Your Chains, and Where to Find Them

In eighth grade, I saw the fourth and final Twilight movie installment with a bunch of friends the half day before Thanksgiving. Nothing significant, I probably had fun, I don’t really remember. But on that day I heard the song Boston for the first time, because my good friend at the time played it on her mom’s car radio on the way home. It’s extremely sappy and cliche, and not nearly the best song on the face of the planet, but since that day, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. Like, it’s probably been stuck in my head at least once a week since I first heard it five years ago.

It’s been used in a variety of different dramatic television series, like One Tree Hill (which is next on my watch list), Scrubs, and Shark. Most white girls I know love it. And, despite all of the eclectic music phases I have gone through, this song has always been there. I have never deleted it from my iTunes library. And I’ve always wondered why.

I now know why, because I’ve played it during two particularly emotional and transitional periods in my life. Once during a college visit, and once this past weekend on the T.

The day of my college visit to Lesley University (which I ended up hating), it was exploding snow from the sky, and the drive on I-395 was terrible and confusing. I give my mom a lot of credit for driving me there and back during probably the worst snowstorm of our mildest winter. As we approached Cambridge and saw Boston’s bridges and streets along the river covered in a thick white dust of snow, I played it for my mom and Michael. At this point in the year, Michael knew he wanted to go to school in Manhattan, and I thought he was going to. But I knew he was looking in Boston, because he was going to apply to Boston University. And I also knew he was doubting if he could get into the schools he wanted to attend in Manhattan, so I played the song way too loudly and thought of the blustery movie day in 2011, trying to picture myself walking and eating bagels in Cambridge for four years. Neither of them really liked it, but I really don’t think it’s the point of the song.

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I think the song really just speaks to leaving. We were all thinking about leaving in that February, but we had no idea where to or what we would find there. Everyone was so hung up on the “there” aspect, myself included. I didn’t know what I wanted. I hadn’t ever really been anywhere besides where I was raised. In the song, a girl leaves California for Boston, and starts over in a town where no one knows her name. And even though it comes across as super empowering, encouraging people to take the leap, to transition, to go somewhere where they’ll see a sunrise if they’re tired of a sunset, it’s extremely sad. No one knows the girl that went to Boston, and no one cares about her. She came to Boston, she came to start a new life, and no one is like her or understands her. She crossed “the world” because she felt compelled to and now she is upset because it’s not what she expected. And this is pretty much college summed up. Because it’s not what you expect; everyone hypes it up way too much. Even if you absolutely love your college experience (even though I don’t know anyone who wholeheartedly does), it had to have not met at least some of your expectations. And you went for a reason… we all had ours, we carefully researched or didn’t, we signed the forms and payed the fees.

I personally love having emotionally charged public transportation experiences, hence my Metro North article. Naturally, on the T, this was one of the songs I listened to. As the green line train cycled people in and out, and we rattled through Brookline and the expensive golf club, I thought about the February snow day earlier this year. I recalled the look on Michael’s face when we left him in Harvard Square to visit friendProcessed with VSCO with b1 presets, kind of like the picture I took of him last fall in New Haven when he was on the phone and I caught him by surprise. I figured if I had paid more attention to that moment in time, I knew he would have ended up in Boston. I don’t know what it would have been like to picture yourself in a city so much that everything else rendered irrelevant, and I know people are telling him to just be happy and accept Boston because there is so much going on. And I know he’s going to have his therapeutic bike rides over the bridges, because I had mine in Madison and they taught me so much, and they are going to help.

Boston reminds me so much of what he has wanted his college experience to be like, and I don’t want to say this prematurely but I know I’m going to feel that way when I transfer to D.C. I thought about it on the T. If D.C. was just an idea and not something I truly wanted, which is a situation I find myself in often due to my frequent romanticization, I would have thought all of the what-ifs, imagining my previously possible life at Lesley, wishing I had looked at other schools in Boston like my mom insinuated I should do. But I didn’t. Boston is a great place, and so is Burlington, but neither of them are my places, and every day I am figuring it out, something I wish I’d done a year ago. But it’s not my fault. I hadn’t seen the world. In these two months of college I’ve traveled more than I have any calendar year of my life, which is sad. But it’s better late than never. It’s never too late to figure out if you want a sunrise or a sunset.

Six Days of August

I really miss summer now that I’m settled into the first semester and wearing pants most days of the week. Although I enjoy walking everywhere and I just watched the presidential debate with sixty other people (rather than holing up in my bedroom, ashamed of being the only person in my family to care about politics), I’m starting to miss Connecticut out of a place other than loneliness.

