So tonight on my evening commute home from work (which today means an 11pm subway ride), we found ourselves on the Party Train. There we were, three exceptionally white girls tired from another intensive day of folding, extroverting, and attempting to translate between all sorts of languages and cultures, dressed in our three different colors of Friday Cargos, taking our seats on what appeared to be just another subway car – until the doors closed. As soon as they slammed shut the entire car seemed transformed a-la flashmob meets step team, and we found ourselves in the middle of a serious jam session. Fifteen teenagers at least (because teenagers rarely come in groups smaller than that) were spread throughout the train and they began beatboxing, rapping, and pounding out complementary rhythms. A couple girls were dancing, they were clapping and laughing, and it was almost impossible not to tap you foot along. This continued for several more stops, interrupted only by the moderately subtle passing of bottles from one braced-face to another, until finally we reached our stop (coincidentally also the next stop for the party train as well.) The entire train was filled with their musical racket, seemingly shaking on the tracks, alive with their Friday night high.
Some people on the train were perturbed, some rolled their eyes, but I simply smiled wide with amusement. One of the teens next to me leaned over and said ” those black kids need to learn how to control themselves in public, huh?” gesturing to his friends and I chuckled. “Not at all,” I said, “I’m just jealous I’m not having as much fun as they are!”
It got me to thinking about a few things. First, why are we white people so lame? Never in my life have a seen a bunch of white kids burst out into random musical exploits – except on Glee, but really, that doesn’t count. Even the loudest gaggle of teenage white girls is just – loud. At least these kids were loud with a good beat. I feel like I was never that cool as a teenager, but I wish I was.
Secondly, speaking of wishing, it made me reminiscent of those days – and it made me realize how far gone they really are. Not in some forlorn oh my life is over now that I’m old sort of way, because at the very least I have the ability to legally drink and the income to purchase said legal alcohol, but in a friendly reminder sort of way. I remember my high school days fondly, and look at my own young self with the same cheerful amusement that comes to my mind when I see these kids. It also offered me a little perspective. When I’m facing new challenges and my first real steps into the adult world, and as I’m doing things like picking my own healthcare plan and thinking about rent and bills, I feel really young. Sometimes I feel like a child, and I wonder how I got here and when they’re going to find out that I’m actually not ready for this and that I should probably just move back into my parents house and pretend to be a student again. But then I see kids like these – with braces, hiding liquor, boys and girls draped across each other, one girl crying and the boys teasing, stomping and singing and howling at the top of their lungs – and I realize that I’m at least a little bit grown up, and maybe I’m ready for this.