legends of the Summer Tour. There is something special, as well, about seeing JUST Justin on stage. He’s so damn talented and every single maneuver is perfectly thought out. Now if you’re a lunatic fan like I am, you know his little inflections, hand gestures, and overall responses to his own music to a T. I was right there with him the whole time. It was hard to believe that there were about 15,000 other people around me. Hell, I forgot that my parents were right next to me.
He was a giddy little boy again. He shouted out his dentist that he saw in my section and joked that he probably knew half of the people in the crowd, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing (insert his perfect giggle). He proudly pounded his chest as he told the Tennessee Kids, “That’s my city!”
Gah. He’s perfect.
I’ve heard that the concert was really impressive as far as the light show/visuals go. Admittedly, my eyes were glued to the President of Pop and swept over his band/singers frequently. I was barely aware of the visuals. My 67 year old dad was blown away by it though, so props Justin.
The man doesn’t stop moving at all. He doesn’t even pull up a stool to do a ballad. The only time he sits is during the one piano number (Until the End of Time) and he’s still dancing and crooning so you can barely count it as a break. After the 9 minute intermission he left us. Now, having attended several concerts, I know that Justin loves to visit the fans out in the crowd—therefore I was expecting him to get off of the main stage. I was not, however, expecting the stage to break off in the way that it did and go ALL THE WAY to the opposite side of the stadium. When the stage finally stopped, I teared up because of how wonderful he is. I’ve never seen his stage designs go all the way across the stadium (he usually gets to the middle). He then stayed over there for four songs and some covers, running back and forth so that the back center wasn’t just getting him. I’m so floored by him it’s unreal. I did feel a bit cheated on when he went that far away and performed two of my favorite songs (Cabaret and That Girl), but I was a bit thankful for the distance. I’m pretty sure if he had been in my face the entire night, I would have had a heart attack. The distance allowed me to just take in his performance and catch a breather. But don’t worry Justin, even with a broken foot, I didn’t sit down once!
So…I’ll never be happy again but that’s okay. That was the best performance I’ve seen out of him. The only thing I need to ever top that is a hug from Justin. Part of me hopes he sees this and makes that wish come true. Part of me hopes that doesn’t happen for a year or so because once that happens my life will no longer have to continue. Everything I’d ever wanted to do will have been done.
Until next time,
Real recognize real, so I decided to write you today. I’m from (and live) in the Southside of Chicago so I understand street politics. I know that you can’t let disrespect go unchecked because you have to fend for yourself. The police that are suppose to watch out for us are the very ones that hurt us. Teachers don’t care what goes on in the school because they’re too busy focused on other things. No one is watching out for us. No one is looking out for our best interest. Therefore, we must do it for ourselves. That is why disrespect can’t go unchecked. I know that letting a little disrespect slide opens the door for people to get bolder with their antics. But let me say again – I live in “Chiraq.” After so many killings I’ve come to ask certain questions, questions I will ask you…
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The most important task I have at my job is “mingling” with the guests. Although seemingly easy, this is one of the harder parts of anyone’s experience at the center. I thought I’d have this role in the bag because I love chatting it up with anyone and almost everyone.
But there are some conversational phrases that frankly suck when you work with the homeless population.
I’m a big fan of the following conversational openers: “How’s your life?”, “How are you doing today?”, “What was for dinner?”, “What did you do last night.”
Welcome to the awkward world of Miss Enlund, the volunteer. I’ve quickly learned that these phrases just can’t be used at work. They warrant some colorful answers occasionally, but often they just make you feel two inches tall and you have to creatively back out of the situation you walked into.
But thank the Lord for those with a sense of humor and the willingness to talk.
During these accidental moments is where I have found the great hope that made me fall in love with New Orleans. The people here are so strong and so hopeful. I learn about the smallest things that impact their new lifestyles. It’s in these conversations that they reflect on the circumstances that lead them to this point in their life and they talk about their change in perspective.
What’s really cool about my job is how these ice breaker conversations grow over time. I think what is so unique about the center that I work at is the level or relationship between staff and guest. There are guests that come around every so many months, there are daily guests, and there are “success-story” guests who come back for a visit or to say thank you. The interactions between these guests and staff include conversations about family and specific memories. It really is so special to each of the guests that they have a connection with, at least, one person to realize that they are still cared about.
There is a group of gentlemen that have found one another and stick together. They watch each others’ backs and have developed a great sense of camaraderie. Although they often arrive at the center in different waves, there is always a point in the day in which they are all together. I have a great connection with each of them, but I love talking to them as a whole. They bounce off one another and share their stories with such lightheartedness. They all genuinely listen to each other as well. I think it’s so beautiful that they’ve found each other because they are all from different states and each has a very different story. Between them, however, is a beautiful understanding, level of trust, and almost a brotherhood. They support each other and encourage the other to stay away from trouble and to do what they have to in order to move forward.
And they keep me in the loop…
I’m forever overwhelmed with the emotion of love for those I work with. I’m so grateful for this experience.
Until next time ;]