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Chapter XVI

Dear Hollie,

A lot has happened since I wrote last. A month of lessons in the Hanson basement have gone by. I told you about the concert at the mall, right? Well, if I didn’t, here goes:

I was setting up the wires thinking about how I could get through the concert with out my friends knowing I was back stage. As long as I stayed behind the partition, I figured, I would be fine. Then Isaac comes up to me and asked me if I wanted to sing, that Taylor wanted me to. I knew the words and everything, and I knew I was pretty good at it, but I kept thinking about Aimee and Beth and Dawn and everyone. They would hate me if they knew I was so close to the Hansons. Especially since I had lied about it. Then Taylor appeared and I just couldn’t let him down. I just coudln’t! So I said I would, if I had something decent to wear. Then Isaac gives me his credit card and says to go buy whatever I wanted. So I go to The Gap and buy this cute little baby blue cropped tee I saw there. I was already wearing my baggy jeans and my clear belt, so I knew it would make a good outfit. I was on my way to the restroom to change when I spotted Aimee and Beth.

They were so excited about the show! You could just TELL. So I just waved to them and went on my merry way. Soon I found myself backstage. It wasn’t a real concert, but it seemed as if it was. I was so excited and nervous!!! Then the boys went on stage and they were so GOOD!! I kept thinking that I couldn’t let them down! So I go on stage when they called me and I could just HEAR Aimee and Beth and everyone gasping. I waved to the crowd and smile and took my place behind the mike. And I sang the song. Perfectly, too! At least according to Taylor. He must have liked it since he kissed me on the cheek when I was finished! I bet Aimee fainted. My rhythm was a little off I thought, and I KNEW I was a little flat, but I think I did pretty good. I don’t even remember what happened after the concert. All I remember was falling asleep with stars in my eyes.

The next day, Sunday, was my date with Anthony. We met in the park and walked to the movie theatre. We saw the new Jim Carrey flick. Anthony paid. He refused to let me! We found seats towards the back (of course) and watched the movie. We held hands. I was happy, but I couldn’t help but think of Taylor. He kissed me goodbye on the cheek in the park and I walked home very confused.

Anthony and I met a couple of times in the park, just to talk. When I brought up the Hansons Anthony spat and said that he hated “that bastard” Taylor. Of course I tried to defend him, but when Anthony explained, I figured that he had a right to hate him. See, when they were younger, both Anthony and Taylor were on rec soccer teams. Both of their teams had flawless records until the championship game. Taylor’s team won, 1-0. The only goal came when Taylor faked out the goalie and narrowly got it in. Anthony was the goalie. He never played soccer again. I felt so sorry for him! Then I told him how close the Hansons and I were and said that Taylor wasn’t that bad and Anthony broke up an dumped me! Now, not only did I have no friends (Aimee and everyone hadn’t so much as waved since the concert), but no boyfriend as well. Life was not good.

The Hansons are recording now. They go every afternoon. So I’m even lonlier. I’m taking singing lessons twice a week at the teatical academy, so that helps, but the year is just going by sooo slow. Daddy says that if we can get 180 days of school in by April, we can go to London for the summer (Daddy’s only days off are in April and May, he has to work the whole summer!) So we’re going Saturdays and Sundays. I hope we can go! After London, we’re going to tour Europe! But Daddy and Mr. Hanson won’t be with us, as they will have to go back to the states. Daddy also says that once the album is released, he won’t have to work one on one with the Hansons anymore and we will move again. Maybe I’ll go to a real high school this time!! Daddy says not to Austin, though. Someplace up north, like Chicago, New York (!!), Boston, Philly, or Pittsburgh. There’ll be lots of snow!!!

Congrats on making the dance team!!



Chapter XVII

The winter passed, as Dana was sure it would, though it did so rather slowly. Zachary’s and Isaac’s birthdays passed. There were weekend trips to New Mexico and Colorado. (Dana had liked Brekenridge, Colorado the best, the skiing was so great there and it was a nice little town.) Chistmas even passed rather quietly. Dana and Hollie gradually ceased writing and their lives were almost completely cut off from one another’s now. Dana had made few friends since the concert at the mall. Peggy and her sisters was always around. Shooting baskets with Isaac, rollar blading with Taylor and Zachary, playing Barbies with Jessica and Avery, and hanging out with everyone. The boys’ album was recorded and said to hit stores sometime in May, while they were in Europe. The first single, MMMBop was going to come out the beginning of April. Lessons were almost overwith, since they had been going nights and weekends in order to be able to go to Europe in April. (Though they could’ve very well taken their books with them, but then it wouldn’t have been a real vacation.) So, Dana was pretty much contect with life.

