Wisconsin Ave & M Street

My heart is truly pulled in two directions.

img_6525Going to Georgetown again (and just to clarify, I mean the neighborhood, and not the school) made me fall in love with it all over again. Seeing it in the crystal blue mornings of early September, when it was still hot enough for me to wear shorts and a shell shirt, and I ate the ice cubes in my coffee to quell my thirst, I knew it was something special to me. It was hot, and everything was bursting with life and pretty women in dresses with dogs and farmer’s markets. I spent the better part of that Saturday just walking around by myself trying to understand why I felt so comfortable and elated there.

Georgetown in the Late Summer

Foreign Lovers – Ra Ra Riot                   10,000 Emerald Pools – Borns

Can You Tell – Ra Ra Riot                        Dissolve Me – alt-J

Bryn – Vampire Weekend                         Something Good Can Work – Two Door Cinema Club

No No No – Beirut                                       Young Lion – Vampire Weekend

Shake Shake Shake – Bronze Radio Return     Blue Boy – Mac Demarco

The reason why I’m so shook about Georgetown: when I am walking around, in my head I hear these songs. And I consider these artists or songs to be at the core of my being. Every time I hear them, I feel how I feel when I am feeling most myself. I feel an inexplicable warmness in my heart and all of my worries scraped out of my mind. I feel warm sunshine and a cool breeze and a good hair day. I look at the brick and mortar of Georgetown and know that I am in the right place.

Georgetown in Mid-Winter

Love is Blind (Sam Gellaitry Remix) – Lapsley      Sweet n Sour – Waterbed

Dance Yrself Clean – LCD Soundsytem                   Love Lust – King Charles

Gold (Moon Boots Remix) – Bondax                        Gibraltar – Beirut

Good Old Fashioned Nightmare – Matt & Kim     The Glory – Kanye West

A Game – Ski Lodge                                                       Perth – Beirut

img_6524I think of how I felt in sixth grade when I visited Philadelphia. Surrounded by my classmates, I started to cry as we walked into the Independence National Historical Park. All anyone cared about was whether their mom chaperone would stop to get authentic Philly cheese steaks or not, but, clutching my copy of the Declaration of Independence to my heart, I hesitantly grazed the Liberty Bell, a gasp uttering under my breath as I retracted my hand. A guard was smiling at me from the corner. I smiled sheepishly and held back tears of fright.

I think of how I felt when I was fifteen and roamed around Provincetown with my best friend. We thought we were so grown-up, walking around by ourselves. I took a million pictures of the ocean and the old boats and the lobster roll shacks. I flipped through maps of the Cape, outlining the best places to go clamming and the best restaurants for oysters (Wellfleet, obviously). I remember sitting in the library, climbing all over the boat built into the second floor like a child, watching the rain flow down the battered red, white, and blue flags.

I think of how I felt when I was a senior in high school and my humanities teacher took us on an April tour of New Haven and Yale architecture with this man who has written three or four lengthy books on the topic, and even proposed to his wife on top of the Harkness tower (if that’s not me…). Walking past the old churches in the damp, cold heat, we strolled through the Yale old campus and I listened to snippets of Mr. Serenbetz’ conversations with other students. The day ended with the museum and Rothko and a breezy bus ride back to school.

I get these feelings in the gentrified portions of Brooklyn, in the commercialism of Newbury Street, and the streets paving the way to the Met on the Upper East Side. I feel it in the way my heart fills listening to I Just Wanna Be Somebody Else, thinking of grilled cheeses and New Haven. But nothing will every truly match how I feel in Georgetown. Writing this now and listening to Vampire Weekend’s first album in the clattering chaos of my dining hall, I can dream. I do like it here. I love the mountains and the trees and Church Street. I love my friends and wearing snow boots and Ben and Jerry’s. But a huge part of me wishes I was in Georgetown. Realistically, right now I couldn’t get into the undergraduate program at Georgetown University, let alone afford it.

Every time I hear a chord of a Vampire Weekend song or look at the M5 filter on VSCO or sit for hours at a cafe in Burlington looking out at the mountains and Lake Champlain, I’ll get the feeling. And I’ll remember that soon I will feel that all again, by way of a bus, train, plane, or grad school.

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It Was a Bright Cold Day in October, and the Clocks Were Striking Thirteen

This is what a subway system that works – for the most part – looks like:

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So far, I’ve only taken the Green, Orange, and Red lines. I have seen the depths of Oak Grove, the country clubs of Newton, a rainy Davis, a windy Kenmore. The T is much easier to understand than the jumbled alphabet and random numerics of Manhattan’s subway system. I still love the subway there, but I felt much more intelligent not having to ask which trains go into or out of Boston, when in Manhattan the only thing I knew was that the L train goes to Brooklyn and the ocean is about to explode into it so they have to fix it.

I am excited to see the rest of the T and spend more one-hour intervals taking three lines to meet my Wheeli driver somewhere north of the city to get back to Burlington. Some interesting people watching has come out of my time spent in Boston, and most of it has been underground. These are the songs I’ve been heavily rotating while that happens, sweating and killing my phone battery:

Tiny Cities and Jarmin in the Dark, for dusk rides underground on the red line, in the heart of the city, wearing heeled shoes

Dissolve Me and Perth, for chilly late mornings on your way to Cambridge

Giving Up the Gun and Machu Picchu, for descending into the Harvard station

Take a Chance and Ridin’ Round (Osho Redo) for deep evening rides back to Kenmore and half-sleepy Uber rides

Flashing Lights and Ivy League Circus for walking up the stairs into the city for the first time, for the the first time in a while or the weekend

Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games is the special orange line song because it takes forever to arrive at the station and this is a good measure of time in between those arrivals and departures

If I Ever Feel Better and A Heart Like Hers are golden hour songs, whether you’re in the aboveground parts of Riverside or Oak Grove, or neither

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The yellow jacket made a few appearances last weekend. I was standing on the edge of the Charles with Michael’s family, and some Princeton rower boy blew me a kiss from the water and asked me if I caught it.

