Sometimes, I go on Spotify and look at all the playlists with ‘Princeton’ in the title. I like looking at these playlists because each one was made by someone at Princeton, building a collection of songs during their time here. Each one represents an individual journey through Princeton, and it’s nice to imagine what they could be.
Every so often, there are songs that I recognize, even have in my own playlists. For the most part, their names are just names - each is a little mystery, revealing nothing about the memories and places and feelings within.
I call mine the Princeton Playlist, (I thought I was being clever, but this seems to be an alliteration very commonly discovered) and I have editions for each year I’ve spent here.
Here are some highlights.
“Lovely,” by Billie Eilish featuring Khalid: I think of morning air that is promising fog. I think of the walk to class from Forbes, smelling air that tells me it’s autumn. I walk past Spelman Hall between Zodiac heads by Ai Weiwei and Picasso’s ‘Head of a Woman.’ I walk through Whitman and its stone step that says ‘YES!’ I walk towards the Butler column and Fine Hall in the distance and the quiet surge of students through a college campus in the morning.
“Seasons,” by Greyson Chance: Elm Drive is a long road that weaves all the way down campus. Usually, only University vehicles trundle along it. However, when everything is quiet and lambent at night, Elm Drive is lit only by the soft lamplight, making it my favorite place to take my bike for a joyride. Past midnight, I would take the long route back home from my friend’s room in Blair Arch. I’d travel through the heart of campus, everything quiet and calm and asleep, the wind in my face.
“Harmony Hall,” by Vampire Weekend: On the last day of class, I step out of McCosh Hall onto north campus. North campus is closest to downtown Princeton, where Nassau Hall and Firestone Library are located. It is always bustling with activity, more so now that the weather is warm. There had been rain earlier, matting down the grass, droplets still buoyant on flowers. There’s a lot going on over here, from the statues to the architecture. As I bike through it all, I think about going to the gym later, or playing some pool, or enjoying the nice weather - and studying for Dean’s Date, of course.
The air promises possibility.
It’s early morning on a brisk autumn day, or a late night, or a spring afternoon. You’ll have a song for all these moments, too. And many more.