Remembering Red... All Too Well

The story of Red the first time, and listening to it now.

The year is 2012. I’ve graduated high school and I’m wandering aimlessly through my small hometown, wondering who I am, wondering what comes next. Autumn leaves are falling, and I haven’t seen the face of the man I love in two entire weeks. This is to say nothing of the fact that I shouldn’t love him. He’s older than me, and better than me, and I’m full of grief. Grief for my grandmother, grief for my friends that have left for bigger dreams and cities, and I am here, alone, crying tears I can’t seem to stop.

I am thinking of scarves I left in random places, of dancing in the middle of the night, of secret glances I can’t speak of, and moments I dare not talk about.

Red Lipstick and a Fearless Shirt.. I'm Ready!

A song comes on while I’m in the car with a friend. A song about getting lost

in translation, about a girl who asked for too much. It seemed to me to be the song I couldn’t write, but the song I desperately needed. When I sang it at the top of my lungs, it was a prayer. Turn back time. Bring him back to me. Let me go back and undo the whole thing. Let me meet him when I’m better, when I’m older, when I’m more myself and much less the shell of who I thought I should be to make him want me. We’ll both like that girl better. Can I meet him dressed in Red instead of black? Can I meet him when I’m not a child, when he’s allowed to look at me the way I want?

I sang that song, and I asked for these things. I thought of my boy, who used to be little kid with glasses in the twin sized bed, and was fully fledged a man now. I thought about the theater, and how when I walked in the air was cold. I thought about the last time, and how it was Sad, Beautiful, and Tragic.

The song was All Too Well. The album, and that love, was Red. Years have gone by,

and I am not even in the same place as that man anymore. He comes b ack to me though, in the music I began listening to because he made my heart Red. Recently the theater in my town where we met and put on amazing shows, was repurposed to be pricier and produce popular musicals. Call me an elitist, but there is no art there. They have the nerve to Deck the Halls that We Once Walked Through. He is not here, and I am. My life looks the same, but it is very different. Quite soon, I’ll fly away from this town that kept both of us too long.

And still, I hear those songs, and I fear running away as much as I fear staying, because I wonder if the second I go, he’ll come back. I wish to stand on Holy Ground with him again, but I know now that even if we got that chance I wouldn’t ask him to stay, or to go back again. He and this album are a part of me and my story that I wouldn’t change for anything.

Today is Red day (again). Taylor Swift is rereleasing this work on her own terms, as I am living on mine. It feels good. I texted that man today, and told him what he has always meant to me. That felt good too. I have to be up early tomorrow, but I think I’ll act as though I’m 22 again and stay up late, so that I can relive, after all this time, the absolute magic of Red.