Sometimes you just know when you are destined to be friends with someone. You can tell by the way you happen to have all the same classes or happen to live in the same building or happen to like the same ice cream flavors. In this case, I knew we were destined to be friends when she started narrating my life. I would come home from school feeling lonely for no reason, and she knew exactly the words to describe my feelings. Throughout my adolescence I listened to her. The more that I listened to her, the more I felt a strange connection. Her words resonated so profoundly. Like we were living side by side. Like she knew all about my boat called life. Like she wanted to help me navigate.
So here goes. My life explained by the best friend I have never met: Taylor Swift.
When you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you you’re going to believe them. In your life you’ll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team. I didn’t know it at fifteen.
My first heartbreak (if you can call it that) happened when I was fifteen years old. I developed a crush on this husky, football player who was in dire need of a haircut. In English class he used to tease me by snatching my pencil pouch. Why was that so funny? On days when our teacher lectured on vocabulary words I would pass him a piece of paper with a tic-tac-toe board written on it. He wasn’t very good at that game. One day he invited me to come over to his house after school. He opened the door, and I walked into the house timid and blushing. There was nobody home. He suggested that we watch a movie. Gladiator. Then, right during the scene when Russell Crowe is kissing the feet of his dead wife while I was comfortably grimacing at the amount of slobber that Crowe could produce, my companion made one swift roll, and he was on top of me. That’s when I experienced the concept of slobber on a whole other level. The rest is an embarrassing blur. I struggled. He got off of me. He mumbled a little bit. He escorted me to the door. And we never spoke again. Thanks for the heads up, Taylor. Fifteen year old boys are losers.
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up. Just stay this little.
I have five younger siblings, but I’ve always felt a little favoritism towards my brother John Paul, the second youngest. He has a sheepish grin, ears that stick out, an affinity for building things, and zero book smarts. Whenever I think about being a protective older sister, I think about the day when I let baby Johnny out of my sight for one second. We were at my family’s lake cabin, and I was in charge of watching Johnny, who was probably three years old. At the time, I was much more concerned with frog catching than taking care of my brother. All of a sudden I heard a blood-curdling scream. John! He had wandered over to the swing set and sat down right on top of a bee’s nest that had formed on the seat of the swing. Poor Johnny was covered with red bumps. And it was all my fault. Johnny quickly forgave me, however, when my dad was rubbing ointment on the stings and said; “Hey John, maybe you’ll get a scar!” Johnny looked up hopefully with his fat lip quivering slightly and a single tear rolling down his cheek. James, who was older by three years, muttered, “lucky.” Oh, Taylor, I mourned years later thinking of this moment. Why can’t they stay like this forever?
This night, it’s sparkling. Don’t you let it go. I’m wonderstruck blushing all the way home. I’ll spend forever wondering if you know I was enchanted to meet you.
I was seventeen when I went on my first date with a boy who was worthwhile. I worried all day that we would have nothing to talk about or that my makeup would smudge or that I wouldn’t be able to stop blushing. Only the last one was true. We had just got back from a marching band trip to Seattle. He was a trumpet; I was a flag twirler. He had brown curls and brown eyes. After dinner when it was getting dark, he took me roller blading, which I would never do otherwise because I’m not a physical person. I remember that he let me hold his hands behind his back as he pulled me up a giant hill a couple blocks from both of our houses. Once we got to the top we would ride down side by side. I was terrified for my life the whole way down and laughed hysterically at the end. We did it again and again, and the night…sparkled.
I just want to tell you, it takes everything in me not to call you. I just want to run to you, and I hope you know that every time I don’t, I almost do.
I just finished my finals, and I was feeling happy and free because I knew I did well. I stood in my apartment alone waiting for something. I stared at my cluttered desk. What do I do now? Suddenly I felt all wrong. Like I didn’t belong in my own room. I reached for my cell phone. I started to look up his number. I sat with the phone in both hands just staring at it for an eternity. Then I put the phone back down. I know what you mean, Taylor. I almost do it too.
Here I am in my new apartment in a big city. They just dropped me off. It’s so much colder than I thought it would be so I tuck myself in and turn the nightlight on. I wish I’d never grown up.
I was telling my dad funny stories about my roommate the whole way to my apartment. “Can you believe that Meg wanted to start a compost pile? In our apartment? Don’t worry, Dad, I put the on kibosh on that idea. Although, the amount of fruit flies suggests that she might have started one secretly.” We pulled into the alleyway, and my dad got out to help me carry my things up the stairs. “Look, Dad. This is my kitchen.” Suddenly, I realized that I was actually showing my dad my kitchen. My kitchen. I looked at my serious, no-nonsense father. I noticed the gray in his hair and eyebrows. Was that always there? He seemed to realize the kitchen too because he gave me a hug for the first time since I was a little kid. I touched his calloused hands. My throat tightened. Daddy.
I don’t know what I want. So don’t ask me ‘cause I’m still trying to figure it out.
With the future lies so many unanswered questions. What is your major? Aren’t you afraid that you won’t make any money? Why aren’t you engaged yet? When are you going to start working out? Whenever someone asks me such a question, I share an eye-roll moment with Taylor. How am I supposed to know anything? The things that I want in the world are changing every day. Most of the time, I don’t know how I got to where I am or where I’m going to end up. I can’t imagine that Taylor always knew that she would become a nationwide-known pop-star. As Taylor said, I’m just a girl trying to find a place in this world. Well, so am I, Taylor. I hope that my dreams can come true just like yours did. Even though I hardly know what they are.
We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical. Tonight’s the night when we forget about the heartbreaks.
When I finally saw the real, living, breathing Taylor during her Red Tour in Minneapolis, Taylor sang these words, and I felt the meaning. I saw her on stage with thousands of fans waving and cheering. She had a whole stage full of musicians and dancers all there to support her. Yet, I noticed in the depth of her energetic and upbeat performance that she seemed…lonely. In living her dream, Taylor must spend her evenings far from family and friends. Instead, she is with creepy fanatical strangers like me. I was standing next to a sweet boy who bought me tickets to my dream concert. Taylor was standing alone on a floating pedestal smiling on unfamiliar faces. Miserable and magical.
The truth is that I probably know Taylor a lot less than I think I do. If we were friends in real life, I imagine that we would talk about cats, favorite frozen yogurt places, romance novels, and Downton Abbey. She would tell me the deep meanings of her songs, and I would pretend that I knew the symbolism all along. Then she would hire me as a paid publicity intern and we would travel the world and attend fancy parties. Hey, if Taylor taught me anything, it’s that I can dream.
You took a Polaroid of us, then discovered the rest of the world was black and white, but we were in screaming color.