March rolled around, and Taylor’s birthday came with it. Dana’s was also in the spring (April second) so the two families started planning a joint celebration. They would both be turning 15. A party was sheduled for a weekend between their birthdays. The Peirsons were invited, and some friends of Taylor’s. Dana invited the few friends she had left. Dora, who was and orphaned and raised by her two ancient aunts, Abby, who was an only child and a bit spoiled, but not in a bratty way, and Randi, who was just all-around sweet. Dana liked them because they weren’t obsessed with the Hansons. (Dora had never even heard of them before!) Dana had met them all through the theatrical academy and they were all in the March children’s performance of Mary Poppins. Dora and Abby acting (Dora was Mary and Abby was Mrs. Banks. Since it was a children’s performance, all the acting and such was done by children. Once you’re sixteen, you are no longer a child in the theatre.) Randi was the lead dancer, and Dana the main female singer. They were all very excited about the performance.

Anyway, back to the party. It was mainly just an informal cookout in the Neilson backyard for all the family’s (Abby’s came in a hired car and walked her out on a red carpet....Abby hated it, but her parents were delighted at their little star....she is a bit spoiled afer all), and then all the teenagers were going down to the Hanson basement for the “real” party as Dana called it, even though gifts and cake would be done upstairs.

The cookout was a huge sucess. All the parents admired Kevin’s cooking (which really was great) and their beautiful backyard. The cakes (there were two, of course) were great, too. Dana’s was a Baskin Robbins ice cream and Taylor’s was a cookie cake. After gifts were exchanged and opened, (A lot of money was exchanged, as well, as both Dana and Taylor were hard to buy for) the teenagers set out for the basement.

They gathered in the Hanson’s rec room. Some on couches, some on the floor, whichever felt comfortable. Isaac, Taylor, Zachary, and Dana were there, of course, along with Pauline, Paige, Peggy, and Patricia Peirson, (17, 16, 14, and 12), Taylor’s friends Greg, Jamie, and Jesse (15, 14, and 15), and Dana’s friends, Dora, Abby, and Randi (14, 15, and 14). Fourteen people! The room was kind of crowded. Dana rummaged around and found a video. She popped “Independance Day” into the VCR and looked for a place to sit. There were already three people on the one couch, and four on the other, but Dana thought “It’s my party, I should get a good seat” even though she thought that was kinda of selfish.

Eventually, she decided on the three person couch. There was a little spot between Taylor and Randi, and she asked them to scoot over. This plastered Randi on Jamie, but she didn’t seem to mind. Plus, Dana was next to Taylor. He hadn’t hardly spoke to her since the concert, and this was certainly the closest she’d been to him in a while. She liked it, and hoped he did, too.

Taylor was thinking “Yes! Yes! She sat next to me!” Taylor had been shy around Dana since the concert and was busy waiting for her to make a move. Now that she had, Taylor pondered over what to do. Finally, since they were pretty squished Taylor decided to put his arm around Dana. He leaned over and whispered in her ear, “Happy birthday.”

Dana, in seventh heaven, since she still DID like Taylor, said, “Happy birthday.” She paused, then said, “You should’ve done that a long time ago.”

All to soon the movie ended, and the talking began. They all talked about everything under the sun, from music to the weather, to school, to Clinton. And Taylor kept his arm around Dana the whole time.

You should have seen the look on Peggy’s face. Or worse, the ones she was giving Dana.

Chapter XVIII

That night, two happy fifteen year olds lay in their beds thinking. Taylor was thinking how Dana had liked him all along and just never showed it. Dana was thinking how Taylor had liked her all along, just never showed it. They both fell asleep looking out the window, and, though it was dark and they didn’t know this, into each other’s eyes.

