Teen Talk: Life is a series of beginnings and endings

Matthew Frederick

It seems to me that summer has arrived, and somewhat ahead of schedule this year. I’m no meteorologist, of course, so don’t hold me to my word if it’s incorrect. Either way, the warm weather and the sunny days have recently coincided with a few different milestones in my life.

First and foremost, this Saturday’s column will be my final occasion in print in The Daily Star weekend edition. I have enjoyed my time over the last few years working for The Daily Star as a Teen Talk columnist. I came to write this column back in my freshman year of high school when an English teacher (who still remains dear to my heart) brought my attention to an article requesting submissions from potential new writers. The rest, in all its cliché glory, is history. It’s a pleasant experience for me to think back to my freshman year of high school — particularly so at the present moment, because I have just completed my freshman year of college. Though I wouldn’t describe it as “fun” — comparing my past and present selves — it’s certainly entertaining. I certainly don’t think the person I was back then would have predicted becoming the person I am today.

Another one of my milestones is the move I will be making into my own apartment in one week’s time from writing this column. By the time you read this, I will be living in my new home in New Paltz, where I am a student during the academic year. Moving has become a somewhat regular process for me over the last year. Last summer, my family moved to the Catskills; a week later, I moved into my college dorm; at the end of November, I moved back home for the spring semester; and now we’ve come full circle as I prepare to move again.

Naturally, I am very excited to be returning to New Paltz. I’ll be living with two of my friends from last fall, and many others will also be moving into their own apartments around the same time. In many ways, 2020 was a year that forced us to come to terms with isolation. Last fall, I had a taste of the social life that I had been missing for months. And then again, this spring, I had to readjust to a quiet home life.

I’ve always heard it repeated to me over the years that life is just a series of beginnings and endings. And while a younger version of myself may have ignored this tenet, my present-day self sees just how much it rings true in my everyday life. It’s easy to dismiss aphorisms because they are so vague and universal — as if they apply to you, but only in some distant future. Nowadays, the aphorisms have been catching up with me. More than anything else, the past year has certainly embodied the cycle of beginnings and endings — high school, college, pandemics, you name it. “Time flies when you’re having fun,” they say. In my opinion, They could have stopped at “Time flies.” It’s yet another universal truth that seemed distant and irrelevant growing up, but which now dogs me on a day-to-day basis. It’s pretty comical to me that I had so much spare time growing up and found myself getting bored so often; these days, I would pay a lot of money to have the luxury of being bored.

The thing is, no one really tells you when you start growing up. It just starts happening over time until you realize — sometimes with horror, sometimes with delight — that it’s already happening, and you have no way to stop it. I never used to be the type to worry about the future too much, but these days I’m lucky if I can focus on the present; and the past is a luxury only for quiet moments, and those are few and far between.

I am 19 years old, so my time as a teen is dwindling rapidly. It’s only appropriate, then, that I leave the talking to my fellow columnists. I wish them all the best with their future columns in The Daily Star and their other endeavors. In particular, I would like to give a word of acknowledgement to Bob Cairns, who I have worked with over these past few years at The Daily Star, and my gratitude for providing me this wonderful opportunity. And to my readers, I extend my highest gratitude for the kind words I have received since I started writing this column, and for the honor of having my words printed for your readership.

Matthew Frederick is a graduate of Oneonta High School and sophomore at SUNY New Paltz. He can be reached at mfrederick.teentalk@gmail.com.

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