Soaring with Rise to 5

“So… let me get this straight… I flew out 2,000 miles to see a gym,” Jesse asked as he gave me a bizarre look. I flirtatiously gave him a smirk in response without saying a word. I opened up a door to a pitch-black room. “Hey, Janelle! Hit the lights for me, would ya,” I shouted to the front desk. Suddenly, the lights came on to reveal our dance studio in the fitness center.

“Again, I hate to sound redundant, but I have seen a dance studio. Remember, I am a member of a boy band.”

I tried so hard not to slap him. Yes, I love this guy. Shoot, who wouldn’t? Jesse MacManus was 1/5th of the highly popular boy band Rise to Five. His group reunited a year ago after spending 10 years a part. So, the guy’s 12 years older than me (I’m 21 if you’re asking). Age ain’t nothing but a number, right?

“Look, Jesse I don’t have act all gushy around you, because you get it all the time. But let’s look at the situation here. You’re on my clock. I won this raffle fair and square. I supported the charity, and the prize says that you spend the day with me doing whatever I planned. I’m not a princess, but I am woman of principal. So, you have 2 choices: get on the next flight out to LA or stay here and experience something new.”

The room hushed down to silence. The only noise was the hum of the fan.  I was waiting for a response. For 5 seconds, I felt like an idiot. The only chance I ever had of meeting Jesse could have potentially ended right there. Thankfully, he broke the silence and smiled.

“Sorry, Jasmine. I was being a divo right there. I don’t know what we were doing, and to be honest I’m a little nervous. This is the 1st time I’ve ever done anything like this.”

“It’s Ok! You weren’t being a divo. I totally understand though. It’s like the whole ‘If I wanted you to read me word-for-word what’s on the sheet of paper, I would have read that at home’ concept. But, apology accepted. NOW LET’S DO THIS!”

Even though were “working out” I still wanted to look my best. I had on my form fitting yoga pants, and skintight tank. I got the clothes for a great price, because I was a Zumba instructor. The job helped pay the bills, and it was such a great workout! I love dance, and using it to help exercise was the best.

It was so funny to see Jesse try to keep up! He thought Zumba was like his boy band moves! The choreography might seem simple, but the trick is to stay on top of things and remember which part of the choreography goes with each musical section.

I blasted one of the Rise to 5 songs, and for the next couple of minutes I showed him that his group wasn’t the only one with moves. I started popping and locking, and dropping it low! I have to admit; I’m usually not that brave.  Whenever I hear music, something happens to my body. In order to really enjoy any type of dancing, you have to be able to lose yourself in it. Your heart and soul have to sync up with music, and that’s something that can’t be taught. You either connect with the music or you don’t.

Dabbing my forehead with the towel, I took a moment to catch my breath after dancing for an hour.

“You do this multiple times a week,” asked Jesse.

“Yeah, I mean it’s not anything like the dancing you do, but a lot of people have lost weight while taking class. Plus, for me it’s just fun! I used to dream about being a back up dancer for you guys when I was younger. This is just a fun way to get in shape, and play pretend at the same time.”

“No, I seriously respect what you do! I mean that merengue is no joke! You have to have a lot of energy for that!”

“Well, thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it! You ready to head out? Dinner with the family will be in 30 minutes.”

We started heading out, when suddenly my heart dropped. I was having such a great time with Jesse, and then Angela walked into the studio.

Angela is “Miss Thing” as they would call her.  She’s not only pretty and smart, but she’s also talented. Angela had everything any girl would want. Except she chose to put others down, because she knows she’s intimidating.

“OH. MY. GOSH. Jesse MacManus from Rise to 5! What are you doing here,” she squealed in her irritating voice.

“Hey! I’m sorry you are…”


“Nice to meet you, Angela.”

Jesse turned to glance at me, and for that one moment he knew something was bothering me.

“Angela, could you give me a second.”

“SURE! I’LL BE RIGHT HERE,” she screamed at a decibel equivalent to an ambulance. She whipped out her cell phone within seconds, probably to text every living human being with a pulse to gloat.

“Is everything ok? You look a little agitated.”

“Yeah, I’m fine, Jesse. Angela’s not exactly the nicest person.  I’ll have to tell you the whole story in the car.”

“Ok, I just wanted to make sure everything was ok.” He turned to Angela with a polite smile.

“Angela, it was nice meeting you. See you soon.”

It took a lot of breath, but I told Jesse everything about my “frienemy” relationship with Angela. We’re civil towards each other, but secretly we both are 100% fed up as well. I met her when I was still a Zumba student. She had all the moves, she looked like a pro, and she had the attitude to go with it. I tried to be nice to her, but all she could do was ignore me like I wasn’t even there. Angela was so chummy with everyone else but me. One day, she crossed a line that made her even more upset with her.

