Sometimes it’s best to change-up the plans in order to capture a moment. In this case it was one day. One day tucked away now in my daughter’s heart that will be long remembered. We seldom regret experiencing out of the ordinary events. And when an unexpected opportunity arises that falls directly in line with fulfilling childhood dreams…well, having part in magic-making really becomes a no brainer.
On October 11th I happened to see a tweet from Ellen DeGeneres. It read,
Want a chance to see @TaylorSwift13 in a live concert in my Burbank studio? Email TaylorOnEllen@gmail.com & you could be here! #TaylorOnEllen
For several years now, Taylor Swift has been Julia’s favorite music artist. Without thinking twice I emailed to inquire about the event. No information was given on date or time. I figured my email would be lost in the gazillions the Ellen show would receive. To my surprise, the following week on my way to the Evergreen Women’s Retreat, I received back an email congratulating me on winning two free tickets to see Taylor.
Two problems: the minimum age to attend was 14 and my literary agent, Karen Ball, had planned months earlier to come in the day before a writer’s retreat in San Diego she was invited to speak at so we could meet together. The concert fell on the same day as her arrival. I called Leila. She was and will always be the “fun aunty” and an adventure to see Taylor would be right up her alley. She was willing to try to switch her schedule and accompany Julia. I waited to tell Julia until after I returned from the retreat.
When I told Julia about the tickets and the minimum age and the possibility of Aunty Leila taking her, she started to cry. She wanted so badly to go. She wanted so badly for me to be the one to go with her.
I called the confirmation number on the bottom of the email to find out more information. The lady helping me on the other end gave the green light for Julia to attend. I went back and forth and finally left a voicemail on Karen’s phone explaining the situation.
Karen returned my call the next morning. Her words were like a balm to my anxious soul. She was excited for Julia and excited about this unexpected turn of events. Her philosophy of family first came to life as she wisely explained,
Being a mom is more important than being a writer. This is an incredible opportunity. Absolutely go! We will have other chances to meet and I am planning on and look forward to many, many years of working with you.
God blessed me indeed with an incredible agent. My gratitude continues to grow as I look forward to decades of working with this amazing woman.
The day of the concert I picked Julia up early from school. We drove to the Los Angeles zoo parking lot as instructed. Four hours standing in line, holding in our hands the confirmation email, Julia’s passport and my driver’s license. We were grateful for the overcast sky as temperatures were suppose to hit the mid 80’s. After receiving our red wrist band we went through a security screening. Two thousand excited fans stood with us as we watched 75 standby ticket holders receive the news they would be exchanging their tickets for wristbands. We felt sad for the rest of the standby fans who had to return home. The sun broke through right before we boarded the air-conditioned bus and the sky was brilliant blue.
The buses drove us three miles to the Warner Brothers lot. We walked single file past alleys and back doors of studios. Finally we arrived at an outdoor stage.
We were about six people back from the front of the stage, standing off to the left. Rows of bleachers marked the edges of the concert area. In the bleachers sat the yellow wrist band group–ticket holders who were much farther back in line at the zoo. Julia stood on her collapsible step stool and stood almost eyeball to me with a great view of the stage.
When Taylor finally came on stage and started singing, we screamed and waved our arms and sang out all the words to her latest song. Julia watched with awe as her favorite singer stood a stones throw away. Taylor played three different guitars for each of the three different songs from her new album. She ended by singing “You Belong With Me.” It was Julia’s first Taylor Swift song she learned by heart.
During the second song I noticed Julia wiping her face. At first I thought it was sweat from her brow from standing in the sun. Then I realized she was wiping away tears. Happy, overwhelmed, grateful tears. She looked at me with face glistening,
Mom, I can’t believe this is really happening. I can’t believe we are really here. I just feel so incredibly blessed.
I stood slightly behind her as tears formed behind my sunglasses. I didn’t know the words to the new song, but even if I did I wouldn’t have been able to choke out the words.
Yes, we were here. It was really happening. And several times during the second song, it looked like Taylor was looking and singing right to Julia.
After the concert, we returned to the zoo parking lot with only our red wristbands and the incredible shared memory of our time. Our faces were tired from grinning, our voices were hoarse from screaming, our hearts were full of gratitude and disbelief.
We drove past downtown L.A. as the sun set on our unforgettable, magical day.
**The concert will be aired on the Ellen show tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 27th at 4 p.m. Pacific time on NBC. Maybe you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of us in the crowd!