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  • Alexandra Hillenbrand

1989 pt. 2

'1989' feels like when you get off of a train and you hear the wind rushing as it blows right past you. All alone, feeling equally as vulnerable as you do untouchable. That maybe if you started tapping your feet on the pavement, a chorus line of commuters would follow your lead with extra enthusiastic jazz hands. In this case, there is no destination. You are just there to be alive. That's what makes it fun.

This is the first memory I had when I listened to the intro of the vault song, "Now We Don't Talk'. It feels like being 13 and sitting in an air-conditioned computer lab with very loud opinions, minimal self-restraint, and an underlying lack of assuredness. A reminder of retinas bleeding from staying up until 3 a.m. (watching Glee of all things) and not being able to wake up to the 10 alarms set for the morning. (But never being late because school was down the street from my house). Of peeling into the back seat of the car, the leather cold beneath denim skinny jeans and knee-high brown boots. I was a child, but I felt so much more grown-up than I do right now.

When I was 13, I was the nightmare dressed like a daydream. If black eyeliner and white sparkly eyeshadow count. Every day, I wore the same navy blue puffer vest paired with suede elbow-padded sweaters. I straightened my hair, all but the entire back section of my head. I had a 10-step makeup routine in the morning and a 5-step skincare routine at night. Let's just say, nowadays I'm lucky if I swipe a cotton pad over my mascara after work. Oh, and the Sperrys. I lived and breathed for my boat shoes, styled with a printed ankle sock, preferably one with flowers.

It's just so interesting to look back at who I was when 1989 was first released and compare it to who I am now. I was such a different version of myself. I wasn't better, by any means, just so different. Well, 10 years have passed, and of course, change was bound to come. Duh!

Even if I wasn't in a great place then, I kind of miss the freedom of being so unrestrained. I was so hardened by life at that point that I might as well have spent my recesses smoking cigarettes in the parking lot. Seriously, 13-year-old me was all kinds of unrelenting and scary. She said her piece, even if most of the time it was a very thinly veiled farce of assertiveness. Even if I was mainly just record-breakingly stubborn and discreetly (was it discreet?) incredibly insecure.

It was more just that somehow, I was so certain that I was certain of who I was. As in, I really believed that I had it all figured out. If someone didn't like me, I could handle it. It wasn't that I was okay with it, it's that I was aware of when it was my fault and when it was not. I was operating on such a survival mindset that I often did the 'rational' thing without looking at the emotional fallout. If I made a mistake, I tried to own it. Sometimes, she lived in denial. Sue her. Not me, I'm not liable.

The re-release of 1989 reminds me of that time - of that girl. Her obstinance was admirable. Who cares if it was all a performance? She could walk into 8th-grade science class test-review jeopardy without having studied a singular term and still designate herself as a team captain. Then, was able to distract from her losses by mudslinging at the other team's smartest players. The ultimate girlboss. She wore a variation of the same outfit every day, but still never wore the exact same one twice. She would tease any boy she had a crush on, which meant they absolutely could not stand her. And she was delusional enough to believe she was slaying at life.

As I'm going to bed tonight, I feel inspired by myself for the first time in a long time. Albeit, by 13-year old-me, but still, it counts. I will emphasize that young me clearly did not have her shit together, and furthermore, needed professional help in order to get there. AND, it took her exactly as long as it took for Taylor Swift to re-record several of her albums. What I'm saying is this -13-year-old me, as untrained as she was, could go to bed every night with the peace of the knowledge that she was trying her best. Now, 22-year-old me is going to start trying that.

I don't know what is it about 1989 that transports me back to that vividly optimistic mindset, but I will be using is as my next clinical trial to cure mental instability. I'll start by rocking back and forth on tiled floor to "You Are in Love".

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