Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan, or “Swiftie,” as her fans have dubbed themselves.

On Wednesday night, she completed the last show of her American tour in 2023. Tuesday night, I made the impulsive and somewhat irrational decision to hop into my little Chevrolet Cruze and drive by myself down to Los Angeles to see if I could get tickets for the show.

My journey to Los Angeles was full of different roadblocks — such as my car breaking down in Las Vegas, and finding out it wouldn’t be fixed until the next day. Undeterred, I whisked away to the California city, now in a rental car, arriving just as the first opening act was taking the stage.

Outside the stadium at that point, throngs of Swifties glammed up in sparkles and sequins were frantically checking and refreshing their phones to see if there were any tickets within a price range they could bring themselves to pay in order to get inside.

Dior Jazmine stands outside SoFi Stadium in Los Angelas, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2023 holding a sign looking for tickets to get inside a Taylor Swift concert. | Sarah Gambles, Deseret News

I joined the crowd and surfed my phone, switching between VividSeats, StubHub and TickPix and back again for the next hour.

As the night grew darker, the number of tickets on each of the websites began dwindling in quantity and rising in price. The second opening act took the stage as the Swifties and I chased the most popular ticket of the summer, now with a little more sweat and a little more panic.

Rumors have swirled that once Swift takes the stage for a show, prices drop, so we continued our search.

The crowd erupted in cheers around 8 p.m., and after confirming on TikTok and Twitter that the countdown clock for Swift to come onstage had started, the fans trying for tickets — that wouldn’t bankrupt them — intensified their search. The air was fraught with stress.

I heard Swift on the mic sing the words to her second song “Cruel Summer,” and did my search again to discover that the cheapest option at that point was a $1,200 ticket to sit behind the stage, an obstructed view in seats that were so high up they likely enjoy less oxygen, I resigned myself to listening to the show from the outside.

I watched the other outside-of-the-stadium fans accept the same fate once security guards started barking at us to step back as they set up barricades, leaving us to retreat behind the metal bars, keeping us out like common folk.

Fans gather outside SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. to listen to Taylor Swift’s concert on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2023. | Sarah Gambles, Deseret News

Swift performed a number of songs from each “era,” or album of her career, in batches throughout the show. As the words to “Fearless” from her second era started to echo outside the stadium, most of us accepted defeat. The last chance to see her last U.S. show in 2023 slipped away.

But as one teenage girl’s face fell in disappointment, her friend, dressed in a gold sparkly dress to match Swift’s, started swaying and singing the words to the song.

And the other fans, including myself, joined in. In the area just north of the stadium, the sound was fairly clear when she was singing, and there was a sense that this could still be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What makes Taylor Swift fans so committed to Taylor Swift?

This isn’t the first time thousands of fans have set up camp outside the stadium to listen to one of Swift’s shows during the Eras Tour. It has almost become a phenomenon of its own, which still demands nearly as much commitment as getting inside.

A group of friends brought a blanket and friendship bracelets to make during the show in the park on the south side of SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. on Aug. 11, 2023. | Sarah Gambles, Deseret News

You still have to pay for parking or an Uber, or convince a parent or friend to battle traffic in order to drop you off. A majority of the fans show up clad in Swift merchandise or campy costumes that reference Swift’s songs, albums or inside jokes Swift has built up by her rapport with fans.

Sisters Jennifer and Cassandra Rosales traveled two hours to the stadium in hopes of securing tickets and told me they have been fans of Swift for 15 years.

When asked what made her put the effort in to come to the show, Jennifer said, “It’s just the fact that she really connects with us. She’s on a different level where she cares about us. She takes her parents around, and they show they’re all really committed to us, and we want to show that too.”

Cassandra came to the show hoping to see Swift perform songs from “Folklore” and “Evermore,” albums released during the COVID-19 pandemic that took on a more indie-folk vibe compared to her past music.

“I just need to see it, and I’ll be fine. It will fix me,” Cassandra said.

The Eras Tour madness isn’t just about the music. It’s an event, an experience. Fans plan their outfits months in advance, spend hours making friendship bracelets to trade with other Swifties at the show, and thousands tune in to shaky live TikTok videos that lucky ticketholders stream during the shows each weekend.

Swift and the type of fans who attend her shows have created a culture of fun and kindness and cheerleading for each other. Multiple people came up to me telling me they liked the jacket I made for the show, and I complimented many others for their beautiful and clever costuming. I heard compliments and camaraderie all around me.

A family, including their dad, stand outside SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. on Aug. 11, 2023 listening to a Taylor Swift concert. His T-shirt is a reference to Swift’s song, “Anti-Hero,” she released in October 2022. | Sarah Gambles, Deseret News

In a society that feels self-consumed and absorbed, the experience at a Taylor Swift show is a reminder that there are so many kind and thoughtful people in the world, and a lot of them happen to be Taylor Swift fans.

“Everyone is so nice here,” Elle Winter told me after I asked if I could take a photo of her and her boyfriend.

I approached Winter and her boyfriend, John Kimball, while they were taking photos to tell them how incredible they looked in their matching purple sparkly outfits, especially with the backdrop of the setting sun.

After I took the photo, Winter said that she is also a singer and came to the show to try to get content for TikTok and asked me to be in a video with her. I agreed, but being a 33-year-old millennial journalist who does not take selfies and prefers to stay behind the scenes, I knew it would likely be an awkward experience.

Winter held a miniature iPhone microphone up to my ear, and Kimball directed me to show a reaction to the song I was listening to. As filming started, self-questioning rattled through me — “What on earth can I say? Why am I so awkward? How do I act normal? Can they tell I don’t know what to do? At what point do they stop filming and realize I was the wrong person to ask and this was all a mistake?”

Right as I was about to interrupt and apologize for my inability to act on camera, the chorus of the song started and I recognized the words and the music and exclaimed, “I know this song!”

A while back, I heard the song on TikTok and it resonated with me. Winter’s “Yeah, No” had played on repeat on my Spotify for months, helping me feel my feelings and get over a breakup at the time.

After explaining this to Winter, I realized I couldn’t even remember the guy who broke my heart and made me connect to the song. And without even trying, I met a musician who created art and put it out into the world — art that helped me get through a difficult experience.

That’s what Winter and Swift do — create these masterpieces of vulnerability and poetry with their music and make it available for us to enjoy and make memories to and connect with for the rest of our lives.

Even though I didn’t get to go inside the show, I still experienced something that was deeply meaningful and almost more memorable than being inside the stadium. As I joined the other fans screaming the words to “All Too Well,” “Shake It Off” and “Karma,” Like Cassandra said, I think it did fix me, just a little bit.