HUMAN INTEREST STORIES

LEARNING TO SHAKE IT OFF AND EMBRACE LIFE

by Jeanni Ritchie

I belong to a group called Gen X Swifties, that group of middle-aged women closer to Mom Andrea’s age than daughter Taylor’s but still enchanted with her music nonetheless. 

I’ve loved Taylor since she first sang about teardrops on her guitar but I discovered all too well that I was learning lessons about myself as well. 

This invisible string intertwined our lives in spectacular similarities, including the realization that we’d both become anti-heroes in our lives. 

I was dumbfounded when she announced her latest album title, The Tortured Poet’s Department, as I’d recently created a secret folder in my phone entitled Hemingway and Me in which I’d poured out my deepest, darkest thoughts in lines of poetry. 

I began writing such dark poetry when I found myself going through a divorce and living my own Reputation era. I left my home in exile, many former friends turning viciously mean. Some of it was so high school. I became a mad woman

I listened to Champagne Problems on repeat. What a shame, I thought, that both attempts at being a bride were derailed by the chaos in my head. I found little comfort when my tears ricocheted. 

I had to begin again. At first I drove. A highway don’t care about your problems and driving down the interstate I didn’t care either. I also knew places I could go to escape. 

I had a blank space for adventure, this freedom I’d found on the open road. I acted like a rebellious teenager knowing we were never, ever getting back together. After all, I’d been married since I was 19 and it had been a long time since I did something bad. 

Call it what you want, I needed to blow off steam. I acted like I was fifteen

Anyone who crossed me during that time period found out that I was capable of some vigilante sh— 

Who’s afraid of little ole me? They should’ve been. 

 My getaway car eventually overheated. I was on my own and still running from life. 

You’re on your own, kid, my mind whispered to my heart. But I knew that wasn’t true. I had God and it was time to stop running and deal with my past. I was about to be fresh out of the slammer from a prison of my own mind. 

As I settled down, some continued to point fingers calling me guilty as sin but I just learned how to shake it off

I needed to be fearless as I rebuilt my life to find a place in this world. Writing about fun community events, especially involving kids, makes it obvious that I want to never grow up

I embraced this new me as my newfound writing career found me living out my wildest dreams. I discovered that success was better than revenge. 

I speak now for those who have no voice. I’ve fashioned my past into a sparkling mirrorball to twirl under and teach others to dance. 

I attended two Swiftie camps for articles last month, one at Steps by Stephanie Dance Studio and the other at Midstate Cheer, Gymnastics, and Tumbling. Joining the girls in singing and dancing to their favorite Taylor tunes like I was also seven, I realized something. Life hits different when you learn to accept the past and embrace change. You find that when the opportunity for a new life begins, you are ready for it! 

There’s one more Swiftie camp in town that’s on my radar this summer! The T.R.E.E.House Museum will have their own version of the pop star princess week July 16-19, complete with friendship bracelets. For more information, call 318-619-9394.

 

 

Jeanni Ritchie is a freelance journalist and die-hard Swiftie from Central Louisiana. She can be reached at jeanniritchie54@gmail.com

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