I promise, friends, one of these days I will write about something other than Taylor Swift on this blog, but that day is not today. Because this weekend something pretty incredible happened – I got to go to not Friday, not Saturday, but BOTH NIGHTS of the 1989 World Tour in Nashville. And I just couldn’t have that experience and NOT share it somewhere . . . so let me tell you!
Me, Kathryn & Daniel with the tour trucks on Night 2
First of all, this was a rough week. In fact, September has just been a rough month! Not only have we had three home games in a row, making my weekends long and tiring and my weeks busy with rehearsal, but this week life really got crazy. I had three papers, I wasn’t getting enough sleep, I was sick, and wildfires were popping up everywhere. By Wednesday night, I felt like I was sitting watching everything I’d touched go up in smoke. It’s really, really hard not shatter as life hits you harder. And that’s where God stepped in to show me that there are some things so profoundly true about His grace and my life that circumstances don’t have the power to destroy.
So Vanderbilt had this competition called #VUSwift, right? You make a post on Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr answering the question “How has Vanderbilt made your Wildest Dreams come true?” with lyrics from one of Taylor’s songs. 7 lucky random winners would get to take a friend with them to Night 1 of #1989TourNashville in a private box suite with Chancellor Zeppos. WHAT. Right?! I knew it was a long shot, but of course I entered. So did my roommate Kathryn – and Tuesday, we found out she was a finalist. So out of all the entries, she was one of 20 people who were entered for the final drawing. !!!!!!!! We knew it was still a long shot, but since we’ve had tickets for Night 2 since last October, we thought – best case scenario, we win; worst case scenario, we still see Taylor.
Y’all, I still can’t believe it myself. Halfway through the afternoon on Thursday, Kathryn got the email – the one that said, “Congratulations! You and Allie will be headed to Bridgestone Arena Friday night to see Taylor Swift with Chancellor Zeppos!” For two people who never win anything, we were jumping off the walls with excitement (Okay, so I was jumping, and Kathryn was a little more calm). Of all the things to win, we were going to see our favorite artist, in a private suite, with the University Chancellor, FOR FREE. I am so grateful that out of everyone she could have taken, Kathryn picked me.
Our seats for Night 1 (Thank you Vandy!!!) and our selfie with the Chancellor!
You know what is even crazier than that? The timing. I already knew Taylor was going to make this weekend awesome even if the week had been crummy, but the timing made it clear to me that God was so, so present in the midst of my brokenness and frustration and circumstances. You can laugh all you want to and you can call me obsessed, but the simple fact of the matter is I love music, I love concerts, and I love, love, love Taylor Swift and what she stands for as an artist. Putting all three of those together (plus getting to go TWICE with my sweet roommate, who not only puts up but joins in with my crazy concert dancing) was such a gift, and a reminder that life is a lot bigger than just the hard things.
But wait – it gets better! If you’ve known me very long, then you know I’ve been hoping and dreaming and planning to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina next semester. Although last semester, and even over the summer, I was hesitant to leave the campus I love so much and the people and activities God’s given me here for so long, but after a lot of time in prayer, and realizing when things lined up financially that God was literally making it possible for me to go, I was so, so excited to begin planning for this new adventure. The only step left to make it official was the actual application process and my admittance to the program. An hour after Kathryn and I found out we were going to Taylor Night 1, I got the email that I had been accepted to study abroad in Buenos Aires with CIEE. GOD IS SO GOOD, GUYS.
Let me tell you, even when life starts to look up, it is really hard to look on past the hard things. It wasn’t until Friday night, when Taylor hit the runway singing “New Romantics,” that the sweet reality of all of these things hit me at once.
There are some things that make me, me no matter what else is happening. Not only is my identity secure as a daughter of God, but I have a heart for Belize, I have a passion for the Spanish language, for education, for American history, I read really really fast, I love to sing, I love discovering new music, and pink is my signature color. The beautiful thing about 1989 is Taylor went back to the simplest fact about herself, the year she was born, and built onto that to tell a story about who she was. I think when life gets hard, we have to keep going back to those things about ourselves we know to be true, the things we love doing and the gifts that God’s given us, who and how we are in the world because of those things, and build on to our story from there.
Throughout the show, Taylor gives several speeches. Right before she played Enchanted/Wildest Dreams, she told us what she thinks about happiness, and how on the gray days, on the hard days, this night was going to be one of those memories she pulled out as a reminder of true happiness. There are a lot of moments in life with sharp edges, that can cut and bleed when you pull them back out and look at them. But for every one of those, God gives us a thousand more that show us who and how we are, and what great joy there is to be found in our lives.
The next time I have a gray day, I’m going to remember the 1989 World Tour. I’m going to think about how crazy it is I got to see Vance Joy and Haim open for her twice. I’m going to remember how she brought out Kelsea Ballerini, Steven Tyler, Alison Krauss, Leona Lewis AND Mick Jagger as her special musical guests. I’m going to remember Taylor shouting “Nashville!” during Blank Space. I’m going to remember how everyone’s wristbands lit up red and white during I Knew You Were Trouble. I’m going to remember the LED costumes from How You Get The Girl, and how Taylor yelled “Now let me see you jump, jump, jump!” like she KNEW it was my favorite song to dance to on the album. I’m never going to forget when she sang Fifteen to her best friend Abigail from high school, standing right below her at the B-stage. Or the Love Story remix. I’m going to hold on to the Clean speech, when she told me that the worst thing about heartbreak is that it makes you regret being brave, and that letting people in, trusting people, and being generous with your heart are beautiful things to do (and yes, I cried). I’m never going to forget how after years and years of singing harmony to Taylor’s songs in my room and in my car, I got sing harmony with her in person, one voice out of thousands – but I’m also never going to forget how she told us that if we thought she couldn’t see us in as one of those thousands, we were wrong.
Night 1: How You Get the Girl
Out of the Woods
Night 2: Vance Joy
There are always hard days and gray days. This is life we’re talking about, and sadly, the world is a broken place that can break us if we let it. But God is so gracious and good to give us these nights we can hold onto, and these pieces of ourselves that can’t be broken. And you know what? Argentina is going to be another one of those places that defines me, and I’ll come home with even more memories that teach me who I am and what happiness is. I can’t wait to tell you.