“When you’re a little kid, you’re riding the same roads to school every single day, hundreds of times.
When you come back, you snap into that strange nostalgia.” And the church!
Last spring, after Swift accepted Britany’s invitation to be maid of honor via Instagram—kids today!
Swift’s 2015 stare-down of Apple—she declined to put her hit album on Apple’s nascent streaming-music service when the company said it would not pay artists during its initial launch; Apple changed its policy immediately and paid everyone—was a seismic example of a single artist’s toppling corporate might.
At 26, Swift is world famous, wealthy, critically celebrated, a style influencer, and a cultural movement unto herself, recognizable everywhere she goes. And yet today, in this chapel atop a hill in Reading, Pennsylvania, Swift is none of those things.
Swift has even known the groom, Benjamin La Manna, since kindergarten—she admits to having had a little crush on Ben way back then, when he was “that kid who sat next to me in class with the bowl cut and the Lego lunch box.” Swift hasn’t been to Reading in more than a decade; she was fourteen when she moved with her family to Nashville, on her way to becoming a celebrated country singer-songwriter and later blossoming into one of the biggest pop acts in music history.
Returning to the place where you grew up can be a bit of a mind-bender for anyone, and Swift is no different.
Scott, a stockbroker, actually purchased and lived on the property before he’d met Andrea; on their first date, she came to a party he hosted in the farmhouse. “I always thought you might want to stop by,” she says. As we step into the cozy two-floor home, Taylor takes out her phone and starts filming. She actually owns the house with her husband and lives nearby. We go upstairs into a small corner room where a tiny Taylor used to demand three books and five songs every night. We wish you were here so bad.” I can’t lie: All I can think of is Siena and Tarah returning from their ski trip to learn that Taylor Swift was hanging out at their grandparents’ house, and deciding right then they will never go skiing ever again. “This is the first time in ten years that I haven’t known. I decided I was going to live my life a little bit without the pressure on myself to create something.” Do not freak: Swift is not abandoning making music.
“But I never wanted to bother you.” The Schaeffers confess they lived here for a while before they learned about the famous former resident. There’s the living room where the Swifts put their family Christmas tree. She’s thrilled but also beside herself that her two daughters are away skiing for the day. Taylor gathers the family together to make a quick video for the Schaeffers’ granddaughters, Siena and Tarah. On the ride back, Andrea and Taylor sound almost overcome by what has just happened—by the sweet and polite and utterly un–freaked out mood of the whole experience. And then she turns her head quickly away from the window: paparazzi. I just decided that after the past year, with all of the unbelievable things that happened . Those who know her know this is chemically impossible.She is the maid of honor at the wedding of her childhood friend Britany Maack.Swift and Maack have known each other since Swift was ten days old and have stayed close—there are grainy home videos of the two romping around a crib together and, more recently, photos of them sitting side by side at the 2014 Grammys.YES: I SHOULD NOTE that when we arrived at the farm, we were informed by a couple of Swift’s security people that there were at least a trio of uninvited photographers who had followed us to the location to catch some hot, sexy farm-visit action. (“Her not being creative is one of the last things I’d ever worry about,” the musician and producer Jack Antonoff tells me later.) “I’m always going to be writing songs,” Swift says.“The thing is, with me, I could very well come up with three things in the next two weeks and then jump back into the studio, and all of a sudden the next record is started.There are nuns here at Sacred Heart Chapel who taught Swift in kindergarten. It’s the morning of the wedding, and I am riding in an SUV with Swift and her mother, Andrea.