this gal definitely needs to go on a faraway trip this year … and i’d love to take one of these passport sleeves with me. i love the polka dots on the first one, and the personalization possibilities on the second. other quotes and ready-made designs also available!
Once upon a time a 17 year old English girl fell in love with a talented but relatively unknown country singer by the name of Taylor Swift. PLOT TWIST: 11 years later she is one of the most successful artists in history and I just spent my Friday night hanging out with her at her house. Wanna know how this happened? I’m going to tell you my story. Get yourself comfy (maybe some cocoa or a nice sweater) and listen up.
I don’t claim to be the biggest Taylor Swift fan in the world, but like every Swiftie I would always like to think I am. I have loved Taylor for longer than I can remember and one of my biggest dreams in life has always been to meet her.
On 3rd October 2017 I woke up around 5am as I do every morning, and I turned off my alarm and turned my internet on. I had a few notifications, Facebook messenger, twitter, tumblr….but then there was a DM? I never get twitter DM’s, I’m not remotely interesting enough for anyone to want to speak to me, so who was this messaging me?
Half asleep and with my eyes still adjusting to the light I opened the DM screen and saw the words ‘Taylor Nation’. My whole body froze…that’s not what is says is it? I rubbed my eyes and looked again…it was. I clicked on the message and read it quickly. I didn’t really take it in, something about a Confidential Event. I dropped my phone onto my chest and looked at the ceiling trying to take in what I had just read. Was I having another Taylor dream ? Somehow I knew I wasn’t - the last Taylor dream I had we were eating banana splits in an old railway carriage turned into a diner…i don’t even like bananas. Somehow this seemed more plausible.
I closed twitter and decided to ignore it for a second and look at my other notifications. There was a facebook message from my Swiftie friend Bethy telling me to have a good day and reminding me to keep my DMs on….wait, she had one to? I replied back saying 'I have, you too?’ and for a solid hour we were messaging eachother in code without either of us admitting what we had received in text…but we both knew.
I sent my details over to Taylor Nation and tried to get ready for work…putting my jeans on back to front, loading the laundry into the machine without adding the washing liquid, walking around my house doing things which usually came naturally but for some reason took extra effort and concentration…something I was lacking.
It was another 10 hours before my DM was replied to saying they would contact me soon. Soon? How soon is soon? Bethy and I continued talking to eachother imagining what it could be. Would we be in a live stream? A music video? Are we being invited to a show? An interview? In the back of our minds we wanted it to be a secret session but it wouldn’t be would it? People like us with a handful of followers whose idea of a great Friday night is to play Yahtzee while listening to Taylor Swift on repeat wouldn’t get invited, would we?
Luckily soon was only 3 hours and I got a call from a New York number. I was at my parents house so I ran up the stairs to take the call. Some other Swiftie friends in a group chat were messaging me about stuff and I was trying to pick up but notifications were sending my phone into meltdown. Eventually I managed to pick up…then hang up on Taylor Nation. Yes, I hung up on Taylor Swift’s management group!!! (Sorry Ali).
I tried to call back but it went to voice mail, so I sent them a DM and went for a wee. Ali called me again while I was on the toilet so I was nervously trying to finish peeing and then ran out to the top of the stairs to take the call. The signal in my parents house was awful and I kept shouting 'huh’ and 'hello?’ down the phone but Ali was so lovely. She told me I had been picked to be invited to a special event because I was a super fan and I could bring a +1. I knew Bethy was already going and I made a pact with Megan if ever we had an opportunity to meet Taylor we would take eachother. I hastily gave her Megan’s details and then passed Alex’s on to Bethy for her call before screaming at Alex to keep 13th October clear (for the record he is so difficult). On top of this I was also on holiday that day and so going to this event also meant cutting my holiday short…but this was Taylor Swift!
I found out on Sunday 8th October that we had to meet at a hotel and would be shuttled to the location via bus. Unfortunately my bladder condition flared up on 10th October and I nervously contacted Taylor Nation for details of restroom facilities, scared I wouldn’t be able to go. I cried as I waited for an email back but Taylor Nation were so lovely….you could tell they worked for Taylor. I went to the local Dr on holiday and got antibiotics and instructions for bedrest for the 2 days before the event. My bladder was still bad by early morning day of the event but luckily started clearing up as I travelled from Devon to London.
The day of the event we all met up at Waterloo Station in London before travelling to the hotel where we needed to meet Taylor Nation. I was so nervous that everything was going wrong and had been in so much pain and in denial I was going to be well enough to go that I couldn’t believe it was happening.
