Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Not Being a Hero on Alternative Spring Break

I just came back from my third Alternative Spring Break trip, and it was refreshingly wonderful. Every year on these trips, one song emerges as the “trip song.” It usually comes from a set of three CDs that the group leaders burn prior with two or three suggestions on them from each participant. Last year, a song called “Hey Eugene!” by Pink Martini defined our week. By the cool ability music has, it simultaneously perfectly mirrored the mood of the trip, while also creating that mood.

We loved “Hey Eugene!” because its spirit was happy, goofy, dance-able, soulful and we subconsciously decided at some point that spirit was what the trip was going to be. I look back on my week last year, and the memories play to the tune of “Hey Eugene!” — the steady backing beat, the chorus of gospel singers in the background. I see us dancing in a circle on our second to last day on the work site, each of us — including the older Habitat builders — taking a 20 second solo in the middle of the circle.

This year, a song called “Hero” by Family of the Year articulated the kind of feeling that I’ll remember when thinking about the trip years from now. “Hero” is very different from “Hey Eugene!” It’s about growing up, the embodiment of “Boyhood”, a movie that features it on its soundtrack. As I see it, the narrator is a late adolescent. He sings over and over in the refrain: “Let me go,/ I don’t want to be your hero,/ I don’t want to be a big man,/ I just want to fight like everyone else.”

The song articulates a very real adolescent kind of feeling. In the second verse, he shows he’s skeptical of adult life: “Your masquerade,/ I don’t want to be a part of your parade.” In the wonderful verse that follows, he explains that his desires are humble: “While holding down/ a job to keep my girl around,/ maybe buy me some new strings,/ and her and I a night on the weekend.” He doesn’t want to be a hero or a big man; instead, he wants some guitar strings and a dinner date with his girlfriend.

ASB this year was kind of about this idea. One theory, which I certainly haven’t thought about until now, is that we attached ourselves to this song because being in college — especially at Georgetown — is kind of like being asked to be a hero a lot. We have to get jobs and be good to each other and look good and explain to people why we chose the major we chose. But all that’s scary and exhausting and sometimes I, at least, want guitar strings and a date with a girl I like.

ASB gave me and a lot of people on the trip this year those things, I think. In another verse the narrator sings: “We can whisper things,/ Secrets from our American dreams,/ Baby needs some protection,/ But I’m a kid like everyone else.” When ASB worked really well, on those late nights we stayed up talking, or on long car rides where we learned about each other’s family, we were whispering secrets from our American dreams to each other.

When I hear the song from now on, I’ll always think of a few faces who also loved it, who felt the same way that I did and wanted to talk about all that. In this sense, music — be it in a physical CD with a worn case or in a tiny little package of megabytes — is a kind of tangible memory-recaller that you can carry around, which is a cool idea. I can always play the song and remember a not-so-easily-articulated feeling, and I can always go back to these people whom I’ve come to respect and admire and love.

For that I am very grateful to this little three-minute collection of megabytes.

William Fonseca is a junior in the College. Spring Semester Days appears every other Monday on  

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