One year ago, I did not anticipate my writing this, to say the least, because even more, I did not expect this moment to ever actually happen. In my wildest dreams, sure, but never in real life. There was this one time in July 2017 when I dreamt that I met Taylor Swift three times by the holiday season, but once I was rudely awakened by my eyelids, I flipped over onto my hips, back to reality, much to my dismay.
In a spastic flurry, I grasped my “no older notifications” technological reminder, my bed-head bun a perfect depiction of how I felt–disgruntled and messy–and my cracked iPhone 6 screen a shattered glimpse into who I thought I was–alone and unwanted–when, in reality, I was not.
One day before the special evening of Oct. 19, not just because of the fact that it happened, but because I wasn’t sure whether I’d even be a student at this school, let alone on the campus newspaper. Basically, I was going through a difficult, self-judgmental time, not knowing all too well what I wanted to do with my life yet, and was being hypercritical of myself due to this.
Then, suddenly, flashforward to Oct. 12, 2017, when I received a confidential direct message from Taylor Nation, Taylor Swift’s official management team. While I sat outside the campus Starbucks café and watched a whole new life begin, with my eyes wide open and heartbeat erratic. Suddenly, smidgens of the pollution within my mind were washed away, and I embraced the clouded sunshine in a new, seemingly impossible way. How is this real life? I wondered, as I held my palm to my mouth and tried to contain my, ultimately, uncontrollable flood of emotions.
I didn’t know what to do in that moment. I initially assumed I had simply clicked on a notification from Taylor Nation’s Twitter page, per usual, not a message that was personally and intentionally delivered to me. I wasn’t used to this form of happiness, so I didn’t know what to do next, besides jump out of my seat and run towards the nearest tree. I ran underneath it, over and over again, and it just felt so good, yet entirely unreal and victorious, simultaneously.
I predicted what this indicated as soon as I read the direct message, in a luminous and electrified manner, my hands shaking and smile raking in all the glory, like the autumn leaves falling down and crunching below my brick red boots, all the pieces whisking into place. I felt a quickened breeze on my face and considered it a hint that I would finally be let free to feel wanted in this world, possibly by others–but most importantly, by me.
I am now writing this right before the anniversary of my meeting Taylor Swift in her Rhode Island mansion. I never predicted any of this, but I eventually saw the truth in me, as did Taylor.
The actual day this issue goes live, on Oct. 18, will mark one year since I got a sparkly purple manicure, knowing all too well that the next day would be refreshing and irreplaceable. A certain someone also compared my whimsical shade selection to a galaxy, and I told her it reminded me of her album, Speak Now, as she held my hand and looked endearingly at my polish.
Taylor Alison Swift wanted to meet me, so what else was there to do besides invite me to listen to her masterpiece that is reputation, in the classic comfort of her own home?
Before I continue, though, I must warn you: just like Taylor pleads for her loved ones to never become strangers, whose laughs she could recognize anywhere, I demand you to never even attempt to diss this sweet and sassy cinnamon roll, because I can ensure that we would be bound to become big enemies. I ask that you take your overused “victim-playing,” “but he made her famous,” “reckless dater,” society-influenced insults elsewhere–or, honestly, nowhere else–as I disregard the moment when one speaks on her character in a false manner, as should the hundreds of thousands of people who have already attended her sold-out reputation stadium tour.
I will never cringe when discussing the woman who showed me more affection than any of my other former friends had before, so there’s no worth in trying to make me.
Now that we’ve gotten this out of the way, let’s get back to the magical evening that was the second night of the Rhode Island reputation secret sessions.
To provide you with some lovely background information–over the course of a year, Taylor Swift handpicked 500 fans to invite into the comfort of her own homes, to listen to her newest album before its worldwide release on Nov. 10, 2017: London (Oct. 13, of course, because, 13 is her lucky number), Rhode Island (Oct. 18 and Oct. 19), Los Angeles (Oct. 22) and Nashville (Oct. 25). This message is forever glued into my mind–it has made its mark on me, like a golden tattoo, if you will (hello, “Dress”).
