Passions and ObsessionsVideo

Taylor Swift: Healing the inner child in me

From the 13yo Lem to the 24yo—'Happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way’

Taylor Swift
The author celebrating his own era in 'Taylor Swift the Eras tour'

Watching my ultimate pop girl live in Tokyo was more than just about the music and memories, but more about a mirroring as I traverse my own phases: my transition from graduating from film school to landing my first corporate job, seeing the passage of time as the world eases into post pandemic, and navigating myself towards adulthood, while pursuing a creative career as a photographer—everything, everywhere, all at once, as cinephiles call it.

Taylor Swift

The author and best friend from high school, Raen

Taylor Swift

My high school best friend, Raen, and I were originally gunning for Singapore, Taylor Swift’s only leg in Southeast Asia. However, the Luck for Singapore tickets was not on our side last July 8.  I have always believed that the universe has its way of redirecting us to the most beautiful and unexpected circumstances. Just when all hope felt lost, it took us only a week to have Anya, my college film mentor and professor, call me to say she had extra lottery tickets for the Tokyo leg. And what do we do when the opportunity presents itself? We grab it! Ecstatic over the fact that we have secured our concert tickets, and months after, we got our visas approved, we saw our wildest dreams slowly taking shape.

Taylor Swift

It took courage—this was my first time to travel abroad, 2,900 km away from home to be exact. I was traveling with three significant people: my high school best friend, Raen; the nine-year-old Lem who watched Taylor’s love story music video on cable TV, and the 19-year-old neophyte photographer Lem.

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

I was over the moon seeing “Taytay” perform, but to immerse myself in Tokyo’s vibrant streets for the first time was something else. Attending the Eras tour and feeling the atmosphere and the beat of each song transported me to a place of pure joy and freedom. Each track from Taylor’s eras was like a time machine, taking me back to different moments of my life, stirring up memories and emotions long forgotten. Personal favorites among Taylor’s eras were 1989, Folklore, and Midnights (honorable mention Red and Fearless). Dancing on a surge of dopamine, I felt all worries and stress melt away, left only with the pure essence of happiness.

My fully self-funded week-long Tokyo trip healed the inner child in me and gave me a sense of independence. This trip taught me to surrender—that in life most things come easily and lightly, and sometimes, unexpectedly. What’s truly for us will be for us. “Happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way”—little did the 13-year-old Lem think these lyrics from the hit song 22 would resonate still with 24-year-old Lem, embarking on his own eras tour towards adulthood and life.

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