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.
“When you’re a little kid, you’re riding the same roads to school every single day, hundreds of times.
It is the kind of quaint, Norman Rockwell–ian detail that sounds a bit too precious, too good to be true. Soon we arrive at a clearing with a barn and a small farmhouse. Taylor and Andrea have not made any calls or arrangements about visiting.
They now look tall enough for Christmas at Rockefeller Center.“It’s beautiful.”This is where, Andrea tells me, Taylor Swift was brought home from the hospital in, well, 1989—I guess everyone knows the year of Taylor’s birth by now.“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.“You want to see your room? We go upstairs into a small corner room where a tiny Taylor used to demand three books and five songs every night. I ask her: When was the last time you were in a place where nobody in the press had any idea you were there—no reporters, no photographers? “If I go somewhere and stay in a house, nobody knows.”Swift says she is ready to lie a little low.Taylor gathers the family together to make a quick video for the Schaeffers’ granddaughters, Siena and Tarah.“Hi, Siena and Tarah,” Taylor says cheerily. 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. After the wedding, she will go to New York, where she will be spotted dining with her friend Lena Dunham, and then be seen a week later in Los Angeles with her brother, Austin, and her friend Lorde at the “I have no idea,” she says, with a sigh that’s more blissful than anxious.Many of the wedding guests have known her for just as long. Andrea is powering down the road, and Swift, dressed in a caramel-colored Reformation jacket and a pair of black jeans, is sitting passenger side.
To them, Swift is not the superstar who, a handful of days ago, stood on a stage in Los Angeles and accepted a Grammy Award for Album of the Year, the first woman to win that prize twice. This area around Reading and its adjacent town, Wyomissing, is rich with pastoral roads marked by open fields and stone homes, and the kind of rolling countryside that makes you want to saddle up and ride a horse—which Swift did as a child.“That was kind of my mom’s thing,” Taylor says.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.Last spring, after Swift accepted Britany’s invitation to be maid of honor via Instagram—kids today!—she took Maack to Reem Acra, where Britany got fitted for her custom hand-embroidered silk-taffeta wedding gown and Taylor for the blush-pink, cap-sleeved chiffon maid-of-honor dress that she has on today (the fitting was also Instagrammed, naturally).She is the maid of honor at the wedding of her childhood friend Britany Maack.