I've been a fan of Taylor Swift since I first heard her album Fearless when I was fifteen years old. I was then lucky enough to go to her Speak Now tour when I was seventeen and I have loved her and her music through all her eras: Fearless, Speak Now, Red, and 1989. I've seen her perform live four times and I feel like we've grown up together. Her music has seen me through so many different parts of my life and has definitely helped me get over a few boys.
Although I've been a fan of hers for years, I wouldn't class myself a fan of the caliber who get invited to secret events, or picked to meet her after one of her shows. Taylor started doing Secret Sessions with her last album which is where she invites a group of her "top" fans, who she's been watching on social media, to her house where they get to meet her and listen to the album before it gets released; an album listening party. I saw pictures from the 1989 one and thought: WOW that looks incredible. I never imagined that would be me one day. Secret Sessions are for the fans who really go the extra mile when it comes to Taylor and who post about her A LOT.
Jump forward to October 2017, a month before Reputation is to be released and my truly brilliant friend Jess texts me saying that Taylor Nation (Taylor's team who organize fan events) are going to call me. I have no idea what's going on but I'm excited. Jess has been invited to an event on Friday the 13th of October and she's picked me as her plus one. We speculate on what the event could be, we obviously both think of Secret Sessions but honestly the thought of meeting Taylor and hearing her album early is just too much. I can't process it. Could I really be meeting Taylor next week? I feel incredibly lucky. Jess didn't have to pick me, she could have picked someone else, maybe a more "deserving" fan but she picked me and I will always be grateful to her for that.
So then Friday the 13th arrives. I am buzzing to say the least. Me and Jess meet early in Kings Cross station along with Jess' friend who was also invited to the event and we have Nandos. We then get the Tube to Finchley Central and arrive at the meeting location way early, but there are already other people waiting outside when we get there. Taylor's team sign us and everyone else in, and then they split us into groups of twenty five and take each group by coach to the actual location. By this point its pretty obvious we're going to Taylor's house. Taylor's ACTUAL house, and I remember feeling really nervous, excited and dehydrated. It was a muggy day and I think the adrenaline made us all feel like we needed a ton of water. We had a singalong on the bus which was fun and then we arrived at her house, which safe to say is pretty impressive! The team asked us to be really quiet (no screaming) as they took us in round the back of the house and then Scott Swift (Taylor's dad) greeted us and gave us Taylor guitar picks. He was lovely.
We are then taken into the kitchen where there are drinks and a spread of food including Reputation themed cookies and M&Ms. We hang out in there for a while and chat to other fans whilst Scott mingles and gives out more guitar picks. It was surreal. I remember Jess saying: "This is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me." It was. It was a really strange feeling being in Taylor Swift's kitchen. I can't describe it. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced.
Taylor's team then moved us all into the living room. They managed to get everyone in—there were a hundred of us—and we all sat on the floor. It was cosy. And then...Taylor walks in. She says "Hi guys" and we all scream. It was a moment. She welcomes us to the Reputation Secret Sessions and explains how the evening is going to work: she's going to play us the whole album and tell us the inspiration and story behind each song. We can't tell anyone anything about the album, this is for us and us only. As the first song on the album started to play I started to tear up. Happy tears, of course. It was all so overwhelming. Everything just hit me. I'm in Taylor's house listening to unreleased music with one of my best friends in a room full of other fans. It took me back to being fifteen and hearing Love Story for the first time, and buying Fearless on a whim not knowing how much I was going to love every song on that album, and all her albums since. She's unknowingly been there for me with every break up and heartache I've experienced. Her lyrics have encapsulated perfectly confusing feelings I couldn't make sense of. She's puts words to some of the saddest and most beautiful moments of my life. Her songs have been my soundtrack for nearly nine years.
I obviously won't say anything about the album itself, what happens in Secret Sessions stays in Secret Sessions and I wouldn't want to break Taylor's trust. But I will say that it is outstanding. It's really hard to compare it to her other albums because it's so different. Every era has been different and brilliant in their own unique way. But I do feel like Reputation is going to be listened to and loved by many. It's an empowering album and I loved hearing all the influences that went into it. I also loved seeing Taylor so happy. She's just beaming with happiness, and she deserves it.
Then came the time to actually meet her. We went in our pairs and I was nervous beforehand but she immediately took all the nerves away by being so lovely and friendly. She greeted us like we were friends and said how beautiful we looked and hugged us. She gives great hugs. She was a warm, funny, kind person. We chatted about the album... and about her hair and then we got individual photos and a group one with her. She hugged us goodbye and said that she loved us and it was just an unforgettable, exhilarating moment. I could have collapsed with happiness. As we left, Andrea Swift (Taylor's mum) hugged us goodbye and we all got a goody bag of merchandise as we were escorted out of the house.
Once we got back to meeting location and were reunited with out phones (we couldn't take any belongings with us) I rang my best friend and practically screamed down the phone at her and told her everything. I don't think I breathed once. I just needed to share my experience with someone. Needless to say my friend was very happy for me, she knows how much I love Taylor. It was the most wonderfully perfect day and a week later it still hasn't sunk in. It feels like it was a dream. Did it really happen? It was so surreal. I loved every bit of it: getting to hear Reputation, meeting other fans, and making friends in the fandom (we now all follow each other on Twitter) to actually meet Taylor, and her parents, and seeing Taylor so happy and content.
It was an insane, euphoric, incredible day that I will never forget and I feel so blessed to have been a part of it.