My colorful, magical, 40-something birthday with Harry Styles


I will also reveal the number because I just left “Harry’s House,” which is what Madison Square Garden is being called during the British singer’s month-long residency there. And in “Harry’s House” no one feels bad about themselves.

Let me back up for a second.

During the height of the pandemic, those early cold months in New York, trapped at home and filled with fear, I fell in love with Styles. I know people have loved him a lot longer, but hey, don’t hold it against me. I’m on board now.

My then 2-year-old daughter and I would sing and dance to his “Fine Line” album every night, and I had just heard him on “The Howard Stern Show” and liked his whole vibe. I had also just lost my dad and then moved from New York to Charleston, where I am still in the throes of a culture shock so strong some days I feel like I’ve landed on the moon. Life altering events.

In May, when Styles released his third solo album, “Harry’s House,” I turned full on bonkers. It’s been on repeat in the car and at home and my now 4-year-old daughter knows all the words to all the songs. It is our happy place. So I regretted to inform her that I was flying to New York to see “Love on Tour 2022” and that she was too young to go. But that was my birthday gift to myself. Could I just not “mom” for a night? Could I not make waffles, or vacuum, or fold laundry, or scoop the litter box, or pick macaroni out of the rug for just a few hours?

When my friend Tracy texted that she was getting tickets, I Venmo’d her money so fast the price only registered afterward. Oh well, it’s Harry. What’s a few weeks of Ramen Noodles and waiting for my husband to fill the gas tank?

I attended the Aug. 21 show, walking from my friend’s apartment in Chelsea up to MSG, which had been transformed into Styles’ colorful aesthetic, with rainbow, neon stripes lighting up the outside of the venue. I kept seeing feather boa remnants, fuzzy hair and tinsel lining the streets. Thousands of people were wearing boas, along with watermelons, strawberries, kiwis, sequins, cowboy hats and well, anything you wanted really. That’s the magic of Styles. Come as you are — or any technicolor dream of your choosing.

Fans wear themed outfits and take photos outside Madison Square Garden before the Harry Styles "Love On Tour" concert on Aug. 21.

So, instead of forgetting about my age for the night, I owned it. “Harry’s House,” after all, is a place where anyone into kindness is at home.

At 8:59 p.m., the roars and chants of “Harry! Harry Harry!” started. Tracy, who’d been to see Styles before, laughed and told me, “See that little black box? Harry’s in there.” (In order to keep his outfit a surprise, Styles is wheeled under the stage while crouched in a tiny black box. He then pops up through a hole in the center of the stage.) I’ve never heard screams like this in my life for a box on the move.

Styles, clad in a candy-cane striped onesie, with his tattoos on full display, immediately began singing “Daylight,” and I was dancing so hard I swore I was going to flip over the glass partition at my waist into the row below us.

He played with the crowd, reading fans’ signs and doubling over with laughter. He blew kisses and talked about his butt. He played “in the round,” a term for working the whole stage in the middle of the room, so everyone got a fair shot at seeing him clearly.

The stage at Styles' show inside MSG.

“This show is in 360 degrees, we’re in the round,” he told the crowd. “Sometimes we’re gonna be face-to-face, eye-to-eye, window to soul-to-window to soul. That means that some of the time I’ll be facing away from you, and you’ll be face-to-ass. If you find yourself discovering a preference, let me know and I will deliver face and ass evenly.”

The screams were deafening. Styles knows his fan base well.

“I ask only one very simple thing — I need you to have as much fun as you can possibly have,” he said, before counting 22 “golf dads,” a term he used affectionately to describe fathers in Polo shirts who were obviously taking their young daughters to see him.

The stadium sang along to every song. Styles performed for nearly two hours, including “Golden,” “Adore You,” “Daylight,” “Keep Driving,” “Matilda,” “Little Freak,” “Satellite,” “Medicine,” and “As It Was.”

For the last one, MSG felt like the floor was shaking.

Throughout the show, Styles caught little gifts tossed at him, like stuffed animals and balloons, more boas and hats. He’d dance around with the items before throwing them back into the crowd. His playfulness is part of the experience. To see all these people happy in one room because of one person is pure magic. There is no outside world while Styles is on stage.

For me, and for many others, Styles’ appeal is in the acceptance and love he shows everyone. It comes through in his music and it really comes through in person. Known for his own androgynous style, there were all kinds of people dressed all kinds of ways in the audience and it was all ok.

Marianne Garvey dancing to Styles.

At my age, Styles is a breath of fresh air. He has no toxic masculinity and he also happens to be extremely handsome. He invites us to visit his world, where things are candy colored and musical. It is a safe and joyous place.

I was still high on the love the next day at the airport. About one in every 10 people that passed me were dressed in “Love On Tour” merch, including myself. We’d nod at each other in mutual understanding.

On my flight home, a teenage girl was sitting next to me and had Styles as the screensaver on her phone.

“See the show?” I asked her.

“I still can’t believe that he’s real,” she said.

“Same,” I told her. Then I listened to “Harry’s House” the whole way home.





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