We were all the way in Section 216. The concert had started but no one was standing, so we stayed seated.
Then she introduced the next song.
“Philly, you look so beautiful tonight. Actually, you’re a level above beautiful. And what’s a level above beautiful?”
“GORGEOUS!” The entire stadium roared.
I turned to my friend to say we should stand since we both loved this song. The words came out of her mouth before I even said anything.
We stood up and danced and sang along with the rest of our section gradually joining us.
A month later, and this is still one of my favorite memories from the entire summer.
I wasn’t going to go to her concert.
Even as I sit here typing this, that sounds ridiculous. Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love Taylor Swift and I can talk about her for hours on end. But I said this right after the bombing at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester and the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas.
I didn’t feel safe going to concerts anymore. What if something happened? Or what if Taylor got hurt? I wasn’t sure I could handle either of those scenarios. So I decided not to go.
Yeah, I would be sad to miss it, but I’d eventually get over it, right?
I went back and forth about it for three months, trying to hide my disappointment every time I saw a post online where someone shared how excited they were to have gotten tickets.
And I realized something: if I didn’t go to the concert, then I’d never have another chance to hear this new album live. I’d already made that mistake with her Speak Now tour. Did I really want to do it again?
So I texted my friend and asked her if she already had tickets. And in the off chance that she didn’t would she want to go together.
She didn’t and she was down to go together, which was all I needed to hear.
I ended up buying two tickets on February 13, exactly five months to the day.
The time came for the acoustic part of the concert.
She stood on the B-stage in the middle of the floor, softly strumming her guitar as she prepared to reveal the surprise song. She started talking to the entire stadium about coming back home to Pennsylvania and visiting her childhood bedroom, and I just knew.
Never Grow Up.
A few beats later, and I heard that all too familiar melody. I started singing along as the color on everyone’s light-up bracelets changed to a deep blue. And then I looked out into the vast expanse of the crowd.
And I started thinking about all the people who have grown up with her music, including myself and my friend. And how from ages 13 to 25, she’s always been my soundtrack for every moment: good, bad, and important. And I felt a lump growing in my throat.
By the time she got to the lyric, “I just realized everything I have is someday gonna be gone,” I was swiping under my glasses to catch the tears that were falling.
“I can’t believe I wasn’t going to go to the concert,” I said to my mom as we entered our house for the night. She’d come to pick me up after it was over and I’d been filling her in on everything.
The light-up bracelets. The inflatable snakes. Love Story, You Belong With Me, and all my old favorite songs of Taylor’s that she’d released when I was in high school. How I’d cried during Never Grow Up. The whole thing was spectacular.
“Aren’t you glad you didn’t miss it?” She replied.
“YES!” I said with the biggest smile on my face. “IT WAS THE BEST CONCERT EVER!”
Now she smiled.
Sometimes after a long week, I flip through my phone and look at pictures and videos from that night.
I get nostalgic like that after concerts. I miss them and wish I could go back. Just live in that beautiful, sparkly sea of people and be so in the moment that it feels as though nothing bad can ever happen to me.
It kind of reminds me of Cinderella in a way. You put on an awesome outfit, get away and dance for a few hours, but then midnight comes and it’s back to reality.
Well until the next concert.
And as much as I can’t wait for my next Taylor Swift concert, I’m still totally wonderstruck over this one. (Points awarded to you if you can name which of her songs I just referenced. Hint: It’s also from Speak Now). Reputation was so special not only because I almost didn’t go, but also because it’s my favorite album ever.
It’s the first of Taylor’s albums I got to review, the album I always have on repeat, and the album I fall that much more in love with after every listen.
Hold on to spinning around. Confetti falls to the ground. May these memories break our fall. // Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you.