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Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor 02.18.2021

On Taylor Swift, my first kiss, and becoming a curmudgeon

Photo: Alice Heyeh

I hadn’t thought about Taylor Swift’s Fearless since the fall of my first year at Penn when I had a crush on a boy who shared the name—but not the spelling—of track four. I’d play it as I was doing my calculus homework in the Van Pelt reading room or as I was folding laundry in my shoebox dorm room. Then he didn’t reciprocate in the way I wanted, and I graduated onto the rest of the Swiftian canon where she sang about things far more relatable to my liminal college experience, like falling in love with new cities and eventually with someone who ends up becoming your best friend. 

Then, she announced she was rerecording her first Grammy–winning album in a bid to regain agency over her catalog after Scooter Braun bought and sold her masters to a private equity firm. The first single—a recorded version of “Love Story” dubbed "Taylor’s version"—leveled me in the way I imagine only looking at your wedding band after a divorce could. I cried, not because the song still twinkles, but because it wasn’t something that felt relatable anymore. 

When “Love Story,” first came out, it was my gold–standard of romance. If my first kiss didn’t feel like the crescendo of twangy strings before the bridge, I didn’t want it. In reality, my first kiss didn’t feel anything like that. None of my relationships have, as a matter of fact, and that’s because, in real life, love creeps up on you. It’s a lot less dramatic than Shakespearian allusions and orchestral melodies.

Listening to “Love Story” in 2021 felt like I was trespassing. And as sad as that might sound, it's a good thing. It means that I’ve stopped comparing my experiences to the specter of Hollywood where everything is loud and spectacular and hyperbolic. It means that I like the mundanity of my life. In the most basic sense, it means I’m growing up. 

This edition of Street is about revisiting our expectations and realizing that, as high as they were, they come up short of the real thing. We have personal essays about accepting our fault in breakups and fumbling through sex, even if romantic comedies tell us otherwise. We have a feature about the realization that medicine takes empathy and cross–cultural understanding, something that’s left out of Grey’s Anatomy’s winding plot lines. Mostly, our writers are reminding you that it’s okay to hate the things you once loved. It’s okay to change.


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