What’s in a But-Sentence? Can you get the meaning of a text by taking all the sentences starting with “but”? I tried it with four letters written by students moving back with their parents after finishing college. The students write about their feelings of desperation and failure about not finding a job and losing their independence. The original letters appeared in the New York Times on July 16.
Elevated by the Train
Here I am.
It changed the way I saw the world.
I know now I’ll stay close to the elevated train, somehow.
Déjà Vu in My Parents’ Kitchen
Never finish the bottle.
Eagerly take any that’s offered.
I’m still hopeful.
Still they assumed that they would live with their parents until marriage.
I’ll still be happy to give up my seat at my parents’ kitchen table.
Spoiled, and Sick of It
Each day, without fail, I freeze at the room’s threshold, paralyzed by guilt.
Now that I’m home from college, I frequently find myself leaving a mess and then agonizing about it.
The food comes at a cost.
Only if the radiation from my cellphone doesn’t kill me first — and I respond, in perfectly passive-aggressive fashion, by forgoing all responsibility.
Life in the Pleasure Palace
After a few wonderful weeks of eating an astonishing range of noodles and praying to local deities for a studio apartment in the Village, I knew it was time to face my fears: I can’t stay in this pleasure palace forever.
Think that home is like a parachute — it doesn’t stop the fall; it just stops it from killing you.
Which I now understand is the point of the whole song: “But oh that magic feeling, nowhere to go.”