Songs for Staring Out Metro North Train Windows From A Window Seat Person

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I love trains. I will always talk about them to anyone who will listen. I love claiming my little corner of the world (the window seat) and watching the landscape of the shoreline as it turns into one tumultuous timelapse before me. I love people watching; the mothers who take their kids to the city for the day (especially the ones who loudly Facetime their spouses the entire ride), couples on dates, engaging in quiet conversation and sometimes eating Goldfish, Greenwich dads in tailored suits reading emails on their Macbooks. I have a ritual: I drink a small Dunkin Donuts caramel swirl latte from Union Station if last night’s sleep calls for it and put my North Face backpack between my freshly shaven legs, then set out to make the perfect playlist for my favorite journey of all time. I have curated four playlists based on moods I am usually in on the rides to and from. Get some earbuds, put your hair up, slide right on Snapchat to collect some geotags, eat a bagel or something and enjoy. Also, make sure, at least once in your life, to skip school and go to Manhattan. Rory Gilmore did it, and so can you.

Passive Aggressive

For when it’s raining and you’re angry about all the shitty boys you have kissed/you just saw something you shouldn’t have seen and wish you could unsee/you just did something very wrong you cannot undo and you are hungry and tired/you can feel your life spiraling downward and you want to presage the ruin of your short life in song

  1. The Flowers
  2. Capsized
  3. All These Things That I’ve Done
  4. Helplessness Blues
  5. 1965
  6. Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl
  7. The World at Large
  8. Obsessions
  9. Sweet Disposition
  10. Yes I’m Changing

Hopeful

For when you see the sunlight through all the pretty trees in the pretty towns on-peak/you are going to meet a nice person at a nice cafe in a nice part of Manhattan/you had some nice fruit for breakfast and maybe a grilled cheese with seedy bread/your hair is freshly washed and your skin is evenly lotioned

  1. I Just Wanna Be Somebody Else
  2. East Harlem
  3. My Girls
  4. Two Weeks
  5. Unbelievers
  6. Someday
  7. My Body
  8. Ice Melts
  9. Walking On A Dream
  10. Deadbeat Summer

Reflectively Nostalgic

For the train ride back, when your car is slowly emptying by the time you reach New Haven/you just went and saw some cool art and you realized that people lived thousands of years ago and made their own bread and didn’t have cars/you realize that soon you will be 19 or 29 or 47 and almost dead and this might even be your last train ride to Manhattan/you are a sensitive fern

  1. Us
  2. Feel It All Around
  3. Resonance
  4. Yellow
  5. Angel from Montgomery
  6. Long Way From Home
  7. Swingin’ Party
  8. Sleepyhead (octbr flip)
  9. Closer To Me
  10. Lose It

It Is Early Morning I Want Coffee

For when you don’t even want to think about making a playlist/your jacket is making you sweat and you can tell you will be carrying it around all day/you forgot to put on mascara or deodorant and you are pissed off/you are unwrapping an everything bagel and the parchment paper crinkles

  1. Heart It Races
  2. Sleeping Ute
  3. Folding Chair
  4. Somewhere Only We Know
  5. Young Folks (also pretend you’re Serena Van Der Woodsen, returning from boarding school Labor Day weekend in New York City)
  6. We’re Not Just Friends
  7. Wait Up (Boots of Danger)
  8. Valerie (Mark Ronson Version)
  9. Go Outside
  10. Postcards from Italy

It’s Hard to Romanticize a Sweaty Seventeen-Year-Old Boy Wearing $100 Green Dress Pants and a Navy Vineyard Vines Quarter-zip, But I Did It Anyway

       The first time I really fell in love with Connecticut was when I met my third boyfriend: exactly my height, wearing Vans sneakers with dress clothing, at a fencing tournament in a local shoreline town, eating a bagel. I have a tendency to rebel against the basic principles I believe in, and, at the time, I did not go near people who spoke in favor of Wall Streets and skewed tax brackets or Chris Christie being our next president, but he showed me what I was truly missing out on. It was time for me to change again. It was time to shed the confines of my pretentiously hippie-liberal skin that defined my previous relationship and find someone else… someone else’s (conservative) visions and (suppressed) emotions I could devote my time to while completing the busiest year of my high school career. Because I was “ready,” I said, and I wanted to commit.

       And you’re not even supposed to find people at fencing tournaments. Everyone is either extremely odd, a tri-season athlete filling their time, or smart and rich. The odd ones date the other odd ones or barely understand the basic concept of social interaction, the tri-season athletes are douchebags, and the smart and rich ones are either taken or douchebags or both. But it was so early in the fencing tournament season, and I was in denial. And he made the effort to eat the classic tournament waffles with me in the cafeteria, while all the freshman girls on my team watched and reviewed him out of five stars. He smelled really good, but he had a lot of games on his phone.

       I told people at my college orientation that I dated this fencer-turned-engineer and we went to New York City together all the time. That is so implausible. I barely worked when I dated him. I was so poor. He was the one who fronted the bill for Colony Grill and Wild Rice. That is also the thing. We dated for less than a month. But his staunchly white golf hats and terrible taste in movies awakened something in me: that Connecticut does not exist in the small-town vacuum I thought it does, that there is more to the left of New Haven than I thought.

       My parents do not allow me as much freedom as most kids have, and in order to see him, I took trains. I drove an hour in a car over many crumbling bridges once as my mom complained about the world stopping once you hit the Q bridge. I listened to When You Were Young by The Killers and New York City by Among Savages in romantic excess, feeling thIMG_8851e whoosh of the train pull away, back to my reality. It was so cold, and the layers of jacket coating my skin made me shiver with nostalgic anticipation, because I knew it would be short. I knew short replies and purely Snapchat would cause our affair to surface. It was cold in the way that my cheap faux-leather boots made my stockinged feet sweat on the red linoleum floors of the Metro North train I took through neighboring towns to get back to New Haven, and feel the quiet, humming disposition of the mirrored tunnels and tired people clunking their way up stairs and through Dunkin Donuts lines.

       In that blank time I had the opportunity to think. That maybe people only knew what they knew, and boys had nine girlfriends in one year for a reason. And maybe it only takes a few dates to really show someone what driving a nice car through a rich city dotted with bulbous trees and sandy parking lots feels like. And it takes one second to remember that while you sit there in his expensive car driving through million dollar real estate listening to Coldplay, kids are fashioning drug deals and gun exchanges in Bridgeport streets only a mile behind you, and that he doesn’t care and you want to. And it’s okay that he wears Vineyard Vines, and you’ll buy your own long sleeve from a pretentious boutique in Madison with that whale on the front pocket months from now.

       But it’s not okay to feel forced to watch Talladega Nights while giving a hand job, and no one should ever have to be ignored for hours straight in a sticky metal-scented high school gym, and hugs are not too much to ask for, ever, from anyone. Bronx style pizza is not the devil, food service people are nice and tired and deserve your respect, and your seventeen year old boyfriend does not know everything and will never. He will go to WPI and learn how to wear a hard hat and tell people who do actual work what to do; what he does best. And some day he will profit off of disaster if he uses his back-up plan, investing in medical supply companies that will eventually eradicate the Zika virus or whatever new plague that flourishes south of the equator because that is how the world works. And sometimes you have to walk through Fairfield to really understand Bridgeport, and it does not take much for East Haven to blend into New Haven, and you will remember this when you meet the next aloof one percenter with soft hair and a vague interest in internet memes: people miss out on you, and then they go to engineering school and hate math, because they hate themselves and ruin their skin bleaching grass-stained golf caps the wrong way and you don’t.