Like many mothers with daughters the age of mine, I’ve spent countless hours listening to Taylor Swift songs. I’ll remember her music as the soundtrack of their youth.
Her show at the Tacoma Dome will forever be their answer to question, “What was your first concert?” We sat in the nosebleed seats and almost got trampled trying to buy t-shirts. (Really, a man had to physically hoist my youngest out of the fray.) When we picked our oldest up from summer camp, we listened to “Shake It Off” the whole ride home. It came out during the week she was away. And recently, the re-released Red album helped put words to my girl’s painful breakup experience. No, a scarf was not involved.
Do I wish that I could be telling this story about someone edgier or more alternative? Of course. Just like I’d love to tell you that my first concert was Blondie or Prince instead of Dan Fogelberg.
And yet, there are plenty of reasons to admire Swift. She’s a prolific songwriter who has managed to conquer several genres, from country sweetheart to pop princess to indie folkster. She’s loyal her fans, cleverly creating social media “Easter eggs” that only they can appreciate. She’s a role model – reminding young women that their creations are no more the property of male bullies than their privacy or their bodies.
But here’s the really strange thing. Taylor Swift’s music makes me cry.
I can be singing along to a song with my girls and suddenly feel tears welling up. It’s kind of embarrassing. What about “she wears high heels, I wear t-shirts” or “we are never, ever, ever getting back together” could possibly have the power to pull at my middle-aged heartstrings?
I’ve spent hours trying to understand my physical response to this angsty, adolescent, lovelorn music. And while I can’t say that I’ve fully arrived at an explanation, I can say this: Taylor Swift helps me remember how it felt to be young.
She reminds me of the crush I had on someone who had a crush on someone else. Of sitting on my front porch talking to the boy I liked until 2 am or listening to a favorite song in his GMC Jimmy. Of my first deep heartbreak. And of that fluttery feeling of falling in love again.
Mostly, she reminds me that while I can recall some of these memories all too well, they are a part of a distant past.
Sure, I still feel “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.” But these emotions are heavy rather than airy. They aren’t experienced jumping around buzzed on a dance floor with friends but rather, most often alone, as I reflect on the state of the world and the state of religion and the state of our household. And the state of everything else in my life. As such they more permanent and far less magical.
I don’t know about you, but I no longer feel 22. And sometimes, that makes me cry.