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I went to the Head of the Charles Regatta, got Georgetown cupcakes, books from Brookline Booksmith, and lived and loved for two cold days in the windiest city in the U.S. (I always thought Chicago was, but apparently that’s a myth and Boston is). My favorite part so far has been coming back to Vermont, tired and filled with the sights and sounds of phone service-less, back country New Hampshire, and doing my boatload of laundry from the weekend. And all of my clothes were soaking this time, whether from drinks or rain or being too close to my shower towel.

It’s gross, but I can tell that people look at me, lugging my stained backpack and ugly green track bag from high school around, wondering where I’m coming from and where I’m going next.

 

A Break From Myself

I fall in love a little bit with everywhere I go. In Burlington, I romanticized Church Street, and recalled lines of Cold Pastoral while overlooking the lake, listening to woodsy music and thinking about how the city is overpopulated and filled with Jeeps in traffic for a reason. In Manhattan, I romanticized the beaten subway steps and the feeling when you step out of Grand Central to crystalline buildings bigger than the sky.

And it’s usually the idea of the place that I fall in love with. Wearing my Free People dresses and Frye boots while flitting from gastropubs to late-night coffeehouses with my liberal friends that like skiing and Beat poetry; that was the Burlington idea. But so far Burlington has just been the overwhelming taste (not even smell) of marijuana mixed with cold nights and the gross feet scent that emits from many a ripped Birkenstock. I have to search for diversity. I have to search for people who actually want to talk about real stuff and not just their “I wish I was born in the 1960s and went to Woodstock” narratives. Because a lot of Burlington people want to save the world, but how are they supposed to do that from all the way up here? They are drifting.

I don’t have to like Burlington. I don’t have to wake up in the morning and tell myself to give it a chance, give it a semester, give it two. I’m not proud of my school, I’m not happy here. I owe no one my do’s or do nots. This is simply the way it is.

Last Tuesday night, the cheapest deal on a flight was Burlington to Dulles. I felt like Amanda Bynes in What a Girl Wants, leaving with no notice besides a voicemail left for her mother in their fifth-floor walk up in Chinatown. And I kind of was. I told my mom I was leaving only the night before, when I was dehydrated and exhausted from trying to work out at the gym. She took it well, surprisingly, and the next day, I was off. A beautiful ruby blended into a Syracuse orange against the backdrop of the Green Mountains, and it almost made me love Burlington. Maybe if I lived in a cloud.

The drive on 495 into the city was amazing, especially with everything lit up on a Friday night. After a failed attempt at entering my Bloomingdale Airbnb, I ended up freaked out and uncomfortable in the The Melrose Georgetown Hotel in Foggy Bottom. They took pity on me and gave me a discounted room and I have never been more thankful. I fell asleep with a terrycloth robe on at two a.m., a huge print of George Washington above my headboard. I woke up significantly less terrified and walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. It was exactly as I had seen it in Iron Jawed Angels, My Date With the President’s Daughter (seeing the Lincoln Memorial was really cool for me), and all of the American history non-fiction picture books I took out from the library when I was ten.

I realized how much I missed the fast paced life of cities, even in Connecticut. My small hometown was busier than Burlington could ever be. Everyone here was wearing business casual getups with sensible shoes, hopping on the G2 heading east or walking straight down 16th street without looking up from their phone once. And nobody smiled at you walking down the street. It was like New York, except dotted with mock duomos and rotundas and many more embassies.

“People thought that New Yorkers were rude, but really they were just leaving you to your own stuff. It was respectful! In a city with so many people, a New Yorker would always pretend not to see you when you didn’t want to be seen,” (Modern Lovers, Emma Straub)

I saw Georgetown at night surrounded by frat boys and drunk girls and policemen pedaling very fast on bicycles. The Georgetown grad in my Uber took my compliment of “Georgetown is like Yale on steroids” with sincere thanks because he was waitlisted there. The neighborhood of Georgetown is like Boston and Brooklyn getting married and having a more suburban baby. I was surrounded by cute babies in expensive clothing and attractive couples on walking dates.

I swam in the George Washington University Mount Vernon campus’ pool and saw another vibrant sunset rivaling the neon string piece at the Renwick gallery. I was shoved, sweaty, with Pear vodka into a residence hall basement kitchen with guys who played the entirety of Coloring Book. I was shoved into the Vex with the same people to walk and jump and scream down the street to the crepe place that doesn’t close until 4 a.m. I was shoved into realizing what I wanted my college experience to be like, surrounded by future politicians and current ones and not being able to see the sun because of tall buildings and living in a place where everyone is a leader, where leadership is cool, where I could experience so many different things in one day.

Longing for the corner of 16th and Corcoran has already kicked in. I miss the Gregorian chant. I miss my mildly attractive Airbnb man. I miss all of the windows open with city noise coming from five stories below. It sounds dramatic, but I miss being excited to wake up.