Anxiety sucks. There’s no other way to put it. It’s complicated, unpredictable, annoying, debilitating, and almost always impossible for people to understand.
It’s also something I have struggled with since I was in second or third grade. As an adult I have been working on conquering my fears and am down to only a few thanks mostly to immersion therapy, a will to fight for my best life, and a lot of time to think and meditate on what I want and how to get it.
Also, I think I reached a breaking point this year. Mom’s life changed when she was 28. Dad’s boss recently said 28 was her best year. And so, I think I’m ready for some big, awesome changes.
This particular change began when my friend Jay with whom I went to see Imagine Dragons mentioned he was seeing Taylor Swift in Toronto (as an interesting twist of fate, he ended up not going, but rest assured he travels plenty and has already seen Rep Tour at least twice).
As I often do when people talk about travels, I thought wistfully about what it would be like to go. To see Taylor. Check out another city. Escape if only for a brief period of time. I thought it would pass. I would move on to the next thing and plan a weekend trip to Starbucks instead of an international destination. But it didn’t.
I mentioned it to Mom under the same guise of but I can’t do it, and then I kept talking about it until it became a possibility. I looked up hotels, restaurants, bars, ice cream shops, and planned a trip in my head. A trip I was still far from confident I could take. A trip Dad didn’t know about.
This wasn’t to keep him out of the loop but to maintain expectations until I was reasonably sure I wanted to go. Last Monday, less than a week before the trip, we mentioned it to him. Like the awesome dad he is, he said he was up for anything.
From there shit got real very quickly. We decided to stay at the Ritz Carlton for a variety of reasons including dining options, walkability to the concert venue, and cleanliness. Most of my anxiety stems from germaphobia and when I spoke with the housekeeping manager, Mark, at the Ritz, I was both shocked and reassured that everything I mentioned was already part of their cleaning protocol. They use clean comforters and wipe remotes, light switches, and doorknobs. He even made sure we would receive new card keys. This assuaged most of my fears and became very important later on. Shout out to Mark for his kindness and thoroughness.
I made dinner and breakfast reservations, had a few spots for coffee, cocktails, and ice cream on my radar, and packed for the trip literally the day before. I think this trip was successful for a few reasons. One: after twenty years of avoiding travel like the plague I was genuinely ready for it, though I cannot explain why. Two: I really wanted to go to see Taylor Swift. I may always need a really strong reason to travel, and that’s okay as long as I keep doing it now and then. Three: I didn’t have too much time to worry about it. Four: The Ritz took insanely good care of us. While I understand it’s an expensive hotel, they still went above and beyond and earned their five diamond status.
The morning of the trip, I got a good workout in. It may have been easier had I not done this, but it was important to me and kept me busy the morning of. I didn’t have a single moment to think and chicken out, which was a good thing because my queasy stomach made me wonder if I was doing the right thing. From my workout, I got ready, and suddenly we were in the car and on the road. It turns out crossing an international border is not easy. We took the Blue Water Bridge and it took 30-40 minutes to get across.
I made the decision to wait to buy tickets until we were in Canada. I had my eye on some front row seats and was waiting for the price to drop, which it did. I ended up paying way less resale than I did for my face value Rep Tour Detroit tickets, and even less than I paid for my 1989 tickets. After figuring out how to get the data working on my phone and a minor panic attack that I would end up with no tickets, front row seats were in my hand … er on my phone.
It was smooth sailing mostly through farm country until we reached Toronto. I knew something was wrong when the remaining miles in our trip began decreasing and the time remaining began increasing. It took what felt like an eternity to go from just outside downtown Toronto to our hotel. In reality it took nearly two hours, one and a half of which was spent driving the final three miles to our hotel.
As that time ticked away, I began to worry we wouldn’t have time to eat dinner, and all of us were verging on hangry. That’s something that never happens to me but with the stress of doing something so far out of my comfort zone I think my metabolism was racing. After awhile I began to worry if we’d even make it to the concert. Some of that was my anxiety finding a way into my world and some of was that after sitting in traffic at a near stand still anything is possible.