The next day, Saturday, Dana had a rehursal for Mary Poppins, so she set off that morning for the academy. She had left early to enjoy the leasurely walk. All the flowers were blooming. Whites and reds and blues and pinks dotted the landscape. She passed Peggy’s house just as she was thinking how perfect the day was.

Peggy was out shooting baskets into the battered hoop when she saw Dana. Dana didn’t notice that Peggy had stoped and was coming toward her, as she was too busy looking at the flowers. “And just what do you think you were doing last night?”

Dana stopped short. “Enjoying my birthday party.”

“Bet you wish it was just a private party with you and Taylor.”

“No, I liked having my friends there. Of course, you could have left at any time.” Dana now knew what Peggy was getting at.

“I bet Taylor hated that party.”

“Just because he had his arm around me--”

“You think I’m jealous. Well I DON’T GET JEALOUS!!” Peggy took a step towards Dana and whispered, “I get even.” Peggy took another step.

Dana, now afraid, even though she was normally a very brave person, just not used to people threatening her, took a step back.

Just at that precise moment, a car drove by. It was Isaac!! “Isaac! Isaac!” Dana yelled. He pulled his pickup to the side of the road.

“Get in, I guess I’ll drive you.”

“Thanks!!!” Dana jumped into the truck and told Isaac where she was going.

“What was she all about?”

“Jealous that Taylor likes me.......does he like me?”

“For a while now.”

“If only I could have known....after the trip to Europe I’ll be moving.....and I might never see him again.”

“Oh, you’ll see us. We’ll make sure to come and visit you. Plus, Kevin is predicting that the album is going to be big, so....”

“You’re going to be famous all over the world, not just Tulsa.”

“Yeah. I kinda don’t want it, but not really. Taylor could care less, but in a good way, you understand, and Zac loves the attention.” The pickup pulled in front of the theatrical academy.

“Thank so much for the ride, Isaac, and I feel so much better now!!” Dana reached over and gave him a hug. He had become like a big brother to her. She jumped out of the truck and ran into the academy.

Chapter XIX

Dear Journal,

I am resigned to writing to you as Hollie no longer answers my replies. For the first time in a long time, I am without a best friend. What have I gained, with the losing of my best frined? An enemy and a boy who posibly might like me more than a frined......ok, so he also happens to be a cute boy.

I’m sorry if I am confusing you in my first entry, but I have a lot to say and only confusing words to say it with. Since I will permit no eyes other than my own to read these words, it will not be necessary to begin at the beginning. I shall begin with the Mary Poppins performance last week.

The March childrens show at the theatrical academy was a smash hit. Dora was a wonderful Mary, the best I’ve ever had the privilege to see, aside from the actress who played Mary in the Disney film. Abby was great at Mrs. Banks, and Randi’s dancing brought standing ovations. My singing was the best it could have been, as the mikes were not working as they should be. I also had to sing dispite a costume that was not made for me, and therefore did not fit correctly. The crowd did not seem to mind and after the finale Taylor brought a bouquet of flowers up for me. Zachary, Jessica, and my father also came with flowers, but Taylor’s were by far the best since his came with an unexpected kiss on the cheek. He is so thoughtful.

I sat in my room that night and thought of him, trying to make out what my feelings are. I thought until my eyes closed in slumber and came to no conclusion that I could remember the next morning. My dreams that night were a jumble of confusion, but that was no surprise, since my mind held the same jumble.

Peggy had her downfall a few days later. She knocked on the Hanson’s back door as Taylor, Isaac, Zachary, and I were practicing the song that Isaac wrote for me and Taylor to sing. It is called Peace By the River and is very beautiful. Isaac is a very talented writer, and Taylor as equally talented musically. I haven’t yet figured out Zachary’s talent, but he is good at both singing and writing. Anyway, I am getting off the subject.

Peggy knocked at the door during a very critical part in the song and Isaac was not happy when he opened it. She, unfortunately for her, did not notice this and pushed past Isaac. She walked into the room where a bored Zachary was still banging on his drums and a confused me was looking over an exasperated Taylor’s shoulder at the music. I was bending over to peer at it more closely when Taylor reached around my shoulder to point out a complicated measure that I had been messing up on.

