My eighth birthday party took place at a Main Event. During a pretty intense game of bowling, the staff dimmed the lights and began to play music videos via a projector. I ignored the videos in favor of upping my bowling game, until a song with a softly strummed guitar and a twangy voice came on. I looked up from my game, and I was a goner.
The music video was Taylor Swift’s “Teardrops on My Guitar.” Ever since, I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time wondering what would have happened if I had never heard her song that day in the bowling alley. Sure, I never would have punched a kid in the face in fourth grade for telling me my passionate karaoke of Taylor’s newest song was “for cry babies and little girls!” and I probably would still be allowed inside the Target on Steiner Ranch Road (a pro tip: you’re not allowed to steal the cardboard cutout that stands next to CD displays). Although my life would certainly be a lot less crazy without having done all those things, I really don’t think that I would be the same person I am today if not for Taylor Swift.
The walls in my room are plastered with posters and interviews of her, either clipped out carefully or showing evidence of the fact that I cut them out when I was 10 years old. My obsession with Taylor has been part of me for eight years of my life, and everything about me shows that. I identify as a writer and today, words are an integral part of my identity, but it wasn’t always like that. Writing used to be a chore — until 8-year-old me discovered that Taylor Swift wrote all her own songs. The ability to weave words into something magical was already inside of me, but Taylor was the spark that lit the fire of a heart burning to write, devour and consume stories, books, poems and songs.
Her albums have always lined up with what my life was like at the time — Taylor Swift was our beginning, and Fearless was a time when we both had stars in our eyes and still dreamed about happy endings. Speak Now saw us a little disillusioned with fairy tales, but still believing in happily ever after. The Red album was a bad period in our lives, filled with intense swirling emotions, thoughts and actions that bred regret and hurt. 1989, her most recent album, is our rebirth, the album that reminds us that life will go on and things can be good again.
I’ve never been the closest with my family. My Red period of life certainly helped widen the gap that already existed between us, but Taylor has brought us together in ways I didn’t think possible. Ever since I was little, my parents have clipped any and all Taylor articles from their magazines and newspapers to give to me, a reminder that no matter how frustrated I might feel at them at times, they care about me and my interests. It’s always been our way of saying, “Hey, I was thinking of you because I love you, and I know you love her.” Our subtle communication through these newspaper clippings and articles has kept us together through the last couple of rough years.
Taylor Swift is my hero, idol, crush, role model and inspiration all rolled into one package. She’s become more than just a celebrity to me over the years, more than just a poster on my walls or a song on my phone. We’ve grown and evolved together, always changing but never forgetting who we are. She may be on the road to building her own empire, but I’ve been part of her kingdom since the start.