KC Accidental“– Broken Social Scene

“All your kind, they’re, all your kind, they’re/All your kind, they’re coming clean.”

Moving to New York City from a small town is such a cliché. Every dreamy-eyed artist has wanted to take their life’s next big step moving to a place so full of life. And then I did it.

The most important part of my life has always been creating art. For most of my life, I’ve been a serious painter. During my junior year, I discovered a love for creative writing by posting short stories into random forums and getting feedback. However, my high school offered a half-hearted art program and no creative writing courses at all. My dream has always been to go to school somewhere where my art could be taken as seriously as my math scores.

I was with My Kind. That’s what I knew when I first got to Pratt Institute.

xoxosos“– keshi

is my favorite song of his. It was even better live.

A trail of these spray-painted designs led to the venue.

I’m a big concert person. After committing to Pratt the first thing I did was buy tickets for a bunch of shows in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Keshi’s 2019 September show was the first I attended in Brooklyn. It was also the first concert I planned on attending alone. I didn’t have any close friends at Pratt yet, having only been there for a month and being one of the only people in a double room with no roommate.

I was really struggling with loneliness, being several states from home and away from everybody I was super close to. All throughout high school and middle school I had an extremely close-knit group of friends. It made that first month extremely difficult because I had unrealistic expectations. Of course, it would take longer than a week to make a friendship that equivocated to my 8-year long friendships back home!

The Keshi concert was only a few days away and I was finalizing plans to get to the venue safely. By complete fluke, I found out that a girl who lived a floor above me was also going! We made plans to go together. It was going to be our first time hanging out one-on-one.

We had a spectacular time. The show was in the backroom of a super hip record store. It was very intimate and cozy, with maybe 100 people in the room. After the show, we went and got tacos from a stand a few blocks away. We were just about to hop on a train when two other girls told us we missed getting pictures with the artist. No lie, we ran more than 4 blocks back to the venue and only just got there in time before the artist left.

I made my first real human connection with a person who is now one of my closest friends. It was a great night by any standards. It was as if some higher being was assuring me everything was going to be okay after all.

Date With The Night“– Yeah Yeah Yeahs

is a getting-ready-for-a-good-time anthem.

I eventually got a new roommate a few months into the first semester. I was afraid I would get somebody that clashed with my habits– or worse, somebody who snored. But my roommate is phenomenal.

And because of my roommate and new friends, I started going out more. My first time ice skating, my first time trying Korean BBQ, my first time listening to poetry readings. It was everything I was hoping for and more.

Tongue Tied“– Grouplove

is THE “I’m-making-memories-with-the-people-I-love” anthem.

How does the saying go again? “It’s not the destination, but the journey?”

I love the coming home bit after a long night out with friends. There’s nothing more satisfying than being sore and worn out after hours of having fun. New York City is the best place to waste time in, just wandering around and looking at nothing in particular.

I have so many vivid memories of coming home at 2 or 3 a.m. with aching feet barely able to keep my eyes open. Resting my head against my friend’s as we wait for our stop. Stumbling home, giddy with accomplishment.

Planning to do it all again the next week.

Fiya“– Tune-Yards

has the same passionate clunkiness as my car. RIP.

A photo of the damage.

The Shitbox was a cherry red 1994 Jeep Cherokee. It was the kind of car you amiably joked about replacing. Personified, I’ve always imagined it as an old lady dressed in luxury furs with the rasp of a smoker. It drove around three generations of Joneses well enough. I only had one near-death experience in it so I’ll call it a job well-done.

My dad liked how you could stand on the pedal and the speed wouldn’t go above 50 mph because I have an untrustworthy tendency to pump the gas to the tempo of whatever I’m listening to. I liked being able to do turns so tight it felt like the front could connect with the back, like car-yoga. Parallel parking was a dream.

The Shitbox lived up to its name: no AC, no heat; only one working windshield wiper; the CD player gobbled your CDs; the gas meter froze around empty so fuel levels became a guessing game. Once I got pulled over by a cop because the taillights were so dim they looked like they weren’t working. But it was like a cockroach: it never died.

Nonetheless, it was the perfect car. It had a personality. I drove it through high school. An uncountable tally of major high-school moments happened in that car: school dances, first dates, car-pooling for swim practice.

A monstrous tree branch took it out the week before I came home for Thanksgiving break. Perfectly cleaved in two even bits, like folding a piece of paper hot-dog style. The roof rested on the headrests. Both headlights had popped out of their sockets.

It still sprung to life with a rusty purr. Drive-able.

My first year of college has seen the end of many high school norms: long-term friendships, a reasonable sleep schedule, and my car. I kind of thought the Shitbox would last forever. Fast forward to decades after an apocalypse wipes humanity out and only cockroaches and my shitty Jeep left function-able. If I had my way, the Shitbox would have gone out with a Viking funeral. The Shitbox had the last laugh in the end. The tow truck broke down in our driveway hauling it away.

Strange Trails– Lord Huron

is the musical equivalent to getting lost in the woods. If anything reminds me of home it’s this album.

Nothing but mountains and trees in every direction.

I went hiking with my father and grandfather the last weekend of Christmas break. We drove an hour and a half to White Oak Canyons. We drove past acre upon acre of farmland, only stopping at a gas station for mediocre sandwiches and coffee. This area is comprised of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it villages and literal log cabins. The residents chop their firewood and always have a shotgun handy. They grow the best apples and the air is so crisp it dries out your tongue.

Hiking this hill is the first time I’ve ever thought of myself becoming an old person. I don’t mean that in a morbid I’ll-never-make-it-that-far way. Just that I’ve always thought it would take so long to get to where I want to be that I never imagined what comes after that. And I’ve spent so much time trying to leave Virginia that I’ve never thought about coming back. But hiking this hill, I thought I’d like to, and that surprised me.

Please Take Me Home“– blink-182

is just too fitting. “Too late, it’s gone/I bet you’re sad/This is the best time we ever had.”

It’s about 8 or 9 hours from New York’s Port Authority bus station to D.C.’s Union station by bus. This sounds especially good knowing the tickets are dirt cheap– my ride home cost $15 and it wasn’t even shady. A cute boy fell asleep on my shoulder on the way home and I was too anxious about the virus to do anything about it.

I went home for my Spring break and never went back to Brooklyn. My second semester ended abruptly due to coronavirus. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to most people. 2020 was such a great year for me, it was disappointing not to be able to finish it with a bang. I hate feeling like something started but never ended.

I miss Brooklyn, my friends, and my education. I’m hoping and praying that 2021 will let me go back.

Read Next:
Dear Emma: Letters To My Younger Self
The Art of Healthy Masculinity In Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Bandaging My Anxiety-Induced Wounds