#1989SecretSessions: My Day with Taylor Swift
Now that I’ve had a few days to digest and absorb what happened to me this weekend, I think I can now clearly write about everything (especially after recapping the story so many times to those around me).
On Saturday, September 20, 2014, I was blessed with the opportunity to meet one of my biggest idols—Miss Taylor Alison Swift.
It all started with an email from Taylor Nation on Monday, September 15 asking if I was interested in an exclusive opportunity. Five minutes later, I sent my response—“Yes!” A lovely lady followed up with a call the next day and detailed a time and location for Saturday.
That morning, I met a handful of amazing fellow taylorswift fans. Because we were not allowed to bring guests, everyone took the opportunity to mingle and get to know each other. None of us knew what the day would hold, but all of Taylor’s team kept telling us, “Get ready for a day full of fun.”
We took two limo shuttle buses up to the hills of L.A. and stopped in front of a large gate. We were told to walk up the driveway, and lo and behold, we were face to face with a beautiful home. The country, ranch-style, cottage looked like it would be the perfect home for Taylor. ”Just remember,” the team said, “this is someone’s home, so treat it as you would if you were a guest at any other home. Don’t touch anything or go through anything.” Deep down inside, we all knew this could possibly be Taylor’s house. We were led down a pathway at the side of the house where sandwiches, pizza, cookies, pastries, and water were available for us to have lunch. I peered into one of the side doors, thinking to myself, “That totally looks like the kitchen in some of Taylor’s pictures!” My hands were shaking as I tried to eat, but I was too excited and nervous! After all, Taylor’s publicist Tree and a reporter from the L.A. Times were standing right there! After the group spent time eating lunch, one of the Taylor Nation reps announced, “Do you guys want to go inside?” Everyone cheered a gleeful, “Yes!”
We entered a living room through the back door. Pillows strewn across the floor and an abundance of couches welcomed us along with fresh fall-scented candles. I looked to my left and almost died inside—on the wall was a black and white family portrait of Taylor and her family. We were definitely in her house. I seated myself on one of the floor pillows and nearly died again—sitting right in front of me on the mantle was Taylor’s Grammy Award for “Mean” and an MTV award. There was no doubt about it now! Once we all settled in, you could cut the tension and anticipation with a knife. Suddenly all of our dreams came true when Taylor herself peeked in from the hallway with a friendly, “Hey guys!” and Olivia in hand. An eruption of screams and squeals escaped the room, causing Olivia (and Meredith who was with Mama Swift) to jump. Tears filled the eyes of many. I tried keeping mine in, but my eyes couldn’t help but well up! We were here with Taylor in her living room!
"So my team and I…well mostly me…found and handpicked you guys from social. And I thought it’d be fun if we listened to my album and I told you what each song was about," she said, delighted. My heart stopped for a quick second as reality sunk in. Taylor hand-picked us! And we were going to listen to her new album before anyone else!
The album is wonderful. I fell in love with each song even more than the last. After a few songs in, we took a quick break. The most amazing part was that this experience truly felt like a handful of friends just hanging out with Taylor in her home and listening to music. I was able to speak with mama Andrea Swift. I told her that she must be so proud and she explained that Taylor was so excited for this day, even more than iHeartRadio (where she was the night before) and any other events. I then walked around the living area and saw Taylor standing in her kitchen doorway, sipping a Diet Coke (like straight out of an ad!), and casually talking with a few fans. As I moseyed over, I noticed photos of familiar places scattered on the walls around me—photobooth photos with Ed Sheeran, Taylor and Selena at the Notre Dame football game. I stood in the small group surrounding Taylor, and suddenly, she says, “I love your blue!” My heart skipped a beat. Taylor Swift just commented on my hair color! ”It was red for the RED Tour,” I told her. ”Really? That’s amazing,” she said. ”Are you serious?” I couldn’t believe it…I was having a conversation with Taylor!
After finishing up the rest of the tracks on the album, Taylor asked us, “Who wants to take pictures?” Another unanimous, choral, “Yes!” from the group. We then proceeded to take pictures in her beautiful backyard. As we stepped through the doorway, Taylor’s dad Scott was there to give each of us a hug and thank us individually for coming over. Taylor then steps through the doors holding Olivia and her “Mean” Grammy, followed by Taylor Nation reps holding a handful of AMAs. ”I brought props!” she announced. I was in the first group to take photos and we took a fun group pic where I was able to hold Olivia and sit next to Taylor on the bench. She put her arms around me, and I couldn’t believe the moment was real. As we started to leave, we each gave Taylor a hug. She gave me a big hug, exclaiming, “You fit perfectly here!” I grinned so big. ”It’s because I’m little!” I squealed.
As we started leaving the house, we were given a handful of 1989 swag: a tote with the album printed on it, a large and mini calendar, three shirts, and a keychain engraved with “1989 Listening Sessions Los Angeles, CA.” The day seemed almost over when we were called back to the house. Apparently Andrea said, “How will everyone bring home a polaroid if we only take group photos?” The solo pics with Taylor then happened, and I was able to have a second moment with Taylor, posing with her Grammy while she held Olivia. I gave her another hug and told her what an inspiration she was to me. She said, “Oh, thank you so much!” and as I walked away, she called, “See you later!”
Honestly, this listening session has been one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. I can’t thank Taylor, Taylor Nation, and everyone involved enough. Meeting Taylor was truly a dream come true—a once in a lifetime moment that I am so grateful to have been a part of. I loved Taylor before, but love her even more now and will probably love her forever because of this unforgettable moment. This day truly says something about Taylor, her family, and her team. Everyone was so friendly, nice, and excited for each of us. Taylor is just as kind, sweet, and amazing in real life as she appears on TV and in concerts. Her family is a constant support and loves her fans as much as she does.
Thank you, Taylor, for welcoming us into your home, into your music, and into your life. Thank you for baking us treats and for letting us play with Olivia. Thank you for sharing 1989 with us and bringing tears to our eyes (in more ways than one). Thank you for being you. You are such an inspiration and one of the best friends I’ve ever had (that I used to say I’ve never met). I’m so proud of everything you’ve done and can’t thank you enough for getting me through tough times, teaching me to be “fearless,” encouraging me to “speak now,” and more recently telling me that sometimes I just need to “shake it off.”
Thank you again, Taylor.
Long live all the magic we made…I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you.