A Toast to the New Year (And Off to New York City!)

In the Grand America Hotel Lobby.
At the Grand America Hotel during our staycation.

I don’t do the whole New Years thing. I mean, yes, I write resolutions and I like a good party to celebrate the last night of the year, but I don’t really do the whole reflection-on-the-past-year thing until February. February is my birthday month, when I really look back on the previous year and the soon-to-be-previous age, when I think about what I’ve done, what I’ve learned, what I’ve loved and what I’ve lost.

It makes January a sort of buffer month; 31 days of burying the old year and preparing for the new one. Besides, doesn’t January feel like a buffer month of boringness anyway?

Kelli Nakagama at the Silvester Ball at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria.
Ringing in the New Year at the Silvester Ball at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna.

So now, here in the month of my birthday, with the day quickly approaching, I’ll take a look back at last year.

Last year, 2014, was a year for the books. One where I ventured to Europe for the first time and then, miraculously, surged a second time by myself. I started the year in Washington, D.C. and finished in Vienna, Austria, and jumped to nine other cities in between—everywhere from Santa Barbara to New York—hitting my most favorite a total of three times.

Rue des Petits-Champs, Paris, in the sunshine and rain.
Walking down Rue des Petits-Champs on the final night of our trip.

My passion for opera became a full-fledged love; seeing the incredible Rusalka in New York City in February that inspired me to chase it to Prague in December, seeing the legendary Placido Domingo in L.A., one at the awe-inspiring opera house in Barcelona, then at the stunning opera house in Paris, followed by a return to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and then the most incredible mind-blowing operas in Vienna.

Barcelona's opera house, the Gran Teatre del Liceu.
Barcelona’s opera house, the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

Oh, I made weekend stops in Santa Barbara, Denver and Las Vegas, too.

It was also the year where my childhood dream of being a magazine writer materialized. I wrote for Downtown Alliance (twice!) to share my love of downtown Salt Lake City, poured my heart into an opera article for Fibonacci Arts and wrote about healthy appetizers (of all things!) in Devour Magazine. I joined the team at TheUtahReview.com to write about everything from opera to the best bars in Salt Lake City and even took over the Grand America’s Instagram for a staycation.

In the Grand America Hotel Lobby.
At the Grand America Hotel during our staycation.

Oh, what a year.

Oh how the millions of memories and moments of laughter make my heart soar. And now, for 2015—for the last year of my 20s—the possibilities seem even more endless. I’ve promised myself to follow my heart and my passions to their full extent. To not hold back from living life and, above all, to take a chance.

The Flat Iron Building in the snow in New York City.
The Flat Iron Building in the snow.

It’s no surprise I’ll be spending my birthday in New York City. Like last year, and the years I turned 17, 20, and 24.

As I head to my favorite city yet again, I raise a toast to the new year of 2015 and all its challenges yet to be met and all the memories yet to be made. Thank you for taking this journey with me.


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