October 4, 2011

Home Sweet Home

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It was May 6, 2011. Sloooope Daaaay! I ordered a pinnie, downloaded the entire Nelly discography, dug out my plastic wayfarers. Ready to rage! Oh, but wait. It was 8 p.m. at night. And I was actually in Italy.

I was determined to celebrate Slope Day in as traditional a manner as possible. I really did download an unnecessary amount of Nelly and there was talk amongst the other Cornell kids in my program to make “Foreign Country Grammar” T-shirts. We decided to start with the drinking part (at least I was legal in Europe).

When we were out, we stumbled upon this strange festival. There were stands lining the piazza, each one manned by a different student group from the university. Each group looked like a cult, with colored capes emblazoned with a specific crest, each stand having a particular theme. They were all rowdy and serving beer, letting the pretty girls come behind the counter and flirt their way into free drinks. I couldn’t have recreated the Greek System any better myself. To top it off, a live band was playing and there was even a beach ball being tossed around the crowd! I was in homesick heaven.

I may have been trading in Libe Slope for Piazza Maggiore, Nelly for an Italian cover band, mimosas for Morettis and neon spandex for leather, but I managed to find a little bit of Cornell Slope Day smack dab in the middle of Bologna, Italy. Just when I was missing home the most, it kind of created itself.

I spent an entire semester explaining to Italians, state school kids and whoever else would listen how great Cornell was. We go on wine tours and walk by waterfalls to get to class and have snowball fights on top of the libraries! One time, I even saw a Quidditch game on the Arts Quad! I wasn’t just home-sick, I was Cornell-sick. Now that I’m here, I’m not sure there’s much of a difference.

When I finally got back to school, every conversation went like this: “Oh, you were abroad?” “Yeah, it was awesome, but it’s good to be home.”

Home. I’m not really sure exactly what I meant. Good to be in one place for a while? Good to be with my family? Good to be in America? Good to be here, with you, right now?

Home means something different to everyone. Personally, one thing that makes me feel at home is a fully stocked fridge. There is nothing like being able to make any kind of sandwich you want without wondering how late Jason’s is open. Home is disposable camera prints and fluffy slippers. For you, it might be having your sick speaker system set up. Or snuggling with your beloved body pillow. Or just being able to fart anyyyytime you want. Home is your comfort zone, the chicken noodle soup for your weary student soul.

There are layers and layers of home for all of us. My bed. My room. My house. My neighborhood. My school. My state. My country. You can change homes and create homes and you can have more than one home at the same time. As many people say, home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling. The things that make me feel at home are an amalgamation of memories — my favorite stuffed animal, the jazz music my dad listens to, Cornell Hockey ticket stubs, the postcards I collected abroad. Because as we are always changing and evolving, so are our homes. The more memories we create, the more homes we’ll have.

In general, the sense of temporariness that we have as college students inhibits our ability to make somewhere a home. The fact that we never really live anywhere for more than a year warns us not to get too cozy, to remember that we’re going to have to carry all those boxes back down those four flights of stairs in a few short months.

But as much as we can’t wait for that prelim Thursday to be over so we can GTFO, this is home, too. We’ve met people and made memories here that will always be attached to this place. CTB on a sunny afternoon. The 2 a.m. walk from Olin to Uris. Hot spiced cider at Applefest. The house I live in has no toilet paper and the fridge is full of cheap white wine, but this house is home because I stay up all night drinking that shitty wine with my best friends. Despite the ephemeral quality of college life, I think we all get a funny feeling driving those last 31.3 miles from Whitney Point to Ithaca.

As Cornell students, we’ll forever have the color of the leaves and the shortcuts through the woods and the way the city looks from the top of the Slope. We’ll carry that around with us as we get older like little reminders of this home we’ve created in the middle of nowhere. Know that as you’re walking haphazardly through life, no matter what year it is or country you’re in, there will always be a chance that you’ll stumble upon a little bit of Cornell, a little bit of home.

Original Author: Rebecca Lee