Gwen Stefani so close but not close enough

Subject: Gwen Stefani so close but not close enough
From: Robin Yaffee
Date: 1 Aug 2016

It's 1982 Michael Jackson's Thriller album just dropped. I'm five years old and from the first beat I instantly became his biggest fan. I hounded and annoyed my mom like any good five year old could and she finally got me the cassette tape. The only music I owned before that was Christmas with the Chipmunks which I played with no cares if it was Christmas or not on my Sears and Robuck record player. So now with my Fisher Price tape player in hand and the greatest album of all time I retreated to my playroom to be alone with the King of Pop. I lived and breathed Michael Jackson. I started a club at school, I rocked a replica Thriller and Beat It jacket, my room was adorned with posters and trading cards of Michael. Any time he was on tv I had to watch it no matter if it was past my bed time or not, I didn't take no for an answer. I would come home from school and would immediately grab my tape player and practice the moves I would see him so easily pull off on tv. I soon wrote my first letter to him begging my mom to mail it off for me. I patiently waited for a reply. When I didn't get one the only logical explanation to me was that it must have got lost in the mail. A tour came to town I begged my mom to go but she was a single mom of three and didn't have the money for such things. So I continued to write letters and more letters. Weeks and months went by with no reply. I remember the feeling of despair. I was just a little kid I didn't understand he had millions of fans world wide and piles and piles of fan mail. The only thing I new was my idol didn't know how much he meant to me and how I wanted to be just like him. I felt crushed. Fast forward twenty seven years or so. I've traded in my Huffy bike for a minivan and am now a mom of three girls of my own, my dreams of ever meeting Michael long gone. Now my dreams are of making those of my daughter's come true. Cruising in the van with my little girls listening to music was just about a part of every day for us. The girls would always enjoy the music but seemed to particularly enjoy when No Doubt would be playing especially my middle daughter Merrin. A normally pretty quiet, subdued child when she would hear Gwen sing she would bounce around in her car seat and smile big. A couple years passed she graduated to a booster seat and now when she would hear No Doubt she would start to sing along. It was around this time that the Harajuku Mini line came out. I went to Target and bought a few pieces from the line as I thought the styles were so refreshing. I was so tired of rainbows, princesses and the color pink as I have three little girls. There was one piece I couldn't keep Merrin out of. It was a strawberry printed gauze material three tiered skirt. She LIVED in it! Seeing as how she loved Gwen's music and clothing so much I started showing her pictures of Gwen and her amazing style. She fell hook, line and sinker. I could see her eyes widen when she looked at the pictures. This was the beginning of her love for fashion. Merrin always loved to draw and I soon saw she was gifted when it came to art. She has always struggled with academics needing extra help at school but art she excelled in it. Her love for fashion soon started to come through in her art. She started drawing fashion models and clothing designs, and hair styles. A now ten year old girl she sits at the kitchen table and cranks out these amazing fashion sketches gathering inspiration from a pineapple sitting on the kitchen counter to the pine trees lining the side of the highway as we drive to the grocery store. A dream of becoming a fashion designer that sprouted in a little girls heart all from a No Doubt cd and a simple gauze skirt. A dream in which I will do everything in my power to help make come true. This past June I saw on my Facebook feed that Gwen Stefani was touring kicking it off right here in Massachusetts. What perfect timing as Merrin's birthday was going to be three days after the concert. Tickets to see Gwen for Merrin's 10th birthday and maybe just maybe a chance to meet her and have that dream of becoming a fashion designer burn that much brighter in her heart. I jumped right into getting tickets and saw there were "meet and greet" packages. My smile quickly waned as I saw that the price tag for two tickets would run me around $2000 of which I most certainly could not afford. So the other option was general admission in the pit. Still a lot for me to afford but it was the only other chance at Merrin's dream coming true. I told Merrin the surprise I got her for her birthday and though she was excited she was also nervous as she's pretty shy and being a concert she knew there would be a lot of people there. The week before the show Merrin decided to draw fashion pictures of some of the outfits that Gwen had worn in her videos throughout the years. She drew the pictures and wrote on each one which video it was from, stapled them all together in hopes she could give them to her at the concert kind of as a thank you for inspiring her love for fashion. July 12 rolled around and Merrin got ready for the concert, red plaid pants a black tank top, and some killer Vans high tops. Her best Gwenesque outfit. We got in my 72 Dodge Dart and headed out early to pickup our tickets and get a good spot in line in hopes of getting right up front in the pit. We got to the venue got our tickets and stood at the front of the line for over two hours so we could hustle in and get up front. We b-lined it to the pit area and low and behold there was one spot left just big enough for Merrin to squeeze into. There she was at her first concert just barely tall enough to see over the barricade and already exhausted from the two hour wait in the blazing July sun. Keeping her standing and awake was the thought of getting to see her idol perform and to give her the drawings she made her. After about an hour Eve's set began. The colorful outfits, flags waving and the thunderous bass in the music sparked a second wind in my little girl. Her eyes wide couldn't focus on one thing and were continually darting across the stage for the entire set. Eve finished her set and Merrin turned to me and said with a smile big and bright enough to light the entire arena, "Now it's time for Gwen!" When I explained to her that it was going to be a bit before Gwen's performance started her shoulders just dropped. This kid's tank was empty. After about an hour the lights went down and the music started. Merrin finally got her first look at her idol. Decked out in a cropped bolero style jacket, rose halter top, and red plaid pants Gwen commanded the stage and had more energy than most women half her age. Merrin looked up at her in complete awe! As Gwen sang songs that Merrin had drawn in her book she would hold it up over her head in hopes that Gwen would take it from her. Gwen finished her set which was pretty amazing by the way took her bows and started signing a couple of things fans were holding up. Merrin held her book so high but Gwen passed right by her not even shooting her a look and left the stage. Merrin was crushed. The feelings I had as a child about Michael Jackson came rushing back to me. I wasn't giving up. At the end of the stage was Gwen's personal guard. The venue security guard "Jimmy" that was in front of us all night got his attention. Gwen's guard took the book from Merrin and assured her he would make sure Gwen received it. A smile came back to her face but still not as big as the one she would have had if she was able to hand it to her personally. I put Merrin up on my shoulders and carried her out to the merch stand and bought her a tank top and a concert tee to help ease her disappointment. Outside of the venue we sat on the grass together and had a snack while we waited for some of the traffic to clear out. We looked at the tour buses just off in the near distance and talked about the show and Merrin watched the entrance way in hopes she would get one last look at Gwen perhaps even holding the book she made her. It was getting late and time for us to journey home. Merrin talked on the way home and she talked of regret which broke my heart. She said maybe if I danced more, maybe if I sang more that maybe Gwen would have noticed her. I explained to her the best I could that it wasn't anything to do with her that with all the people screaming and reaching out it is probably very overwhelming for someone even Gwen Stefani. I told Merrin that hope wasn't lost yet we could try to find out if she got the book or not by posting on Twitter. So I opened a Twitter account and we gave it a shot a couple of times. No success hence the reason for this letter. Maybe this letter will somehow make it to Gwen and maybe then Merrin will find out if her book of fashion made it to her and that dream of becoming a fashion designer might just burn a little brighter and stronger in her heart. Kids these days have so much to deal with in a world that is so uncertain and scary and can be lured away from their dreams. Help me keep Merrin's going please pass this letter along.
@gwenstefani #merrinisgonnadesignforyou

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