The opposite of loneliness used to be Cohen’s bagels, not wearing shoes, sitting in the passenger seat of Michael’s car playing him new music, making breakfast by myself in the morning, sprawling out on Catie’s kitchen floor eating microwaveable pizza. At college, it’s listening to unreleased Lana songs on Peter’s mattress on the floor, dipping Grundle ice cream into little pots of Hershey’s chocolate sauce in between licks, strangers making room for you on the bus even if your headphones are blasting Tame Impala way too loud and you look extremely prone to spilling your coffee everywhere, never being the only person in the library. I’m not sure what being the last to leave is like, but I hope it’s not lonely and that they smell laundry from exhaust fans on their starry walk back home.

Here is a curated snapshot of what I did before I had to live with five other strangers in a small suite I now (enthusiastically) call home.

Friday, August 12th: Woke up early, naturally. Read in bed for hours. Cohen’s with Emily; french toast with very berry cream cheese bagel. Stared at Modern Lovers in RJ Julia’s. Therapy. Hammonasset Beach State Park, West Beach. Swimming next to wet boys. Lime chips and hummus. Sweaty. Bought a candle. Emily’s CD I made for her last summer kept skipping and it sounded cool; wonder if that is how the whole DJing concept came to fruition. Final play practice. Watched Garrett learn the tabs for You and I by Ingrid Michaelson on Alex’s ukulele. I have ten mosquito bites. Took quizzes in my sister’s magazine and ate ice cream for dinner. Finally convinced myself to get the discounted Jack Rogers I’ve been eyeing for a month.

Saturday, August 13: Woke up late. Cohen’s again except I got cinnamon crunch; they were all out of french toast. Saw Michael and Catie after seventeen days apart. FJ Cruiser. Hiimg_3688gh by Peking Duk (Yahtzel Remix). Cleaned my room and watched Casey Neistat’s Draw My Life video. Cried. Church fair with Wyatt, got lemonade. First night of my play. Tried not to fuck up. Denny’s, twice. Ice cream for 2/3 meals. Laughing. Said goodbye to Catie.

Sunday, August 14th: Woke up before my alarm and made my usual breakfast bowl. Acted in play. Dripping sweat moving heavy set into my car. Penne a la vodka with my family. Said goodbye to Riley and cried and watched Jillian cry and laughed. Vacation talks. Leona. Couldn’t walk away. Saying goodbye is getting progressively more difficult. Organized closet. Sleep.

Monday, August 15th: Woke up late for work. Wanted to die. Ate popcorn for breakfast. Talked to Julie about the Lilly Pulitzer sale I missed, we wore our matching shoes that day. Put on eyeliner and mascara and went grocery shopping with Arielle. Visited Mr. Samet. She wasn’t wearing a bra and we can’t tell if he noticed. Stared at his huge living room clock and ate Milanos. Went on a sunset bike ride to Hatfield and created a new town in Animal Crossing. Finished cleaning out my closet.

img_3716Tuesday, August 16th: Woke up early. Took my brother to his first day of freshman orientation and had a Dunkin date. The strap of my new dress broke as I tried to deposit my scholarship checks. Made a sandwich and played Animal Crossing again. Cristy’s with Matt and Brett. Matt’s first time and his taste in music. Got a postcard from Maggie in the mail. Fell asleep reading at golden hour. Michael came over. Planned Block Island trip.

img_3749Wednesday, August 17th: Woke up early for work, but was still late. On self for a few hours, warm sea breeze flew in. Ate a donut. Got Cohen’s and went to the beach with Deja. Crabs kept crawling all over me. There were no jellies this summer? Also no hurricanes? Cleaning gum off my lenses and eating cocoa almonds. Talking about exciting things we are scared of. Getting my Jack Rogers and new computer in the mail. James Farmacy and a great causeway drive with Michael and my sister. Flume. Getting my to-do list done.

Thursday, August 18th: Woke up naturally at 8 AM. Brought rice cakes, coconut peanut butter, Larabars and coffees to Olivia. Stuck in traffic on route one. Wore Riley’s red dress and my new shoes. Played with Brody and the dogs and talked about Harambe. Watched Grease and Legally Blonde with my sister. Cried. Therapy by myself for the first time. More crying. Route one traffic once again; Thursday nights in Madison. Stared at Modern Lovers once again. Make Me Fade by K. Flay. Crawled into bed and wrote and read and wore Christmas pajamas.

I go home this weekend, and I can’t wait to wake up on Sunday morning. I want it to smell like bacon, even though I hate it, and I want to go on a bike ride and get Cooking Company and drive ten miles over the speed limit on Route 81.