I’m standing on my Village A rooftop, looking out at the lights in Rosslyn. It’s either late on Friday or early on Saturday, depending on how you want to look at it, but it’s far too quiet. It’s kind of hard to fathom this is the last time I’ll be up here as a student. I’ll be back here someday to show off to my family that “this is where I used to live.” And I’ll look out at the span of the river and smile thinking about the good times on the roof and the people I spent them with. But they aren’t here now.
I understand that Georgetown’s decision to send us home is ultimately the right one. I know I’m lucky I got the email about moving out when I was driving south and not north. I know I’m very fortunate to be able to be at home during this strange time we find ourselves in. I know I will probably be okay and that others are not as fortunate. I know all of that, but leaving still makes me sad.
You know how sometimes you have a very distinct memory of where you are the first time you hear a song? I can tell you that the first time I heard Led Zeppelin was in the third grade in the back seat of my friend Christopher’s dad’s car, going to play laser tag for our friend Brandon’s birthday.
Standing here tonight has me thinking about warmer nights when the music was loud and I have another one of those moments. My friends and I were all wearing Hawaiian shirts even though there was no theme for the evening, all with one too many buttons undone because we thought it was funny and it really was a sweaty night for dancing.
With the crowd thinned out sometime after 1 a.m. we decided to call it a night after one more song. Timmy picked it. He’d been doing the music all night. The bass pulsed and the rhythm pushed forward, but the song didn’t seem to be going anywhere. I’d never heard it before, and I wasn’t sure I liked it.
After three minutes I was staring out at the cars driving down the parkway on the other side of the river when I heard the synthesizer and a collective voice swelling. I turned around just in time for the drop. Now I got it.
I’ve been listening to “Dance Yrslf Clean” a lot recently. The slow build feels like the tension happening around me, as we have all just been waiting for the drop and the tune to change.
Despite immediately falling in love with “Dance Yrslf Clean,” I had never given the rest of LCD Soundsystem a shot. I did this past Monday on a Greyhound bus. I liked it. I liked it a lot. But I wasn’t really listening. The tension was still growing around me and the vistas off I-89 in Vermont were a gorgeous distraction.
Late on Wednesday night, after the drop finally came, I found myself up alone in my bedroom at home, incredibly bummed out about the prospect of missing out on the last few weeks of my last semester on campus. I was still on an LCD Soundsystem kick, and about to call it a night I heard a frantic piano starting up. I didn’t remember this. Which one was this? “All My Friends”? I hadn’t really been listening.
But then I did, for seven minutes absorbed by James Murphy singing about trying to throw a party and pretending to be young again, and how it’s hard to have friends like you did back then. When he got to the final refrain, asking over and over “Where are your friends tonight?” I had tears running down my face. I didn’t know where all my friends were, but I knew I wasn’t with them. I wondered when I might be again.
I’m lucky I got to see some of them tonight before standing out here on the roof alone. I know this goodbye isn’t forever, and I can hold out hope that we get to have a commencement and a chance to all get together again. But who knows. No one does right now.
If I could see all my friends tonight I’d tell them all I love them, I’ll miss them, and I’ll see them again soon. If I could see all my friends tonight I’d tell them to be healthy and safe and to take care of themselves. And if I could see all my friends tonight we’d dance one more time, just long enough so that when one song ends you stop, a little out of breath, and look up and smile at whoever you see across from you, feeling a little sweaty but so clean and happy in your soul, even if just for a few minutes.