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.
BY NOW YOU KNOW that the past few years have been extraordinary ones in the life of Taylor Swift.
Even if you have only casual knowledge of Swift’s music—there may be six or seven souls left on the planet who can’t sing all the words to “Shake It Off”—you’re aware that Swift has become not only one of the most successful recording artists ever, but also an unrivaled power broker who has prevailed in a volatile media economy and brought today’s music overlords to heel.
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.
During a car ride earlier in the day, she excitedly pointed out landmarks: the creek where she and Britany used to play as kids; a weathered tree house in the front yard of the former Maack family home; the piney woods she and her friends used to think were haunted.
“It’s such a surreal, emotional thing,” Swift says.