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Best of SPM: Music edition

Subhead: My college experience, told through songs and tchotchkes


Best of SPM: Music edition

Subhead: My college experience, told through songs and tchotchkes

Songs are like snow globes. A lifetime of music listening amounts to a cavernous room full of the glass orbs, perched upon shelves teeming with the memories contained in each.

Some fall and break. A few are brutally shoved off the shelves, shattering and leaking glitter onto the floor. Those are the ones that you’ll never listen to again, that got left behind for some reason or another. A breakup. A change in taste. A loss.

Others are hidden away in deep corners, left to collect layers of dust and cobwebs, the water yellowing with time.

The favorites gleam with the evidence of care and attention. Those sit at eye level, always within reach. When these globes are shaken, the snow inside sways and settles in a graceful, practiced dance. They’re beautiful, or weird, or funky, or silly or all of the above.

In my head, the snow globes hold the songs, the shelves hold the eras, and the whole collection holds my entire life.

For this story, I asked State Press Magazine’s spring 2024 team to show me a few of their favorite snow globes from their collegiate collection, compiled in a playlist you can find here:

In return, I decided to share a few of my own. These are my defining songs from my university experience — so far.

'Someone you love,' 'someone you need'

For my first choice, I wanted to choose a song whose snow globe is immovable. Supreme. One of the heaviest on my shelves. "Somebody Else" by The 1975.

In my collection, this snow globe is in its own glass case, shining and locked away. I like to think only I know the passcode.

I can't really pinpoint why I love this song so much — I just know I always will. It keeps coming back to me, no matter how many tunes pass through the revolving door in and out of my life. This one is different; this one is important.

Maybe I decided on it one day in middle school because I thought liking The 1975 sounded cool. This may be a cheater choice because "Somebody Else" represents me more than it does my college years, but it’s a consistent, lifetime kind of love.

'Every grocery store receipt'

I wear the same three yellow-gold rings almost every day. 

The first, which is decorated with a blue topaz stone, is my great-grandma Alice’s high-school class ring from 1918. A few weeks ago, it slipped off my finger into a crack along the sidewalk outside my apartment. I lost it for only half an hour, but my tears came around minute eight.

The second belonged to my Mimi, Beverly Thomason. She was my mom's mom, and I never met her. It has an interesting look, carrying a band of garnets and a fan that spans half the length of my pinky.

The third is my most recent acquisition — my mom's original wedding band. She switched the diamond originally embedded in its center to my birthstone, aquamarine, after I was born.

These pieces are all connected by one invisible, gentle thread — they were given to me by my mom, a woman who loves all things beautiful and sees the possibility for splendor in every place, person and item.

My next song is "marjorie" by Taylor Swift, who my mom and I saw in concert together on my 20th birthday. Without a doubt, my love for my mom stems from her love for my Mimi and so on. "marjorie," Swift’s ode to her late grandmother, also reminds me of all the women in my family who came before me, who raised one another to create a path for me to not only exist, but to be right here in this moment, and the next and the next.

This snow globe holds all my rings in grandeur. When I shake it, they spin around but never clank against the glass or the edges. Instead, they lift and fall. Gracefully.

As Swift does with "marjorie," I continue to carry the memories of the women of my family with my rings.

I spin my blue-topaz ring when I’m nervous. I kiss my Mimi’s ring when I remember the powerful unconditionality of a mother’s love. I watch my aquamarine ring glint in the sunlight and reflect on the years of history it represents.

I settle in the knowledge that a 20-something, years from now, might do the same thing in memoriam of me. With all the rings I haven’t received yet.

'All the world that you see'

College is defined by rapid change. First, there’s the nonstop moving — from your childhood home to your dorm, to back home, to the dorm, to back home again, to an apartment. The 'pack, unpack, repack, purge, shop' cycle perpetuates.

There’s also a shift in relationships. I call my mom most days. I rarely see my dogs. I miss the way I was so close to friends in high school and saw them every day. What do I do with myself when love transforms and when friends are categorized by the different times they dominated my life?

It’s dizzying, really. A snowstorm, an unrelenting whirlwind of life happening too fast.

Whenever I feel like that, that’s when I pop out "Alive" by Empire of the Sun, a song that will always make me think of college.

I get caught in spirals, and this snow globe is the center of gravity that stills me. Amid all the horrible weather within me, there’s this tether, reminding me that, yes, college is a lot, but within that mess, there’s a great deal of good to be experienced.

There's dance parties to be thrown. Books to be read. Road trips to go on. Friends to be made. Mistakes to laugh at. Card games to be played. Wine to be drank. There’s so much good. Rather than getting caught up in the moving on, I feel this snowglobe lets me bask in my gratitude for these moments that matter. It pushes me to refuse to give any energy to anything that makes me feel any less than full-to-the-brim alive.

One day, I'll miss reorganizing a new room every few months, circling through the revolving door of odd jobs and scraping together change just to attend a concert, or the state fair or a bar.

I don’t want all this to pass me by just because I was so focused on getting to the next shiny thing. 

Instead, I'll hold this snow globe, and I'll shake it up and down in my living room with reckless abandon. It won’t break — it never does.

Edited by Camila Pedrosa, Savannah Dagupion and Madeline Nguyen.

This story is part of The Best of ASU, which was released on April 30, 2024. See the entire publication here.

Reach the reporter at and follow @abbygisela on X.

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