Peggy snorted and walked over to Taylor and me. She asked if he wanted to go see a movie, completely ignoring me and everyone else. Taylor said no, that he was working. Then Peggy asked if she could watch. Taylor saw nothing wrong with this at the time, especially since Peggy’s musical IQ was even less than her real one, if that is posible. She could watch as long as she was quiet and did not inturrupt.

We began the song again. I must say now that is is a pretty romantic song. Slow music, lovely lyrics, you know. I was concentrating my hardest when we got to the difficult part. I messed up again, though not as badly as before. We continued the song and finished without any more major mistakes.

Zachary, Isaac, and especially Taylor complemented me and said that I was doing even better, considereing how difficult the piece was. Peggy just snorted and said that I was too flat the entire piece and that if I couldn’t sing, why was I in the first place? No one answered her. She was being ignored by everyone in the room.

Taylor decided that he had had enough of that song and wanted to sing one of the ones on their new album with me. (The album had been recorded a few months prior and was set to be released in early May). The song was another slow one, not written by the Hansons, but by a songwriter, called I Will Come To You. I had sang the song only once before and it was sort of complicated, but not as bad as Peace by the River.

We went through the song and after we finished, Taylor complimented me on how good I sounded with them. Peggy was mad by now. She said that I was not good enough to sing with such talented musicians and that I should just go back to my precious Austin. She also said a few other things, but I do not wish to remember them at this time.

Taylor was very mad by this time and told Peggy to get out. She swore at him and spat at me. Isaac told her to get out or he would call the police and she said that she didn’t care, that she was friends and friends could be in friends houses. Then Taylor said that she was never his friend, that he was just nice to her because no one else was, which is true.

Peggy left then, almost in tears. I almost felt sorry for her, but not quite.

The practice was over then, too, and I went home. I was up in my room when, just a few minutes later, Taylor and Zachary appeared at the door. I invited them in. They each sat on one side of me. Taylor at my right, Zachary on my left. Taylor apologized for what had happened, that Peggy had liked him all along, and how bratty and selfish she was. Zachary said that she didn’t know a thing about music and that I was really good. Taylor agreed with him.

By this time I was close to tears and, being the sensitive person that he is, Taylor realized this and put his arm around me. I cried into his shoulder. Zachary hugged me, gave me a kiss on the cheek and left, saying that things would get better soon. I don’t know why, but I believed him then, and still do.

I didn’t cry for long. Soon, I pulled away from Taylor, tucked my knees up under myself and hugged them to my chest. I said that I was sorry for ruining any friendship that he might have had with Peggy.

Taylor insisted that they were just neighbors, aquaintences, nothing more, and I believed him. I asked him when we were going to Europe, maybe things would be better for both of us there. He said that our plane left this Saturday morning. It was Monday. I needed to pack. I needed to shop. I was in a panic, but Taylor calmed me. He said that Isaac was driving the four of us, the three badn members and me, to the mall bright and early the next morning to do some heavy duty shopping.

I felt better then and told Taylor he could go home if he wanted. He stayed a few minutes, then left, with a promise to see me at 10 the next morning. (School for us had ended the past week. We had studyed seven days a week for the past few months to get ready for this trip, and we deserved it).

The next mroning we drove to the mall in Isaac’s pickup. Him and Taylor in the front, me and Zachary in the back. It was a fun trip. Zac (he said it was ok to call him that now, but I an very uncomfortable with nicknames, ever since Billy Fontana called me Neily after a popular cartoon character in second grade) belched the words to MMMBop and when we finally had had enough and Isaac turned on the radio, the DJ was announcing that the next song was brand new stuff from Hanson! Then he played MMMBop and we all sang along. The boys had begun to break nationally.

We shopped that day until we dropped, literally. Zac and I were sprawled out on one bench, Taylor on another, and Isaac on a third. Our shopping bags were all around us. When we went home that day I was happy for the first time in a long time. I may not have a best girl friend now, but I had three of the best guy friends in the world.

Chapter XX

Dear Journal,

Dana has me on this journal thing. She won’t let me read hers but she says that it helps her get all of her feelings down on paper. So here I go, just remember, I’m no writer. I’ll begin with last Thursday.

