My First Fascinating Friday
As embarrassed as I am to admit it, this past First Friday was the first one I ever attended in my career as a Lehigh student. I transferred to Lehigh after a disappointing freshman year at NYU and while this may sound surprising, my decision was based on one simple factor- I wanted to be a part of a genuine community. Yes, I have found plenty of meaningful connections with other students over the past two years, but experiencing college to the fullest requires a leap of faith past the campus border. After too many wasted Fridays on the hill, I decided to use this summer to delve into the vivacious and diverse Southside community, and hopefully find myself in the process.
Unsure of exactly where to go and what to do, my First Friday began with some degree of hesitation. I didn’t recognize many faces or know many names, but my uncertainties immediately faded thanks to the comforting sense that I was among friends; despite stepping out solo, there is no such thing as alone on a First Friday. People of every age, race, and creed, were united by smiling faces and the alliance in the air and I felt proud and motivated by being in their company. These are the people who embrace and inspire the Southside… their passion and spirits are the very soul of the Bethlehem body.
As I walked through the Banana Factory, I was struck by the power of witnessing the magical moment that occurs when someone discovers a piece of art that strikes their soul. I saw strangers connect over paintings, and lovers dispute the meaning of photographs. I watched stereotypes crumble and taboos dissolve as people learned the truth about Lehigh Professor Berrisford Boothe’s triumphant story. Through expression- honest, deep, and blatant, expression- art breaks down barriers and brings people together.
Take Tamara for example. On Friday, she performed at Tallarico’s and I had the pleasure of listening to her lovely voice and guitar skills while enjoying one of Brian’s heavenly coconut-chocolate treats. Singing with Tamara was an older man who proudly explained that Tamara was not only his protégé, but his daughter. Shortly after, two girls walked in with a poster reading, “Tamara’s Got Talent,” and Tamara’s eyes lit up as if she was center stage before an audience of thousands. It then struck me that while I first strolled into Tallarico’s with the intention of satisfying my sweet tooth, I had actually experienced so much more. In witnessing this rewarding moment between a father and his daughter, and a musician and her triumph, I had the chance to share in their joy because of the power of music, and the transcendence of art. It is this capacity for connections that makes First Fridays so extraordinary.
Whether it’s discovering a work of art that sparks deep inward reflection, or a conversation about skate boarding with Andy at Homebase, First Friday experiences open doors and build bonds that will enhance your life and shape your future.