I was talking to some friends of mine in the class, because I seriously considered becoming an instructor to get some extra cash. My face was filled with excitement, and I was feeling confident about getting certified to teach. She walked up to me and said, “OH! You… you can’t teach. I see you in class. You’re too weak and incompetent to teach. But Samantha you could!”

Any other day, that would have torn me to pieces and made me quit. I couldn’t let her get to me though. I worked long hours on perfecting choreography. After a lengthy time of studying, I went to the workshop and got my certification.

“Wow. I’m surprised you let her say that to you.”

“Look, Jesse… I don’t start drama. In fact, I despise it. Once you look at, I worked hard and something that would’ve ‘killed’ me made me stronger in the end.”

In my head I pictured my family embarrassing me by telling Jesse all my crazy childhood antics. Thankfully, they were sweet and made Jesse feel right at home. In fact, I think my mom wanted to keep him around as an older brother to my sisters and me.

Stacking the dishes one by one, I couldn’t believe the day I had. Usually, ladies would kill to have 5 minutes with Jesse or any guy of Rise to 5, but I had a full day with him. I showed him “The Walk of the Town” in Norman. I gave him a personal tour of my college at the university, and we ended it with a great meal with my family. So much time with someone that impacted my life so much. Soon, it was all going to be over. Tomorrow morning, he would go to the airport, and all of this would have appeared to be nothing short of a Cinderella story.

Before we said goodnight, I took him out to the backyard patio to go stargazing. We just sat there, drinks in hand thinking about how awesome of a day it was.

“You know. I had quite the day. Visited a college, learned a new form of exercise, and met a really sweet family.”

“I had a pretty phenomenal day too, Jesse.”

“Listen, we spent this whole day together, yet I don’t know what you want to do after college. So, what is it exactly that you want to do?”

“Dude, after seeing the Rise to 5 concert last summer, I’ve set my sights set on directing live entertainment. You guys put on such a fabulous show that it instilled something in me. It wasn’t all the glamour of the concert.  Knowing that a community gathered for one night to share each other’s company and joy with a wonderful group made me want to be a part of this environment.”

“Well, you certainly talked to the right guy. If you need anything, just let me know!”

“Thanks! Hearing that from you means a lot.”

“I’m serious. You’re talented, brilliant, and I know you can do it. But after seeing you doing Zumba, are you sure you wouldn’t want to be a back up dancer?” wink

“HAHA. No, I love dancing, but leave that to the pros who have been doing it for years.”

That night I could hardly sleep. It was so heartbreaking to think that the day I dreamed of for years would be over within a few hours. All I could do was just tug on my pillow and smile for the fact that it even happened.

Breakfast came way too fast. It seemed like the day was on warp speed trying to rush Jesse back to LA. His phone had been ringing off the hook, and pretty soon it’d be a while before we’d even see each. Hell, reality is we probably won’t see each other. But life has a funny way of rewarding your hard work sometimes…

Jesse shoved his last suitcase in the car, and turned around to take both my hands.

“Listen, Jasmine…. One day of not having to worry about interviews, rehearsal, and paparazzi made me feel so relaxed and refreshed. Plus, I had such a great time.”

“I did too, Jesse! Trust me… I’m gonna be remembering this for years to come.”

“Before I go, there’s something I want you to know. I called up my manager, and the next time we’re in town for our summer tour, you and four guests are getting the VIP treatment. Plus, I’m gonna make sure that you talk to the crew, the producers, the directors, and everyone involved so they know how awesome you are.”

“Wow! Jesse, I don’t know else to say but, ‘thank you!’” This kind of stuff never happens.”

“Yeah, well… when you work hard, dreams aren’t such an ill conceived notion. One last thing… I want you to close your eyes.”

He leaned in and delicately placed his hands on my face. My lips met his, and before I knew it, I got my first kiss…

Trying to catch my breath… I smiled an enormous grin.

“You can’t be serious. This stuff only happens in those cheesy romantic chick fiicks. What made you do it? Please tell me it wasn’t ‘cause you felt sorry for me not ever having a boyfriend, right?

“No, Jasmine… Although I’m a firm believer in charity, that wasn’t why I kissed you. You deserved to have your first kiss come from someone who cares about you. Not someone who wants to take advantage of you. Someday, you’re gonna showcase your talent to the world and I’ll be ready. Hell, all the “Angelas” of the world won’t even be able to touch you. For right now, just continue being you. Don’t let others walk all over you, and continue being strong. The ones who bring you down are the ones who are afraid of seeing you at the top.”

If only my brain could photograph those words and frame them in the hall of fame of quotes. With one last embrace, I sent him back to L.A.

This wasn’t the end. Sure Jesse would be extremely busy all the time, but I know we at least could stay in touch. I looked up at a plane in the sky. It symbolized who I was: someone who was tough, strong, and someone who could sore to new heights. Nothing stops a person who wants a dream bad enough. Even if that person admires a boy band or two along the way.

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