On the way from the tube to the hotel we saw a funeral directors with 4 gravestones in the window - were they for us when Taylor killed us with her music? A bus went past…the number 13? So typically Taylor!
We arrived at the hotel and checked in. Taylor Nation were in the lobby (we didn’t know it was them). The receptionist asked if we were going to the knitting convention? I was confused…was this a cover story? All I kept thinking was 'I knit sweaters yo’….'no, we are going to meet some friends' we told them.
We went upstairs to our room to get ready and when came down we didn’t know where to go. There seemed to be some type of line forming around the building and the sheer quantity of red lipstick and floaty dresses told me we were in the right place.
We checked in with Taylor Nation and as I gave Elise my ID she said she liked my passport cover. It’s a picture of Taylor with 'grab your passport and my hand’ written on it. She confirmed with me that she was the one I had been emailing and I thanked her for her help. I then signed a NDA and got my really cool wristband which has 'United Kingdom’ in reputation font on it. And then we headed downstairs to wait for the bus.
I was on bus number ¾ with Megan- Alex and Bethy had already gone on bus 2. I sat right behind the driver and he had his Satnav programmed with 3 different routes. He took the first route to somewhere random, loaded the second route and followed it, then loaded the third. It was clear he was trying to throw us off. As we entered part of the neighbourhood I felt very out of place. The cars had personalised plates, the houses were getting bigger, the hustle and bustle of London life seemed to getting further in the distance.
Suddenly the bus stopped in front of a beautiful house…this was it…this was Taylor’s house? We were escorted off the bus and down to the side door which lead to a basement. The carpets were bouncy and the soundproof walls were so soft. We waited patiently for a few minutes and then suddenly the door opened and I caught a glimpse of a canvas of the New York skyline….this IS Taylor’s house.
We were taken up the stairs to a central entrance hall with a staircase leading up to the top of the house and a corridor towards a large group of people with music playing - her Spotify playlist. The party was in the kitchen. Megan and I walked in to the kitchen, everything was so perfect. Ice buckets full of cans of soda and water, the best chicken bites I have ever tasted, cheese, vegetables and dip, reputation m&ms and cookies with REP on. There was so much I couldn’t even see it all.
We spotted our friend Bethy over in the corner by the French doors and headed over to speak to her. As we got there so did Scott Swift….the total legend and biggest fangirl ever. I told him I had briefly seen him in Nashville for 1989 and be told me the Mick Jagger story…the same one Taylor tells in interviews. Word for word and he beamed with pride as he told us stories about Taylor. There I was on a Friday night in Taylor Swift’s house talking to her dad about 2 megastars as if we were all old friends. And he was really interested in us, not just polite conversation but so enthralled that we loved his daughter as much as he did. True to Scott Swift fashion he gave us some guitar picks as me made his way onto the next group.
I asked Alex where the toilet was and he took me out to the corridor…which hid a restroom behind huge grey panels. It was the nicest smelling toilet I have ever been in…and I have been in a lot! As I sat there peeing in Taylor’s toilet and looking at the Jo Malone candle burning by the sink I wondered…how did I get here?
Shortly after I left the toilet we were ushered across the entrance hall to a huge rectangular room. Opposite the door were large windows covered over by drapes and a single armchair - Taylor’s seat. The floor was adorned with cushion after cushion and Megan and I ran to the closest cushion to Taylor. Megan sat right in front of her and I squeezed in behind. This was a SECRET SESSION!!!!
A few minutes later I looked behind as the door opened and in walked a real angel to a round of screams and claps- red lips, natural 'I’ve just washed it’ curly hair, snake boots and a huge smile. She sat down in front of us on the seat and said 'Hi I’m Taylor’. Just like at tour, only this time not to 70,000…to just 100.
And then the mystery was revealed. Taylor Nation hadn’t just randomly picked us off of various social media sites - we had been hand selected by Taylor herself who had stalked us for over a year and sent TN our profiles to invite us. It hit me…Taylor picked me?!?! The woman I have been 'stalking’ for 11 years had been stalking me too? Out of all the fans in Europe I was one she wanted to meet. I don’t think that will ever fully sink in.
Taylor played us her album, telling us little stories about each song - the inspiration, the recording processes, the reactions from friends and family. It was so much to take in but watching Taylor mouth along to the words, act out different expressions and sitting-dance to all of the songs was hilarious - I wasn’t in the presence of a celebrity, I was sitting with my best friend appreciating the biggest achievement she will ever have - true happiness. Taylor Swift is truly happy, about life, about her music, about her fans and it is nothing short of magical.
