Surviving Freshman Year: A Playlist

Everything is coming to a close and I don’t know what to make of it. I’ve been sick for the past few days so all I’ve been doing is writing and cleaning out my Spotify playlists. I realized from Spotify mainly how much changing I’ve done and how sentimental (well, isn’t it always) music was to me this year. At first I thought I still listened to the same music, but my curated playlists from high school and now are pretty different.

A lot of my musical growth this year has come from boys. Most of my interactions with guys started over music, Mac Demarco being the main player. It’s funny, because in two weeks when I see him it will basically be a reunion of me and every guy I’ve ever expressed interest in this year.

One of the first guys gave me The Strokes. The Strokes were a big part of my fall semester playlists and they were basically all I listened to as I walked from class to class in the brisk weather. He also gave me Courtney Barnett, whose Avant Gardener I will never forget. I learned all of the words to that song in a heartbeat; it’s hilarious, it’s UVM, it’s amazing.

The guy who painted my spring semester with music gave me a lot: LCD Soundsystem, Kaytranada, $uicideboy$, and renewed appreciation for Cage the Elephant and Matt & Kim. He reminded me of the L Train and he has a girlfriend now, or at least that’s what I’ve gathered from his Instagram. LCD will always be a solid walking-to-class choice, thank you.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my old suitemate for letting me lay in his bed, smoke his weed, and listen to Lonerism. That really set the tone for my UVM experience. Also, thanks for being the only straight (?) man who appreciated unreleased Lana.

The following songs are songs I’m going to listen to as we drive away from my new city, possibly for the last time, loaded with boxes and boxes of clothes, memories, textbooks, and my winter boots. They’re the songs that characterized this translucent April, the April that helped me realize a lot about myself. Spring has always been like that for me, but April is ending in peace this time, and not open chaos. April came in like a lion and out like a lamb.

ragged wood – fleet foxes

“come down from the mountain, you have been gone too long. spring is upon us, follow my only song. settle down with me by the fire of my yearning. you should come back home, back on your own now…”

feeling whitney – post malone

to each their own and find peace in knowing, ain’t always broken, but here’s to hoping. show no emotion, against your coding, and just act as hard as you can…”

the dreamer – the tallest man on earth

“oh sometimes the blues is just a passing bird, and why can’t that always be?”

shine – mondo cozmo

“stick with me, jesus, through the coming storm, I’ve come to you in search of something I have lost. shine down a light on me and show a path, I promise you I will return if you take me back…”

an illustration of loneliness (sleepless in new york) – courtney barnett

wondering what you’re doing, what you’re listening to, which quarter of the moon you’re viewing from your bedroom. watching all the movies, drinking all the smoothies, swimming at the pool, I’m thinking of you too…”

hang loose – alabama shakes

“hang loose, hang loose, let the ocean worry about being blue. hang loose, hang loose…”

atlas hands – benjamin francis leftwich

“take me to the docks, there’s a ship without a name there and it is sailing to the middle of the sea. the water there is deeper than anything you’ve ever seen, jump right in and swim until you’re free. I will remember your face, ’cause I am still in love with that place. but when the stars are the only things we share, will you be there?”

The following are songs I’ll characterize with the uncertainty of the beginning. The plane rides, the sweat, the crunchy hair days when everything was humidity. Dropping my eight dollar wrap on a sidewalk in the District while my headphones flew out of my ears. Making myself Nutella rice cakes and doing my Spanish homework ten minutes before class. When I tried so desperately to pretend I had it all figured out, and all my dreams were so, so big. And towards the end of my fall semester, when everything seemed like a tragedy and I went home numb.

the moment – tame impala

“in the end it’s stronger than I know how to be, and I can’t just spend my whole lifetime wondering. I fell in love with the sound of my heels on the wooden floor, I don’t want my footsteps to be silent anymore…”

crane your neck – lady lamb

and how it hurts, even in the sun. it’s a god-damned joke how we can hurt even in the sun. for a heart beats the best in the bed beside the one that it loves, oh yes a heart beats the best when in a head, death becomes irrelevant. ’cause if you’re dreaming about dying, then you’re not really living, darling. you’ve gotta be starving, you’ve gotta be starving for it...”

lonely – mean lady

it’s almost over, time when we’re not together. I feel it getting better all the time. and what if it takes too long? what if it takes too long and I’m lonely? how can it break me and make me so strong? what if it takes too long?”

new person, same old mistakes – tame impala

“and I know that it’s hard to digest, a realization is as good as a guess. and I know it seems wrong to accept, but you’ve got your demons and she’s got her regrets…”

wanderer, wandering – slow club

“I’ll ask where you’re going, and what you’re doing. you have no answer, ’cause you’re a wanderer, wandering, you’re a wanderer, wandering. and every second is a pounding drum, you’re leaning over me to put another record on, and every other guess is just cold hard luck…”

17 – youth lagoon

“surrounded by nothing, but nothing’s surrounded by us, it’s just me in my room, with my eyes shut. oh, when I was seventeen, my mother said to me, ‘don’t stop imagining, the day that you do is the day that you die…'”

hard to explain – the strokes

“I say the right thing but act the wrong way, I like it right here but I cannot stay… I missed the last bus, we’ll take the next train, I’ll try but you see, it’s hard to explain…”

The following are songs I’ll associate with the sadness of excitement. With the first drives up for the purpose of orienting myself here. With the Champlain sunsets, the firsts, the endless Ben and Jerry’s post-class outings, the sun catching itself perfectly in a window as I study. With the times I’d looked around with a soft sense of realization and wonder and knew I would be okay, and times I’d fallen asleep blurring the lines between here and home.

man on fire – edward sharpe & the magnetic zeroes

“come dance with me, over murder and pain, come dance with me, over heartache and shame. I wanna see our bodies burning like old big suns, I wanna know what we’ve been learning and learning from…”

reality in motion – tame impala

it made my heart run in circles and overflow, and I was closer than ever to letting go. it made my heart run in circles and overdrive, and I was closer than ever to feeling alive… heading for the deep end, soon as I remember, baby I surrender, I just need to breathe out, decisions are approaching, reality in motion…”

tiny cities – flume ft. beck

“can I? should I? find my way home? now did I, think I’d better go home. all I said I needed was gone, but I thought I heard it all wrong… but it’s never easy when you think you have it in control, somehow you get caught up in the moment and you never know…”

where the skies are blue – the lumineers

you’re gonna leave, it ain’t gonna break my heart, mama, cause I’ve never seen nobody quite like you. and if you ever change your tune, oh the world’s got the best of you, you can always find me where the skies are blue…”

settle – two door cinema club

“’cause I see the world in different colors to someone like you. the city will pull you in, romantic and drenched in sin, love. you only have but a time until this place will swallow you whole…”

no no no – beirut

don’t know the first thing about who you are, my heart is waiting, taken in from the start. if we don’t go now, we won’t get very far. don’t know the first thing about who you are…”

rivers and roads – the head and the heart

been talkin’ about the way things change, and my family lives in a different state. if you don’t know what to make of this, then we will not relate… rivers and roads, rivers and roads. rivers ’til I reach you…”

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.