I got up at 6:30 that morning and skipped showering so that I could head right out. I made a quick bowl of instant oatmeal, ate it, grabbed my camera and headed out the door. 6:45am and I was on my way to PA to spend a couple days with my sister, brother-in-law and adorable nephew. It had been six weeks since I last saw him (my nephew) and I was in need of some serious cuddle time. I turned on the country radio station, put my new 5-speed car into gear and headed down the Merritt Parkway, PA bound. 4 hours later I got off the highway, 20 minutes away from my destination when my phone started ringing. I didn’t recognize the number, and usually when that hppens I let it go to voicemail but this time….I don’t know, I just felt like I should answer it.
“Hi, is this Alicia?”
“Yes it is.”
“Hi Alicia, this is Cory Myers from Country 92.5…” (insert heartbeat instantly stopping. By me, of course, not Cory)
I knew there was only one reason should be calling. I was instantly both excited and heartbroken. 10 days prior to that I wrote to Country 92.5 asking if there is any way I could somehow get tickets to the Taylor Swift concert. I wanted to go with my little sister, Bionca, but the show sold out almost immediately. I wrote and told them the story of how my parents are adopting the 3 kids and how it has been the hardest on Bionca to have to say goodbye to her parents. She loves Taylor Swift and I knew that a night at a TS concert would be a really great thing for her. I was willing to do anything they wanted for the tickets. Seriously, anything.
“Alicia we got your email, and we have two tickets lying around here at the studio to Taylor Swift’s concert tonight and we would like to give them to you. Do you want them?”
I explained that I had just arrived the PA, and asked if I could call back within 30 minutes to let her know. Who does that? It’s like “DUH! Taylor Swift tickets!! YES, Please!” I didn’t know what else to say and I had too many things rushing through my head to make an immediate decision.
I called my mom and explained the phone call, called my sister to get her opinion, and then tried to figure out if I could even make it back in time. I pulled into my sisters workplace, we went out for lunch, and we agreed that it would be a great experience for Bionca if I took her to the concert. So back I went. To Connecticut. To try to get back in time for the concert. I knew that leaving PA at 1:30PM meant I would catch traffic going through New York during rush hour. In the process of talking on the phone to try to arrange ticket pickup (and…*ahem*….getting pulled over but not ticketed for talking on the phone), I somehow found myself on I-95 instead of the Merrit Parkway. Anyone who has ever lived in New England will tell you that I-95…especially during rush hour….is the the devil’s highway. No really, I swear it is. And there I sat. In a parking lot, on I-95. My GPS slowly kept updating the ETA until my ETA to Hartford was 6:58PM. The concert started at 7 and…remember…I hadn’t showered that day. I breathed deeply and reminded myself that there simply was nothing I could do. I would sit in traffic until I got home, and if it meant missing half the concert well….then I’d just be happy with half of it.
I pulled onto my street at 6:43PM (yes I speed as well as talk on the phone), ran up into my apartment and was back out in 10 minutes flat – showered, makeup’d, and hair done. Holla! My parents met me at my apartment to drop us off at the XL Center which is, thankfully, 3 minutes from me.
10 minutes later Bionca and I walked up the steps to the XL Center, my mind reeling from the 8.5 hours spent in the car that day, trying to figure everything out, and only seeing my nephew for 1 hour. I was on an adrenaline high and was hoping I could focus enough to enjoy the concert. We walked through the doors, her hand in mind, and she looked up at me and said “My knees are shaking because I am so nervous about this experience.” And right there, I remembered why I drove all that way in the first place. It was her first concert ever, by her favorites singer, in a year that will probably forever be looked at as one of the most challenging years of her life. And just like that, it was all brought back into perspective. We ordered popcorn and a soda and made out way into the arena where there were more screaming girls than I care to remember. And one sole man, two beers in hand, with a group of tweens jumping up and down around him. Good dad.
We got to our seats just as the opening act took the stage. A few songs played and it was time for the real show. Her stage set was elaborate, detailed, and well thought through. Taylor made a grand entrance by being lifted up from under the stage, complete with lots of smoke, lights, sparklers and screaming girls. If there is one thing that was consistent all night it was the screaming girls.
Bionca’s eyes lit up as Taylor played the opening bars of “Sparks fly”. It was like she was living a dream. And let’s be honest for a second here….my eyes were equally lit up. In the short 2 hours that passed by way too quickly we sang along every word of every song, together with 16,498 other people. It was the most unifying thing I have ever seen in my life. Between all her hair-tossing, coy looks and wavering vocals Taylor accomplished something I have never witnessed at a concert – inspiring hope in every single person there. Without saying it, she made each of us feel like we could shoot for the stars and reach for our dreams…and actually accomplish them. You know, those big audacious, scary dreams. The ones we hold close to our chest and don’t tell anybody about because they are so big. It was as though she was sitting with me at Starbucks, over coffee (or lemonade’s) and told me that those are the dreams I could…and should…shoot for. And I am pretty sure that everyone there – ages 5 to 75 – felt the same way. It was magical, really. I left feeling like I had just attended a motivational speech by Joel Osteen or Bill Hybels. My mind raced, and I got in touch with the little girl in me that has been put on the backburner for a bit too long. My hands were on fire and walked out of that arena ready to conquer the world.
Indeed, it was a night to remember.
And I leave you with a song (my current favorite by her) and a picture.
(taken with my super high quality, top notch iPhone.