I opened the door of my hotel room and dropped my bags by the door, exhausted from a string of back-to-back meetings and interviews that had me running around Pittsburgh like an Amazing Race contestant. But my exhaustion was forgotten as soon as my nose detected the sweet, buttery cinnamon smell that meant gorging on Cinnabon was totally imminent and inevitable.

“I’ve got the TV on the Macy’s 4th of July Special. I think you’ll be on soon!” called my mom from the sofa. Spending the Fourth of July with your mom and cat in a hotel room might not be glamorous, but spending time with family just felt right when I was back in Pennsylvania.

I kicked off my red ballet flats, and headed to the living room, where I dropped onto the couch beside Mom. I leaned over and wrapped my arms around her. “Cinnabon for dinner? ... Best. Mom. Ever.”

Mom chuckled. “After 23 years, I know the way to your heart.”

“… the incredible Taylor Swift!” announced Nick Cannon on the TV, and the screen cut to my show at Cowboys Stadium a month and a half ago and the opening of “Never Ever,” the tour finale. I still love that circus theme — I wondered if Britney has seen it, or if she got the reference. I’m like a ringleader, I call the shots

Onscreen, the camera zoomed in on me as I sang the opening lines. Meredith put her front paws up on the TV, confused, yet again, by TV Taylor.

“Down in front!” yelled Mom, and we both laughed. “Whenever I see you do this number on tour I remember when you first wrote this song. I hadn’t seen you that excited about something you’d written in a while. You were playing it for everyone!”

“And to think writing it was almost an accident.” I smiled. “One of life’s little interruptions.”


“We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical,” I sang.

“That — that’s the heart of the song,” interrupted Max Martin, song-crafting genius, leaning forward on the black leather couch in the artists' lounge beside the recording studio. “I think we should set it off with some really big, fun ‘oh yeahs.’”

Shellback, musical genius #2, nodded, his long hair swinging in front of his face. How the man made do without hair elastics, I would never know. “It’ll help build toward the big chorus.”

“Yes! I love it,” I said. “Are you sure you guys aren’t 22?” It was one of those sessions where everyone was so in synch, the song just taking shape in front of us; it felt like watching a skyscraper go up in fast-forward. We weren't even close to proper recording yet, but my heart was beating a little faster, my brain buzzing and alert. If we kept this up, we’d have it roughed out today …

There was knock at the door, and someone poked his head in. Was that ... Adam Levine?

“Hey, sorry to interrupt ...” he said.

“Adam, we’re in the middle of a writing session. What is it?” said Max, a little testily.

“I know, sorry, the label just needs the bounce of ‘One More Night,’ like, yesterday all of a sudden, so I thought I’d swing by and speed things up a bit.”

Max stood up. “Let me go get you the song, but then we have to get back to it.”

“I actually burned a copy yesterday,” added Shellback. “Let me show you where it is.”

Both men left the lounge, leaving me with Adam, who walked over and perched on the armrest of my couch. “How are you doing these days? You know, I shouldn’t say this, but Jake’s been talking about you a lot. He’s clearly not over you. And I heard you guys might be getting back together?”

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