May 3, 2007

You’ll Move Mountains

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At seventeen, the last thing I wanted to do was go to college. High school had turned out to be even more stifling than any teen movie could possibly prepare me for, making me disillusioned with academia altogether. I spent my senior year cutting class with my friends, calling the school office with voices disguised as each other’s parents, driving ten miles into Philadelphia to wander the streets all afternoon. Yes, Mom and Dad, that’s where all of those unidentified EZ-Pass charges came from, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Four years later, I still have no idea how I got here. Being accepted “Early Decision” was a relief for everyone concerned about my future: I could only tolerate two or three college visits that fall, and getting me to write my admissions essays was like pulling teeth. I was the worst kind of pissy, snot-nosed, rebellious teenager, the kind who plans to run away to New York City and somehow land that impossible dream job — which is why falling into Uncle Ezra’s lap was like a cultural slap in the face. But this was one of those John Mellencamp, “hurt so good” slaps. In summer of 2003 I moved into Risley, my new dorm-cum-château, and simply let Cornell wash over me. I may not have completed those “161 Things to do at Cornell before You Graduate,” but I have slept in the gorges, sledded down the slope on dining-hall trays and conducted a drunken conversation with the statue of Andrew D. White on the Arts Quad. I have painted my face and danced around a burning dragon, made out in the Olin stacks, stalked the rooms of the gun factory and smoked hookah on the roof of my old apartment. I have thrown some of the best parties that this town has ever seen. I have done some really stupid things with my hair.
So here I am at my very last column, and for all of my complaints about the weather and the mediocre nightlife and those annoying people who pass out quarter-cards on Ho Plaza, I am terrified of leaving. I’ve been trying to come up with a relevant anecdote that encompasses all of my feelings about college, but each experience has contributed its own unique piece to the whole damn puzzle. I could spend my last three-hundred words giving advice to underclassmen, but honestly, college is what you make of it. Rather, I’d prefer to end my column in as corny and typical a way as possible: by thanking those who have truly shaped these past four years.
First, thank you to all of my professors, especially those who have guided me towards a possible future in criminal law. Although I am still running away to New York City, it seems less likely than before that I will be living in a cardboard box.
To everyone who has ever helped with, supported, or inspired my column — especially that girl who drunkenly shouted “I love your column!” to me in Collegetown last Friday night — I cannot thank you enough. My petty dreams of a career in journalism have been sated, with only minimal damage to my reputation.
To my friends, new and old, each of whom has appeared between the lines of these pieces. We have prowled the streets of Ithaca and made it our own; we have created a book’s worth of stories, most of which are too inappropriate to tell our future children. This pertains especially to my housemates, because for the tremendous effort we make to appear cool and disaffected, we still managed to watch all seven seasons of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” last semester.
To my sister, whom I never really understood until we drank too much wine together in Italy last summer. We’re much more alike than either of us will admit, and I can’t wait to give you a glimpse of Cornell life on Slope Day.
To my mother, the successful writer, cancer survivor and future wine connoisseur. Isn’t it strange that we didn’t truly become friends until I had moved two-hundred-and-fifty miles from home? Because you have consistently encouraged me to exercise the right side of my brain, this column owes itself to you more than anyone else.
Finally, I want to thank my father. You have always been a role model of hard work, strength, perseverance and musical taste. Yes, I finally admit that your playing Pink Floyd for me when I was young is what sent me on the long and winding musical journey that has been explored in this column. More importantly, however it is that I came to be at Cornell, it was undeniably because of you. I can’t believe that we’ve finally made it.