Freshman Year! The Musical
So it's Orientation. Weird. Campus is sparse. Mostly it's just the new First Years, who are walking around in the same giddy packs as we did last year, going to the same workshops and discussion panels and into all the New Places that now feel like rooms in my house, and making the whole experience of coming here for the first time seem at once very present and very shut off. Fall is always deja-vu-like in that Proustian, involuntary memory sort of way, but seems especially so now being in the same place as last year, physically but not at all mentally, and instead watching all these other people surrounded by the same walled thrill and confusion of a new place and life. I'm a little jealous--freshman year still feels living. It has to, because Oberlin is the only thing that feels real at Oberlin--summer feels impossible as soon as it ends, and home feels like Oberlin because Oberlin feels like home. Many First Years, however, probably wouldn't agree to that just yet. This is still the awkward, frantic period, where you're either anxiously in love with or scared of everyone and everything. But it's okay--things get better. Or at least less frantic, and sometimes they're not even that awkward (we are still Obies, after all).
One of my favorite New Year Cleanse rituals is to vacuum out my iTunes--get rid of the music that's too glued to the previous years in order to de-clutter for this year's soundtrack-to-be. Memories are almost as inextricable from songs as they are from smells...for instance, nothing brings 8th grade back better than the sweet melancholy chorus of Vitamin C's Graduation. But it's hard to get rid of that stuff--what if you wake up one morning feeling thirteen again? In the end, my iPod strip-down is never as thorough as it could be. Most songs make it to the gates of banishment and are thoughtfully, if not a little embarrassedly, spared.
So in honor of the season and the fleeting nature of beginnings, here (in no important order) are the songs that helped make up freshman year, submitted by an assortment of kick-ass Obies:
Murder In The City (The Avett Brothers) - For missing where you came from + the people who love you + the people you love.
Cyclone (Baby Bash ft. T-Pain) - Because college is sexy?
Make Me A Pallet (Gillian Welch/Mississippi John Hurt/The Black River Belles) - Because sometimes it can also be lonely.
Come Sail Away (Styx) - Because you're sailing away! Into the future of your life! Into the great blue yonder!
Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl (Broken Social Scene) - I thought I'd stop listening to this when I turned 18. Stupidest assumption ever.
O-O-h Child (Nina Simone) - Someday we'll get it together.
The Call (Regina Spektor) - A paean towards maintaining relationships back home and fighting the war of college. Also it was in The Chronicles of Narnia.
Just Like A Woman (Bob Dylan) - For those times when you think you're old and want to be but don't know how.
Let The Beat Build (Nyle) - The video is a doppelganger for Oberlin, and the song is an exuberant celebration of collaboration and community and people making stuff together.
You Swan Go On (Mount Eerie) - A beautiful song for leaving somewhere and then being somewhere.
Wagon Wheel (Old Crow Medicine Show) - A crucial inclusion to any playlist, and I think we all know why.
Cause I Got High (Afroman) - Eh...
Are We There Yet (Ingrid Michaelson) - For that in-between time, when you're not sure if you're homesick or if you feel like you're home.
Hang On Kids (Ghost Mice) - Because finally you can look disdainfully and sympathetically back upon those harried high school halls.
So there it is. May your iPods/Walkmen/tape players/record players/other hiply outdated music listening devices be filled with only the sweetest of strains this fine year. Godspeed, all you Obies of new, old, and future years to come.