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What Bo Burnham’s “Inside” Made Me Realize About Life In The Bay Area

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Written By: Aaron T. Mellieon

Bo Burnham’s “Inside” was an existential masterpiece that perfectly illustrated the shared pains of the millennial experience. His special reflected what many of our generation, and people in general were feeling during the pandemic. 

Towards the end of the special, Bo starts to lose his mind, trapped in this room that seems so easily escapable, yet is impossible to overcome. He begins to play this song, “That Funny Feeling”, and he starts rambling about all sorts of things: carpool karaoke, discounts at clothing stores, childhood. This is all brought up against the backdrop of this “funny feeling.” And at first, you think you know what he’s talking about or you’re just inactively watching waiting to laugh again. I thought I knew what he was talking about. Then I realized, you didn’t.  This feeling isn’t something you’re really meant to pinpoint. It messes with you, almost paralyzing. Is it anxiety? Fear? Depression? Existentialism? It’s all of it and none of it at the same time. It’s just a feeling. As funny or unfunny as it may be. 

I want to know what that feeling is, and why it exists.

I think this feeling existed long before COVID-19, but it was the virus that really opened people up to it. This underlying, uncomfortable feeling, like it’s on the tip of your tongue and yet you still don’t know what it is. It’s an ache, or an itch, or a whatever you want to call it. And sure, you could explain it away in any thirty plus minute YouTube video, but that doesn’t sit right with me. I want to know what that feeling is, and why it exists.

Living in the Bay Area can help answer that question. There’s this unspoken will to stay here, despite the odds of having a lower quality of life, and to me, it’s a very similar feeling as to what Bo depicts in the song, the whole special really.

It’s the same feeling that I felt when given the chance to leave the Bay and live abroad, to explore the world without repercussions, an opportunity that I’m not sure I’ll ever get again. And yet, I didn’t take it. That urge, that feeling, to stay here, it overtook me. Which was weird, because my whole life I’ve been in this sort of active denial, where I love the Bay and most of its inhabitants, but then some douchebag who lives in a million dollar condo in gentrified San Francisco posts a TikTok video and I want to gouge my eyes out and burn everything to the ground. But even despite that anger I feel towards those who do not respect the culture that was made here or the people who live here, I chose to stay. Not because I don’t want to travel, and not because I think living in the Bay is even the right choice for myself, but because of that feeling. It’s the same feeling I get whenever I visit San Francisco, my place of birth, and I just marvel at the buildings. These concrete and glass monoliths that any other day I’d shit on, but when I see it in person, I feel home.

I don’t even like San Francisco most of the time, the amount of bullshit that comes out of the City typically reduces any of the positive feelings I have towards it, but something about seeing those buildings, those roads, it changes me. It makes me feel like a little kid again, before I understood that my family was priced out of our home and before I understood just how little control I truly have in the grand scheme of things. Instead of  focusing any of that, I can just be amazed at what I’m looking at. I can stand there with my jaw on the floor like any tourist, even if it’s the same corporate headquarters I’ve been looking at since I was a little kid. I can still feel something for San Francisco, for the Bay; I can still feel some comfort, like a warm hug from a friend you haven’t seen in years. And that fleeting feeling, that funny feeling, in my eyes, is what makes the Bay so great. It can pull out the deepest of emotions, just to whisk it away ever so violently. And all you can do is just sit, and marvel at it.

Some may call it nostalgia, but it’s more…

It’s just that funny feeling.

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