Dad literally jumped the curb when we got to the Ritz. We grabbed our bags and checked in. In a flash we were in our stunning and wonderfully chilly (how did they know I am always hot???) suite. We changed, I plugged my phone in, and we ran back downstairs to the restaurant, an hour later than planned. This is when it was even more important that I didn’t have to worry about the cleanliness of the room. Though I brought wipes with me, I didn’t have the time to use them before the show nor the desire to after. My wipes stayed in their canister … and that’s something I never expected to be comfortable with, but I was 100%.
Luckily the team at Toca, inside the Ritz, was incredibly accommodating. They had us on our way in under and hour, and I am so glad we had the chance to eat there. The food was outstanding, one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. If Toca is indicative of the food scene in Toronto, I wish I would have had more of a chance to check it out.
Dad loved his ravioli and filet, and Mom and I devoured the dry aged ribeye, kale salad, olive oil mashed potatoes, and roasted potatoes. The ribeye was wonderfully tender, eating as though it was a filet. I didn’t even know it was possible for a ribeye to be that tender. The dressing on the kale salad was perfectly rich, as kale can stand up to a heavy dressing.
We headed back to the room for my phone and then walked over to the Rogers Centre, never so thrilled we’d chosen to stay within walking distance. I had called the Centre prior to our arrival to ask to use the elevator instead of the stairs, as Mom (and I to be honest) struggle with all those steep stairs. The people who escorted us to the floor level could not have been nicer. I wish we could all be friends. They guided us through the crowd, down to the floor where we eventually found our seats literally less than a minute before Taylor took the stage. Whew!
I am not going to do a full review; I’ll save that for the Detroit show. I do want to touch on the highlights of the show as well as what it meant to me. From beginning to end, Taylor worked her ass off and put on the best show possible. I found it better than 1989 because Taylor seemed so happy and at ease performing. She beamed the entire time and that energy totally spread to the crowd. I did kind of hope the roof would be open, but on the hot night, I understand it was a wise decision to keep it closed. The show moved at a rapid, energetic pace with glittering costumes, sexy dance moves, a killer setlist, snakes a plenty, legitimate fireworks, and a surprise guest.
I was definitely hoping someone would pop up and when it was Bryan Adams to sing Summer of 69, I was thrilled. I love that song and so does Mom so we could not have asked for more.
As I did not see 1989 with Mom and she won’t be going to Rep Tour Detroit with me, I loved that we could see this show together. You all know she is my person and I love doing things with her. Seeing Taylor with her in another city, pushing myself so far, showing her how much I have grown was really special. She has been through the worst with me and to celebrate in this way is beyond words.
I still can’t believe I saw @taylorswift in Toronto last weekend! It was EVERYTHING especially when @bryanadams came out as the surprise guest. I wish I was still there loving every second. Instead I’m reliving it with my photos and videos. You can see the whole song on my IGTV #music #live #concert #concertjunkie #livemusic #dance #sing #taylornation #taylorswiftreputation #taylorswift #swiftie #taylorswiftfan #reputation #reputationtour #reputationstadiumtour #toronto #reptourtoronto #bryanadams #summerof69 #summerofyes #bestnightever #takemeback #isthisreallife #grateful #yearofyes #positivevibes #positvevibesonly
I actually got emotional when they performed Summer of 69 with all the talk about best days and now or never and things not lasting forever. It was so perfect for the moment. And it was one of those moments that as it was occurring I understood how special, precious, fleeting it was. It still flew by and I would do anything to have it back.
Reputation is a really important album for me with messages that I relate to on a deep level. The entire process of buying tickets, having seen the show in Toronto, and now even planning a special outfit for the Detroit show has pushed me in ways I didn’t think was possible at all let alone just because of some music.
At the end of the day, though, music is one of the most powerful things, and Taylor Swift somehow knows how to get into people’s heads in just the right way.
That show could have gone on forever with that screaming crowd all lit up with wristbands and I would have been thrilled about it. With the infectious smile on Taylor’s face. With a once in a lifetime opportunity that did change my life. Even though it ended, even though I came home, I am different. I am changed. And I think I just might be doing better than I ever was.
But the end of Rep Tour Toronto didn’t mean the end of the fun. I’ll see you Sunday for part two of the trip!