After 18: Jesse Dawson

A year in review

Livie and Jesse Dawson at Yosemite National Park. Courtesy Jesse Dawson.

Every year The MV Times asks four recent high school graduates to write about their experiences during their first year after graduation. Jesse Dawson graduated from MVRHS this spring, and is taking a gap year.

In the last article I wrote, I mentioned I got accepted at both UMass Amherst and UMass Lowell. I visited both colleges, and decided to go to Lowell based on its Sound Recording program. I stopped working at Morning Glory Farm around Christmas last year, and from then until March I practiced piano between two and five hours every day, to prepare for my audition. I auditioned with “Invention 4” by Bach and “Prelude 2” by Gershwin. I found out a couple of weeks ago that I made it into the music program. Starting in the fall I will be going to UMass Lowell, with a major in Sound Recording Technology. I have to take calculus and music theory classes next year, which is unfortunate because I know nothing about either of those things. I didn’t take precalculus or music theory in high school, so I have to teach myself both things over the next few months.

My girlfriend and I just got back from San Francisco. We went for a month. The first week we stayed with her dad’s friend Mark, and for the rest of the trip we stayed in Airbnbs. Mark took us to Yosemite, which was incredible. We also stayed at the Westpoint Inn at Mount Tamalpais. We stayed in a rustic cabin, and woke up to see the sun rise. After that we stayed in an Airbnb in Mill Valley. It was the only one that had a TV, so when we weren’t exploring the area we

watched some “Breaking Bad” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

The next Airbnb was in the city. The room had a piano, which was nice. We spent lots of time in Golden Gate Park. The next two were in Stinson Beach and Muir Beach. They were both similar to the Vineyard, so it wasn’t as much of a vacation, but the locations were beautiful, and we had a great time.

I met my biological dad while we were staying in the city. The first time we met up, we got Thai food, and talked for a couple of hours. He is a great conversationalist, and it was fun to meet him. He was in the city recording his 11th album. The second time we met, we got coffee. My girlfriend and I both really liked him. We had a similar taste in music. We didn’t get to see his studios, which is too bad, but it was still great to meet him. He is moving to L.A. soon. Hopefully I will have another chance to talk to him.

We saw three movies in theaters: “Isle of Dogs,” which was pretty good, “You Were Never Really Here,” which was OK, and the new “Avengers,” which was awesome. We also saw a symphony by the San Francisco Symphony, which performed two pieces by Debussy and two by Ravel. I don’t usually listen to classical music, but I love playing it. I know the “First Arabesque” and some of “Clair de Lune” by Debussy on the piano, and I plan on one day learning “Une Barque sur L’Océan” by Ravel. The symphony was amazing. It was impactful because I have never heard music so alive and authentic.

I am glad to be home. I have a drum set in my basement that I haven’t used a lot, so I am going to learn how to play drums in my free time from now on. I start working at the Tisbury Wharf after Memorial Day. The job sounds great, and I’m broke, so I’m looking forward to starting.

I had no idea what I was going to do with myself at the end of last year. Taking a gap year cleared all of my uncertainty. I have had a great year: I spent time with my girlfriend, I learned how to play piano, I recorded a ton of songs, and I went to San Francisco and met my biological dad. This has been a fantastic year, and I feel much more confident about my future.