This year I spent my 27th birthday the same way I spent my 13th birthday – watching a fellow Libra jump up and down on stage belting out my favorite songs.

Me and Gwen Stefani, well, we go way back.

I was only 6 years old when No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” music video was released in 1995. Although I may not have fully understood the song’s feminist meaning, I knew that I loved it and that I would always love it.

Oh, I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite

So don’t let me have any rights

Oh, I’ve had it up to here!

That little girl was right. The song is still one of my favorites and Gwen, she couldn’t be higher in my book. Not only do we share my favorite season and astrological sign, but her lyrics speak to me. Sure, she took a break from her loose-lipped lines and love ballads after she parted from No Doubt, but I carried on as an adoring fan. Now she’s back and I couldn’t be happier for her (and me).

I first saw her in concert during the No Doubt Rock Steady Tour in 2002. I went with my dad for my birthday – we sat in nosebleed seats practically behind a pole, but my little eyes were fascinated with her as she whipped her long platinum blonde ponytail around from the stage. I took pictures (which may have never been developed?) with a disposable camera and my dad bought me what was the most expensive shirt I owned: a $30 No Doubt tank top.

The $45 Gwen Stefani shirt that I bought at her concert in Mountain View a couple weeks ago has since commandeered that position in my closet. Sure, it’s more than I’ve ever paid for a shirt or any article of clothing for that matter, but this is GWEN we’re talking about.

I, of course, wore the No Doubt tank top to this most recent concert (yes, it still fits!) along with black tights, a black skirt with wildcats on it, my Converse and red lip stick. Although I didn’t break out my old-school arm warmers, I did channel my teenage self when getting dressed … and the compliments on my fashion choice flowed in throughout the night. (Yes, I’m sure Gwen would approve. Thank you.)

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Even though I was on the lawn, I still had a better view than the first time 14 years ago and when Gwen took the stage I was transfixed. I was transported through time as she played not only her new “This is What the Truth Feels Like” album, but also hits from her solo career as well as her No Doubt days. There may have been hundreds of people singing and dancing along with me on the lawn, but I didn’t know it. To me, it was just me and Gwen.

I sang. I danced. I shouted. And the speakers were loud enough to drown me out.

It was bliss. I nearly cried tears of joy.

There is no other celebrity who could make me like this. I’m no fangirl, I’m no tabloid reader (usually). But Gwen is different – she’s carried me through first loves, heartbreaks, and self-esteem issues.

And, as she’s been writing songs referencing her recent divorce, I relate even more to her lyrics. We’re passionate girls, we Libras, and we’ve got to stick together. So, happy birthday Gwen and happy birthday, me – we can only go up from here.

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. Jersey Girl runs every other Sunday. Follow her on Twitter at @RiaSestito or email her at msestito@napanews.com.

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Public Safety Reporter

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She covers breaking news as well as crime and courts. Maria came to the Napa Valley Register in 2015 after working at as a reporter and photographer at The Daily News in Jacksonville, NC. S