The Beginning of the End: The Last First Day

Ashley Wang ’23 and Kelly Lu ’23 (Arts Editor, 142nd Board) in Features | September 16, 2022

As I awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, I found myself transformed in my bed into some indescribable, alien creature. I tried to put a name to my new exoskeleton—the unfamiliar gains developed from single handedly carrying Lawrenceville’s campus culture on my back; the murky, caffeinated buzz in my head; and the sudden instinct to carry a JBL speaker across campus. 

Eureka. I had emerged from my summer cocoon of TV show-binges and college essay procrastination as an entirely new species. A senior

Just last night, I had been “normal”—at least in the eyes of the freshmen who parade the Bowl with unfounded confidence, the poor sophomores and juniors who line themselves up along the Circle and Crescent, and even the teachers who had side-eyed me for wearing a graphic tee to class.

Just last night, I was like everyone else: I sped-read my summer reading books 24 hours before classes, tried on five different dresses in front of my mirror to find the perfect floral fit, and repeatedly looked over class directories in hopes that a friend’s picture would suddenly appear amongst a sea of unfamiliar post-graduates.

I had gotten ready for bed, turned off my lights, and closed my eyes just like any other Lawrentian. 

Yet this very morning, the morning of my first day of school, I felt something different. I felt something only a senior would feel. Or, at least, what I think a senior would feel. Despite the monotony of it all—the regular tiredness that pooled in my dull eyes, the familiar sense of wanting to lunge back under the covers, and even the known dread of a Monday schedule––a sudden, foreign urge to say “last first” began to rise up in my throat. 

Last first day of school.

Last first brushing of my teeth before I go to my last first day of school.

Last first slipping on my shoes before I head off to the last first period of my last first day of school.

Finally, at my behest, I could attend all the classes I’d desperately begged to be switched into—lawyer roleplay, ukulele-building, radically loving. There’s nothing I’d rather do than discuss the impact of male gaze on baseball poetry. Virtu or virtue? To be or not to be? Can I somehow jam in the phrase “poststructuralist objective correlative dichotomy” into every essay I write? These were the questions I’d spent four years waiting to pursue.

As I exited my last first last period of the day, I strutted confidently towards V Form housing––a safe haven from the loud chattering of underformers, the only thing that could possibly excite me more than uncovering the aforementioned academic mysteries in Woods Memorial Hall or the Kirby Math and Science Center. As I walked past the Bowl, I felt the urge to smirk down upon the throngs of freshmen developing friend groups that would inevitably disintegrate at the end of the week—that is, until I was stopped in my tracks by a shocking greeting.

“HI FRESHIE!” Five small heads, not yet weathered by the trials and tribulations of ICAPS, swiveled towards me. My worst nightmare had occurred. I had been mistaken for the lowliest category of Lawrentian: a freshman

I took a deep breath and steeled my resolve: this would be my last first time being mistaken for a freshman. Such a transgression could never occur again under my watch. From this day on, I would assert my top-dawg dominance everywhere I walked, Starbucks cold brew and Statistics textbook in-hand. So I stared them right back in the eyes as I strutted my way towards the gilded halls of the Abbott Dining Room. 

That concludes my last first day of senior year––a culmination of the triumphs and defeats, the epic highs and lows of 12th grade. As I happily eat my dinner in my straight-backed, hardy oak chair, surrounded by other strange senior creatures like myself, I can’t help but hope. Hope that—oh, never mind. I’ll save that for another Harkness.