If These Walls Could Talk

photo by Matt Cornelius
photo by Matt Cornelius

My Favorite Era

In the fall, my daughter and I joined a Cinemark theater full of other girls ranging in age from five to forty-five for Taylor Swift’s Eras concert film.

Let me just say, “WOW!” There was so much glitter, sequins, and red lipstick, and even though we were watching on a screen, those little girls (and who am I kidding, us moms, too) were dancing and singing to over 40 of Taylor Swift’s best songs across each of her 10 “eras,” or albums, as if we were there in person on the front row.

If I’m being honest, I am not the biggest or best Taylor Swift fan, or “Swiftie” as her most faithful fans are called. She was becoming popular when I was in high school, so I am well-familiar with her music, but it wasn’t until some of my best gal pals, total Swifties, enlightened me as to her biography and the stories behind her songs that I appreciated her talent and artistry. Plus, she appears to be a really kind, normal person, relatively speaking. (Her nail polish was chipped during the concert film, and I loved that.)

If I’m not mistaken, Taylor Swift was 16 when she produced her first album, her first era, if you will. I turned 16 in 2002, the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, and while I was used to experiencing things after my friends as one of the youngest in our class, turning 16 was a big one. I could finally drive myself to school, youth group, dance, and drill team practices, and even pick up younger girls on our way to school in the mornings. My parents gifted me with my dream car, a 1996 Ford Bronco. It was black with a tan bottom, and I remember being so excited when I could upgrade the cassette tape player for a CD deck. NSYNC, John Mayer, and Avril Lavigne were among my favorites, housed in the CD visor sleeve for quick access, but I think we can all agree the best CDs were those burned from Napster. Where else could you find Chris Tomlin followed by Nelly or Dave Matthews Band, decorated with your friend’s handwriting in Sharpie marker? Not too long ago, I found my CD book and showed it to my kids. Talk about confusion! I kept a picture of my high school boyfriend on the dash and Showstopper bags, student council posters, and black and gold pom poms filled up the back. I said, “Good morning, Pleasant Grove, and welcome to your Daily Dose” almost every morning from the PGTV room and high-kicked “The Magnificent Seven” with the drill team each Spring Show. I loved, loved, loved high school. I was a decent student, followed all the rules, and spent so many nights with friends I’m still doing life with twenty years later.

Fearless, Taylor’s second album, was released in November 2008, just four days before I got married at 22. This second “era” was beginning as my college experience in Fayetteville was ending and my young adult life with a job and carrying my own medical insurance was taking off. I was working for a local non-profit organization as a developmental therapist, working with the most precious children from birth to three years old who were born with developmental delays. Our wedding day was incredibly cold, and I fainted during my vows because of my ridiculous decision not to eat for fear of not fitting in my dress combined with my denial of, and therefore untreated, anxiety. The faint didn’t take me to the ground, but it ended with me sitting in a chair and my groom kneeling next to me as we continued the ceremony. We just celebrated our fifteenth anniversary, so I suppose we are doing ok despite my shenanigans.

John was working while going through the gruesome process of becoming a United States Marshal, and non-profit work isn’t exactly known for paying high salaries. We didn’t have much money, but I don’t remember feeling like we ever went without. We were livin’ on love, and we had enough. A year later, we were boxing up our belongings while waiting on the phone call. John had been accepted with the US Marshal Service and, even though we ranked our top choices, we could possibly be moving anywhere in the United States. The phone call came, only to bring the devastating news that a hiring freeze had been issued for federal law enforcement.

So, as Taylor Swift was creating a new era with 2011’s Speak Now, we were also starting a new chapter in Northwest Arkansas with the Rogers Police Department, and I accepted a director position with a non-profit preschool. That time seems a bit of a blur now, but I remember it with a lot of love and growth. We made great friends in a great city we grew to love, but a health scare with a doctor’s note not to return to full duty led us back down Highway 71, and we were happy to come back home.

After we left the Eras concert film, I realized several of the songs I did not know began around Taylor’s 2017 album, Reputation. I suppose by its release date, I was listening to more Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or the soundtrack to Trolls instead of her latest and greatest. I think it’s safe to say, unless new hits are released by Kidz Bop, that trend isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Gabbie was born in 2015 and our calm, sweet, easy, schedule-oriented family of three came to a screeching halt after the surprise of twin boys almost four years later. The brothers brought chaos, yes, but encouraged us as parents to re-evaluate what and where we give our attention.

Not every battle is worth fighting, there is no schedule in sight, and sometimes it’s more important to say yes to another round of Uno as a family, even if it means staying up past bedtime on a school night. God has been so good to us. Our marriage is strong, and our children are healthy, happy, and busy! Our home may have constant clutter and sticky floors, but we are safe. We love each other, and we like each other, too. The Brothers turn five this month and I am most grateful for the mom and person they and their sister have encouraged me to be. I make mistakes and a lot of mornings we are all apologizing on our way to school, but I hope knowing Mom and Dad aren’t perfect helps them not try to be either. All we can do is try our best and be kind to others. Love as Jesus loves us. This era is a busy one, and I know it will get busier, but it’s by far my favorite. I hope it’s Taylor’s favorite, too.

Oh, and Swifties, please don’t come for me if the dates, ages, or information are not exact. Take it up with Google or my girl, Alexa. Love y’all.


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