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How I learned to stop worrying and love the hipster

If there’s one thing I have learned at Belmont over the past four years, it’s to marvel and shrug at the hipster. They’re all over the place. I’ve been involved in countless conversations about what exactly a hipster is and what differentiates one from an indie kid or a scene kid. I’ve sat in the back of the car and tried to explain them to my folks, even pointing one out in the Kroger by my house last spring. (He must have gotten lost; there are few hipsters in Nolensville, TN).

I said it was irony, the brand of cigarettes, the haircut, the musical preferences, the shoes. To a point I’m not sure if it matters if we ever figure them out.

Mostly it’s an entertaining discussion. What is a hipster? Can one have hipster tendencies? Say, really love obscure little bands but dress like a prep most of the time? If I wear a light blue polo, skinny jeans and Chucks, will I just look confused? Or if I do it on purpose am I circling back around on hipsterdom?

My dad says the way we use “hipster” now isn’t the same as when he was younger. It had more to do with jazz and attitude, albeit a different type of attitude.  About a year ago, “Paste” magazine said “indie” was dead. I suppose that’s related somehow.

Recently, graduation and the prospect of leaving Belmont and Nashville have shifted my perspective on both the school and the city. I can remember when, as a freshman, I made that first journey over to Bongo accompanied only by my Spanish homework. I didn’t know where to wait for my coffee and I had never been more aware of my lack of tattoos and piercings.

A couple of weeks ago on that one Saturday that it was warm and livable outside, I walked over to Bongo, like I do with some frequency. I still don’t know exactly where to stand but I care far less. I people watch. There was a guy in line in front of me in a navy pea coat and old-looking tan leather shoes. He had a mustache that would have made some 19th-century Austrian prince giddy all over. Then there were the oversized, thick-rimmed glasses. That was when it hit me, like a bucket of cold water, or better yet, an extra and unwanted shot of espresso to my Mochahontas. What do I do when I leave Belmont and go somewhere where there aren’t any hipsters? I mean, for all their eccentricities, hipsters for me are known entities. The rest of the world does not say to itself “the deeper the V-neck the better.” I will have to learn the ways and customs of some other segment of my generation.

I think we’re living in something like the Matrix  –  less sinister, more plaid and  you really have to go out of your way to see we’re doing something different here. My high school was prep-tastic. At Belmont, no one bats an eye when someone lugs around an instrument case. I still remember the specific kids who played guitar. There was that one guy in my math class with his bony fingers poking out from his hobo gloves, flying up and down the fret board. It was different. I think somewhere along the line after coming to Belmont, I stopped saying to myself, “There’s seven people packed into a gazebo harmonizing, well that’s unusual,” and just accepted it as life.

In any case, I don’t know what’s out there, besides jeans that fit, and I don’t know what to do about people who go to Great Clips to get their hair cut, but I think I might miss it here with the hipsters.

Erin Carson, Vision editor, is a senior journalism major in the Honors Program.

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