If you are still interested in learning more about this event, just search for “The reputation Secret Sessions” on YouTube. Ms. Swift herself has posted this delicate and delightful video, which makes me beam each time I hit replay. (Look out for me waving my hands right in front of her at 2:28 and 2:34, smiling my face off and nodding my head to the beat!)
As Taylor said herself in the video, “Everything about this album is a secret.” So, I can’t provide you with every single detail about this event, but what I can say is Taylor is the most caring and considerate individual in existence; I may sound biased, but it’s true. She’s even prettier and taller in person somehow too. This night was the best of my entire life, which will never sound like a stretch to me. If I ever get married, my husband will know which event takes priority.
“Secret sessioners,” as we’re called, listened to and discussed with Taylor the entirety of reputation, while we sat on her living room floor, which was made complete with pillows, blankets and warm hearts all around. I giggled with the recent friends I met within the two hours I’d known them; we realized what was going to happen, but we were still in shock. It wasn’t until Taylor walked through an entrance to my left, her knee-high, laced boots now closer to me than my water bottle, then it clicked–and we all cried.
I made eye contact and some quick-witted conversation with Taylor during this time. Even though my criss-crossed legs were cramped in place, none of that mattered, because I was literally looking up to the woman who I had looked up to for my entire childhood–and beyond.
We all mingled for some time afterwards, during which more secret events happened, then it was eventually time for us to meet Taylor with our plus ones and take pictures.
Anyway, you’re probably wondering how I was chosen for this, which is exactly what I asked Taylor. “I saw your tattoo on social media, and I was like, ‘oh my gosh, this girl is so cool.’” That’s right–the award-winning, cat-loving goddess lovingly and secretly follows her own fans, including me, apparently, and is then so compelled to speak with them that she arranges these secret events to do so, when she isn’t on social media, liking and responding to our posts that are both related and unrelated to her. This must be why she, oh, so, casually invited me to meet her again, at her reputation release party in NYC on Nov. 13, not even one month later.
I have a tattoo of one of Taylor’s song lyrics, which I got on Oct. 21, 2016. As you can see, October is an incredibly special and emotional time for me. The lyric is from her song “New Romantics,” which is an underrated song that pops off on her first pop album, 1989, which yet again introduced her to another genre to dominate.
I decided to tattoo “I could build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at me” on the left side of my back, just underneath my shoulder, because of all the weight that has burdened me as a survivor of middle and high school isolation and bullying. However, like Taylor, I now possess the power to rebuild my reputation, and I am capable of turning those false and negative insults, ones which were incessantly spewed at me, into innovative writing pieces of gold.
I don’t know what will happen to me tomorrow, next week, or 13 years from now. None of us do. But what I do know is that, over the course of this past year, any time I have felt lost or lonely, my two experiences meeting Taylor breeze upon me as a reminder to smile, and embrace the memories that I will forever hold onto.
When I met Taylor the second time, she excitedly hugged me and exclaimed, “It’s so good to see you again!” I simply can’t express how much these words still mean to me, as someone who has been abandoned by people who once meant the world to me.
I once described my meeting Taylor in her mansion as a “beautiful blur in the wind,” since the night left me wonderstruck, blushing in an unexplainable type of happiness, all the way home. The wind also brushed against my face, while I stood upon her balcony, observing the ocean and all its beauty, in my recollection of former figurative attempts to drown my past self–not just by my peers who had temporarily surrounded me, but even by myself.
Taylor and I both may have once lost ourselves, but we eventually found them, without needing someone else to save us.
Then Taylor found me, and I found myself loving life.
Taylor–thank you so much for everything. I will hold onto your words and these memories, forever and always. The best people in life truly are free, and you are the epitome of this sentiment. You taught me to be fearless, and you’ve shown me that any sense of fear is a hidden strength, simply waiting to blossom, underneath piles of seemingly polluted soil–which, in reality, is just nature that has been watered and self-granted the ability to grow.
And now I know.
“When she turned to go home,
she heard the echoes of new words
“May your heart remain breakable
but never by the same hand twice”
and even louder:
“without your past,
you could never have arrived–
so wondrously and brutally,
By design or some violent, exquisite happenstance
And in the death of her reputation,
She felt truly alive.” — Taylor Swift