As each song played I really wondered how Taylor could top it, but she did…over and over again. Time went so quickly and it felt like the world’s biggest and best slumber party, except we didn’t get to sleep over.
At one point it was so hot that Scott Swift had to open all the doors to let the air in. As Taylor played his favourite song from the album she called for him to come and listen and he made a joke that he was actually handing out guitar picks to the neighbours.
After Taylor finished playing the album I looked around. Everyone was so Wonderstruck by what they had heard and I looked at Taylor and she looked so content. I don’t know whether she was worried by what our reactions would be but all we had for this album was love…and I hope Taylor knows that.
After the listening session we were handed copies of the reputation magazines while we were waiting for photos. Megan and I were some of the first to go in. I was so focused on getting to the event that I hadn’t even thought about what to say. Taylor ran over to Megan and hugged her and started talking about her bright pink hair. She loved it and it had been distracting her all evening. Then Taylor hugged me and I hugged her back like I had never hugged anyone before. She was so tall like a giraffe but with the grace of a swan…and I was me. I whispered 'thank you for inviting me’ and she smiled. I didn’t want to let go.
As so many people were waiting they sort of rushed us with a picture. Taylor grabbed hold of us with her arms around our shoulders and smiled so sincerely at the camera. I wanted to talk to Taylor as I didn’t get a chance but we were ushered off. As Megan walked out front if me I went to turn and talk to Taylor when Megan suddenly shouted 'we went to Nashville’. Taylor screamed back excitedly 'I know’ with the biggest smile on her face. So…I didn’t get to talk to Taylor but she knew we went to Nashville. She really did stalk me.
When we left the room we were greeted by Mama Swift. I told her about my mum being terminally ill with Cancer and how she had gotten test results that day but she wanted me to be with Taylor instead. She gave me an extra hug and told me to hug my mum for her. I told my mum later and she started crying. Someone she has never met wished her well…it isn’t just Taylor, it is her whole family.
We were taken back to the basement to collect Merch bags with a T-shirt, hat, sticker, pop socket and exclusive secret sessions keyring. It was so lovely of Taylor to give us something more to remember the day.
I got the bus back to the hotel and sat talking to Ali the whole way about the album and Nashville….I may have also invited her to CMA fest next year.
By the time I got back to the hotel and collected my belongings (which had been taken from us earlier) I was shattered but I couldn’t sleep. I posted on twitter and suddenly my phone couldn’t stop vibrating…thousands of retweets and likes. I sat there trying to figure out what happened but I’m still not even sure I believe it myself.
It took me 2 whole days to cry…not because I didn’t care but because this wasn’t the norm. I had stood outside countless radio stations and events before and not met Taylor…I had cried. I had come away from concerts and not been picked for Loft or Club Red etc and cried…but this was different. Not only had I met Taylor, she had picked me. I couldn’t cry…I just felt a sense of fulfillment, of achievement, of love. By the time I did cry if wasn’t because of what happened; it was because I missed her.
But this is not the end of my story with Taylor…I feel like this is the start of a new chapter. I came away with a whole mind of memories and countless new friends - affectionately known as FANtom Squad.
Friday 13 October was the best night of my life; I will never be able to thank Taylor enough and I’ll probably never have a chance to say what I wanted to say. But after years of hiding it & toning down this side of my life to please people I can honestly I am not ashamed of who I am because who I am is exactly how @taylorswift likes me.
So while I was working away at these for my passport cover, I had an idea! So I went and finished up the rest of the digitizing of the majority of the main characters (I’d have to design Ardyn from scratch, and if I do Aranea, I’m redesigning her head, she’s got the helmet on in her pixel version. xD; ) I can also make a Drautos or Cindy, but haven’t done it yet.
I can whip a few of these up (I’ve probably forgotten pairings, these aren’t exhaustive) if anyone is interested! The outside border color can be changed to just about anything, I’d probably do these on either black or white twill fabric.
If there is interest, I’ll probably set up an option in my Etsy store or maybe try out Tictail. Regular pairings would probably be around $10 or so per patch (my usual rate,) the Chocobro OT4 would probably be more like $15, due to the significant amount of time it would take to make.
So what do you all think?
PS: Thanks to @stefanyd for telling me it was a good idea, I’m always second guessing myself in this sort of thing. xD;