I forget what it was that brought me to Taylor Swift’s song Red sometime this past October, though I have vague memories of a Target commercial. Once it found its way onto my iPod I had a hard time keeping it off my daily rotation of musical selection. At first I just assumed it was catchy, but then I listened more carefully…
Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead end street
faster than the wind, passionate as sin, ending so suddenly…
But loving him was red…burning red
Why couldn’t I stop listening to this? Why was I clinging to these phrases like a preteen hangs on HarryWhatsHisBoyBandFace’s every word? Duh, Lauren! Because you know exactly what she’s talking about and you are fascinated by how she was able to express your feelings better than you ever could yourself.
Somehow, someway, little Miss Swift had cracked the code to my diary and studied the last 15 years of my life, zoning in on the relationships that had turned my existence upside down, leaving me dazed, confused and wondering what the hell had just happened… (i.e. almost all of my previous love life run-ins.) She took that info, stirred it in her magical word pot and released an album that made me sit back, take a deep breath and utter the words, Holy shit.
When I expressed my interest in this song to my friend Jonathan, he immediately asked me, Have you read her liner notes? When I said no, he cyber-gasped at the ridiculousness of my ways and immediately forwarded me the following (Taylor’s prologue to the album Red):
There’s an old poem by neruda that I’ve always been captivated by, and one of the lines in it has stuck with me ever since the first time I read it. It says “love is so short, forgetting is so long.” It’s a line I’ve related to in my saddest moments, when I needed to know someone else had felt that exact same way. And when we’re trying to move on, the moments we always go back to aren’t the mundane ones. They are the moments you saw sparks that weren’t really there, felt stars aligning without having any proof, saw your future before it happened, and then saw it slip away without any warning. These are moments of newfound hope, extreme joy, intense passion, wishful thinking, and in some cases, the unthinkable letdown. And in my mind, every one of these memories looks the same to me. I see all of these moments in bright, burning, red.
My experiences in love have taught me difficult lessons, especially my experiences with crazy love. The red relationships. The ones that went from zero to a hundred miles per hour and then hit a wall and exploded. And it was awful. And ridiculous. And desperate. And thrilling. And when the dust settled, it was something I’d never take back. because there is something to be said for being young and needing someone so badly, you jump in head first without looking. And there’s something to be learned from waiting all day for a train that’s never coming. And there’s something to be proud of about moving on and realizing that real love shines golden like starlight, and doesn’t fade or spontaneously combust. Maybe I’ll write a whole album about that kind of love if I ever find it. but this album is about the other kinds of love that I’ve recently fallen in and out of. Love that was treacherous, sad, beautiful, and tragic. but most of all, this record is about love that was red.
My first reaction was to Google Taylor’s age. My second was to quickly text Jonathan: HOW IS SHE ONLY 22?? (at the time, she’s 23 now – still a child for all intents and purposes.) And at the time of this discovery, I was still 30; a 30-year-old woman who was just now coming to understand the kind of love I had experienced up until that point. The red kind she described, but could never categorize so perfectly myself. Suddenly, having this category to place my former heart trials into gave me the power to understand just how different I felt about my current relationship. And that brought me back to the final lines of the prologue above..
And there’s something to be proud of about moving on and realizing that real love shines golden like starlight, and doesn’t fade or spontaneously combust.
I don’t see red. I see gold like starlight.
And it’s the most humbling feeling I’ve ever felt, like a graduation of sorts. Like, Lauren you’ve seen so much red that it’s time I let you see gold now, like the color of a first place medal… or else you’re going to burn out your retinas.
So there are two things I would like to say to this little prodigy, Ms. Swift, in thanks for helping me verbalize these differences in my life…
1) You are my Neruda.
2) I do hope you’ll be able to write an album about gold love one day, because if you thought red love was mind-blowing, wait until you meet gold love. It will leave you breathless, but not alone. It will give you confidence, but not as consequence of a break-up. It will give you everything you thought you wanted from those relationships, but with the sudden realization that all those things were never meant for any relationships but this one. And it won’t burn out. Consequently, you should be ready for it to possibly continue for the rest of your life 😉