Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

From a year full of lasts to a year full of firsts

<r’s Eve is a tricky, emotional holiday. It is a day full of bittersweet lasts—the last sunset of the year, the last candy bar—but as soon as the clock strikes midnight it is time to start celebrating firsts—the first kiss, the first trip to the gym. Like New Year’s Eve, my 2018 was filled with both “lasts” and “firsts.”

I spent the first part of 2018 as a high school senior celebrating “lasts.” The last concert at D.C.’s 9:30 Club, the last mad dash to buy lunch off campus and return to class on time, the final IB exam. One of my most bitter-sweet “lasts” was my final performance with my ballet studio where I had been dancing for fourteen years. We performed my all-time favorite ballet, Swan Lake, and I danced the principal role of Odette. Swan Lake was also the first ballet I attended at the Kennedy Center when I was five, and so it was only fitting that it should be my final performance. Thirteen years after seeing that performance of Swan Lake which made me fall in love with ballet, the Kennedy Center’s 2017-2018 ballet season ended, and with it my tradition of attending outstanding performances by world-renowned ballet companies such as the Mariinsky and Royal Ballet. I would soon be living on a college student budget in rural Minnesota and opportunities to attend ballet performances would be few and far between.

In further appreciation for the arts, I also took my last trips to D.C. to visit some of my favorite exhibitions. I went to a captivating exhibit at the Renwick Gallery featuring creative installations from Burning Man like huge 3D shapes covered with geometric patterns that cast colorful, intricate shadows of on the floors and ceiling. On a visit to the National Portrait Gallery I saw Michelle and Barack Obama’s official portraits and marveled at the painters’ ability to capture both the power and gentleness of the duo. These inspiring, impressive (and free) art exhibits were a large part of what I would miss the most about living in the D.C area.

Of course, 2018 was also a time for celebrating new beginnings and “firsts,” including learning to rollerblade and my first time singing karaoke. Many firsts came when traveling, such as going on my first cruise on a family trip to the Galapagos where I had numerous new experiences such as swimming with sharks, seeing a Blue-Footed Booby and walking on a red-sand beach. Later in the year, after graduating from high school, I backpacked through Europe with my two best friends where I rode my first upside down roller coaster, slept in my first youth hostel, and stood in my first four-hour long line waiting to enter the Vatican.

Unfortunately, some firsts were not as uplifting as traveling, such as participating in my high school’s walk-out after the Parkland tragedy. Traveling downtown to protest in front of the U.S. Capitol with my peers gave me a new sense of solidarity with my generation that was empowering yet heartbreaking given the conditions that led to this unity.

2018 also saw quite a momentous first as I graduated from high school and started my life at Carleton, full of new experiences. I went to my first convo, survived a 1A, joined the newspaper, made new friends, learned how to identify limestone, and realized that Sayles smoothies are never worth the money or calories.

Finally, New Year’s Eve arrived once more, and as I rang in 2019 I felt the usual conflicting emotions of sadness and reflective pensiveness at the year’s ending combined with excitement and anticipation at the start of 2019. Although in 2018 I had some difficult “lasts” saying goodbye to friends, family, and my hometown, I am most thankful for my “firsts” as I arrived at Carleton and started a new chapter in my life that I am eager to continue in the new year.

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