When the Class of 2027 arrived at the Lowry Center on move-in day, we heard the first sounds of our collaborative efforts: a shared “Arrival Day Playlist” on Spotify that we created over the summer. With 88 songs and a runtime of nearly six hours, the playlist included everything from Kendrick Lamar’s “ELEMENT.” to composer Gustav Mahler’s nine-minute “Symphony No. 4 in G Major: IV. Sehr behaglich.” The playlist was no less varied, triumphant and bittersweet than the events and emotions I experienced that day.
“Mariposa” by the Peach Tree Rascals captured the blur of overwhelming excitement, nerves and tinges of sadness that the night before move-in brought. As I started packing, the singers echoed my anticipation of getting to Gambier with the first line: “I can’t wait for you to come my way.” Since I visited Kenyon last fall, all I’ve wanted was to settle into my new community. Simultaneously, the line “I don’t like feelings” conveyed my anxiety around meeting new people, moving into a new place and saying goodbye to one home while adapting to another.
After a restless night of sleep, my actual move-in process began with Clairo’s “Bags” as the metaphorical backdrop. She croons “Walkin’ out the door with your bags,” in what felt to me like a direct reference to the process of moving in. Yet, from the perspective of one’s family members singing the song to them, the line “pardon my emotions” takes on a much deeper meaning: The people supporting our journey to the Hill leave us to take our first steps alone. Clairo’s reminder that “every minute counts” is both a reflective thought from our loved ones and a piece of advice for our next four years.
Somewhat comically, “Let It Go” from Disney’s “Frozen” was featured on the playlist, and surprisingly its lyrics are quite fitting for move-in. Idina Menzel’s Elsa reminds us that “It’s time to see what [we] can do / To test the limits and break through.” She also happily proclaims, “I’m free / Let it go,” voicing my jubilation at starting the first fully independent chapter of my life. Though this song may have been put on the playlist for laughs, it is surprisingly relevant to our newfound freedom.
On a different note, Mac Miller’s “The Spins” encapsulates the deluge of information that was our first two orientation group meetings. Miller proclaims almost as an afterthought, “oh yeah, I just graduated high school.” The youthful style of the song calls attention to our transition from high school to college. His plea to “give us a chance” was relatable to me, as a first-year, trying to find a break in orientation scheduling to process the new information being thrown our way. The imploring and slightly high-school tone of the song reflects my initial feelings of being overshadowed by the grandeur and accomplishments of Kenyon and its students.
Taylor Swift’s “Never Grow Up (Taylor’s Version)” is reminiscent of the bittersweet nature of moving into college. She harkens back to our childhood, saying, “you can’t wait to move out someday and call your own shots.” Like many of my fellow first-years, I have spent so many years anticipating my move to college that the reality of leaving my family didn’t sink in until I stood alone in my Mather Residence Hall room. Swift sings about this feeling with the lines, “Here I am in my new apartment / In a big city, they just dropped me off.” Though Gambier is in no way a “big city,” Swift’s sentiment certainly rang true that first night.
Noah Kahan’s “New Perspective” brought all the discordant feelings from our first day together. Perhaps “New Perspective” was added to the playlist because the line “you made Ohio feel just like Central Park” voiced an optimistic first-year’s hopes that Kenyon would do the same. Along the same lines, Kahan singing “the intersection got a Target / And they’re callin’ it ‘downtown'” feels as though it were written about Kenyon and our Walmart. Yet when he said, “Silence is makin’ me nostalgic,” I was brought back to my eight-hour drive to Kenyon, knowing this would be the last time I would see my family until the holidays. The refrain, “You and all of your new perspective now,” captures both the sadness of our families that we will inevitably return to them as different people than we left and the promises of the “new perspective[s]” we will gain on the Hill in the years to come.
Listening to the playlist we made together and envisioning the classmate who might have added each song affirmed my confidence in Kenyon and the Class of 2027 and heightened my excitement for getting to campus. The variety and fullness of the songs seems to me a reflection of Kenyon as a community.