When Felix updated his facebook status to say, “we are never ever ever getting back together… like ever” in August 2012, it felt like a personal attack. We’d been broken up officially for just a little over a month at that point. I’d yet to hear the would-be iconic song, and it was humiliating to think that all our mutual friends would read that status and know he was talking about me. And how much he never wanted to get back together with me. It didn’t even matter that the feeling was mutual, it still stung. It stung even worse when I found out a few days later that those were Taylor Swift song lyrics. My favourite artist! Felix knew that. I’d even gone to see her in concert the summer before in cowboy boots and a cowgirl hat. Using Taylor’s lyrics against me was low.
I bought the new CD We Are Never Getting Back Together was on as soon as it was released in October of that year. Listening to the songs on Red felt like they had been stripped raw from my diary, paired with catchy courses and recorded exclusively for me. I too was feeling 22 despite the minor technicality that I’d turned 23 in June. My friends and I did enjoy dressing up like hipsters and making fun of our exes. We were happy, free, confused and lonely in the best way.
This particular time was also a very difficult period in my life. It was my very first year out of university, I had started a terrifying new post-graduate teaching course at a new college, and I was absolutely heart broken. Despairingly so. Not from my break up with Felix, because by then I knew for certain we were never ever ever getting back together. But because of who came after and before Felix. None other than my own Jake Gyllenhaal, Harry Styles mash-up type muse, Seth Grady.
Taylor Swift knew all too well about my relationship with Seth Grady somehow. She even knew that his favourite music was dubstep at the time. She was able to take my fractured memories and acknowledge them in a way that I never could. She took all those feelings and transformed them into a cathartic masterpiece. She displayed her pain so unabashedly. She felt every low so deeply and put into words all the pain I was feeling. She told my stories of burning red love then loss better than I ever could. Instead of screaming into my pillow, I could scream along with someone who knew exactly what I was going through. Everything had changed. It was golden.
Autumn into the bitter winter through spring and summer, I listened to that CD over and over and over again. It became my anthem that year. I tweeted lyrics from it constantly, and people would retweet them and comment on how succinctly I was able to convey what they were feeling. I’d always let them know, it wasn’t me. It was Taylor. It was Red.
Taylor Swift and I have been through a lot more than those red pant, striped shirt days since Red. She’s sang about my relationship with Seth Grady again on 1989, Folklore and and even most recently on a hauntingly attack-like bonus track on Evermore. I wouldn’t even be surprised if inspiration from August didn’t come directly from one of my blog posts. After all, I do kind of like to think of myself as the Taylor Swift of wordpress, minus her talent.
Taylor Swift is currently in the process of rerecording her first five albums. Due to a series of unfortunate events, she is not the owner of her first five CDs, with no option to buy them. These are her songs, her lyrics and her words. They’re her experiences that she’s reclaiming for all of us. Rerecording those records is a lengthy project that Taylor is putting her heart and soul into. Today she is releasing Red (Taylor’s Version), and I cannot wait to experience it all over again. As a person who lives almost exclusively within their own nostalgia, this rerecording process is so special for me.
So if anybody needs me, for the next few weeks, I’ll be sitting in my maroon scarf, listening to All Too Well, I Almost Do, The Last Time (my ultimate heartbreak trio) and all the other old and new songs off of Red (Taylor’s Version). I’ll be revisiting a point in my life that was as messy as it was formative. A place and time that never really actually feel that far away, thanks to Taylor’s gift of capturing and remembering moments, even the ones that hurt. We’ve come a long way, and I’m so grateful to have had Red back then, and I’m grateful to get to hear it for the first time now.
I can’t wait to watch it begin again.