We were all packing frantically. My brothers and I had emptied the contents of our closets, and garments were strewn around the room. Zac had turned the radio up full blast, and the music filled the room along with clothes. I took a break and glanced out the window at Dana’s room. She was having the same problem! Her room was a mess with clothes as well, only she didn’t have to argue with two other people about what to bring.

Finally, Ike, Zac, and I reached an agreement on clothes. I thought it would never happen!! And we weren’t traveling light, either, not by a long shot.Between us and the Neilsons, we had over twenty bags!! We took three cars to the airport. Me, Dana, Zac and Ike in Ike’s pickup, Dad and Mr. Neilson in his pickup (all the luggage was in the pickups) and the rest of everybody in our van.

The airport was a mad house. I had just been there a few weeks ago, for the MTV shoot, but it was still a mad house. I will never get used to airports. We loaded half our bags onto those little carts and Dad and Ike went to get them checked. The rest of us headed in a pack towards the gate.

Once we were all boarded on the plane (a Boeing 727) and in the correct seat, the excitement died down. The “excitement” was all the people who had reconized us. We simply refused to be slowed down, since we did have a plane to catch (we usually acknowladge our fans).

Since we had booked the flight so far in advance, and the people at Mr. Neilson’s company had insisted on first class, we ended up with six first class seats, and five in coach. Dad, Kevin, Dana, Ike, Zac, and I sat in front, everyone else in the back.

There was some debate on who would sit with who, since the first class seats are grouped in twos. But, fortunately, we settled this quietly. Dad and Mr. Neilson (he insisted on Kevin, but I’m kinda uncomfortable with that) sat together, Ike and Zac (Zac with the window seat he insisted on) behind them, and Dana and I accross the aisle. Dana said I could have the window, which was nice of her, since I’ve ben on airplanes more than her. I only agreed if she’d take it on the way to London. She agreed.

The flight to Atlanta (the intermidiate stop on the flight, since Delta doesn’t go straight from Tulsa to London) lasted just under two hours. Then came the almost impossible effort of getting everyone and all the suitcases from the 727 on concorse A to the L10-11 waiting to go on to London on concorse E. The checked luggage would (hopefully) be already on the bigger plane.

The trip from concorse A to E was the difficult part. The Atlanta airport was busier that Tulsa’s. First, we had to find the escalator to the train, then get off the train (actually a little underground tram kinda thing that linked the concourses) at the right stop, then find the right gate on concourse E. We must have done it in record time. All over this airport, too, there were people who reconized us, but this time we didn’t stop, since there was just no time!!

When we finally got on the plane we were exhausted. By now it was really late, about 11:30 or 12:00, Tulsa time, which was 1:00 Atlanta time, and 6:00 London time, the stewardess said. Dana was exhausted, and soon fell asleep with her head on my shoulder. I looked around, ‘cause I didn’t know what to do, but Ike just smiled (he was almost alseep) and Zac gave a cheerfull thumbs up sign. I sighed and tried not to move. It was a long time before I got to sleep.

Three and a half hours later (about, I’m not sure, since the time thing was confusing) we were awoken for breakfast. Since we were in first class it was pretty good, a fruit saled, and a begal. After a movie (some boring political thing) we touched down in London.

Ok, now for the confusing time thing. When we got to London it was about one in the afternoon, local time, but it felt like seven in the morning to us, since we were still on Tulsa time. Dad said it would take a few days to get used to it. So, for the rest of the day, we just hung out at the hotel.

Kevin had booked FIVE rooms!! Dana and us three had two that adjoined; Mom, Dad, and Mackie had one that adjoined to the girl’s room on the other side of us, and Mr. and Mrs. Neilson had one on the other side of Dana. The rooms were pretty big, as hotel rooms go. They had two beds (we stashed most of our clothes (the ones that couldn’t fit in the small closet) on the other bed in Dana’s room), a dresser, a pretty big TV, two chairs by the balcony in kind of a living room kinda thing, with another TV, and a little counter with a refrigerator and a microwave.

We thought we were going to bed early (8:30 Tulsa time) but it was really 2:30!! So we just decided to bare with it and get up at 8:30 Londo time, with just 6 hours of sleep!! Oh well. Better to get used to the time change quicker I guess.

And that was how we got to London. (Dana are you happy that I wrote so much??)