As I walked out of my house at 3 am, dragging my suitcase across Broadway, heading to MSY for spring break, I felt a strange pit in my stomach. As my Uber passed the Kris Jenner peace sign poster (I know you all saw this at some point during Mardi), I felt extremely sad and nostalgic. At first, I couldn’t pinpoint where this sadness was coming from. I was on my way to an exciting vacation and returning in just a few days; why was I feeling down? Maybe it was the comedown from the many toxins in my body from Mardi Gras, or the early morning wakeup from my warm bed, or maybe a combination of both.
But then I realized the true reason for my emotions. I was feeling the pain of life’s passing moments. I had the harsh awakening that life is really just a series of looking forward to things and then those things quickly coming to an end. In the blink of an eye, my third Mardi Gras was now in the past. I think this is a common feeling for college students. We have so many exciting events on our schedule that go by as quickly as they come. Our fast-paced lifestyles can create an emotionally draining energy that can sometimes leave us with these sad, nostalgic feelings.
Mardi Gras is the perfect example of this phenomena. Us Tulane students look forward to this national holiday for months and months. We spend unnecessary amounts of money on glitter and Dolls Kill two piece sets, prepare for what feels like a marathon with endless snacks and drinks from Walmart, and post a countdown Instagram story each week as it approaches. Then, all of the sudden, it’s 5 am on Tequila Sunrise and we’re half asleep, patiently waiting the comfort of a shower and a nap. When 6 am hits, there is definitely a huge sense of relief. But along with the happiness of not having to take another shot comes the overwhelming sadness of the five-day celebration coming to an end. It is in that moment we realize that we just made some of the most incredible memories with our closest friends in our beloved college city. All of those memories are now just that: memories, moments of the past. As I get older and older, realizing I only have one more Mardi Gras left, these moments are becoming even more fleeting and precious in my heart. I am learning to understand that life moves quickly, and with this movement comes change. I’m not always going to be a college student putting hair extensions in my hair and gems on my face for five straight days. Soon I am going to be a real adult, in the real world, with these special times long behind me.
Even larger than the end of Mardi Gras is the end of the college experience as a whole. It breaks my heart every day that I can’t be in college forever—don’t we all wish we could? As I approach my senior year, I am realizing just how limited this period of time is. When you are a freshman, graduation seems like a lifetime away, but today, it feels way too close for comfort. These feelings of nostalgia are inevitable and come when you least expect them, but these emotions must always bring us back to gratitude. Be thankful for the experiences that are hard to say goodbye to. Be grateful for the present, the past and the future. Never take these special times for granted and enjoy every second. And for now, the countdown until next year’s Mardi begins!
COVER PHOTO: Lily Heller