January 16, 2013

Home is for Hibernation

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Bean salad, red velvet cupcakes and raviolis filled my kitchen table, along with other treats. It was an unusual meal; they always are. A few days into the new year, I decided to have a group of high school friends over for a potluck. During my senior year (of high school), I began these get-togethers so that we could spend more time together before heading to college. I hosted one for each break — before the start of the school year in August, another during Thanksgiving and at least one more during spring semester.

For our first two years of college, the meetings were routine. But as the years went on, things only grew more complicated. We went abroad, had internships, were away for summers. We were busy, we were growing up and it was weird. Spending time with old friends was wonderful. It’s strange that four years ago, we spent hours on end together daily and now we hardly know of the everyday happenings in each other’s lives. But when we’re all together, somehow, it works. These people still remember which house is mine, they recognize my parents — they know me.

This winter break, I spent one month at home — more time than I’ve spent in New Jersey since this same recess sophomore year. In earlier years, it seemed to be among my favorite pastimes to whine incessantly about the suffocation of being in my childhood bedroom, under the same rules that applied when I was 12. I was itching to get out — to the city, to friends, to Ithaca, to anywhere else.

But this time was different. When my dad picked me up from Ithaca this December, I was fried. Sleep deprived for weeks, I woke only an hour before his arrival. Hastily, I threw whatever I could into duffel bags, scurrying to finish errands and my weekly chore (to my roommates: I did clean the bathroom, thank you very much). Soon enough, my dad had scooped me up, packed the car and began the journey home. Incoherently, I told him what I could about the semester. It was crazy, this is weird, no I haven’t applied to jobs. He tried to share some of the perks of the g-word. My dad, an ever-logical engineer that always instilled a great deal of discipline and wondered about my questionable practicality, reminded me that next year offered inumerable possibilities. “You can start to make a life for yourself.” This attempt was better than our last conversation over Thanksgiving, where he found me in bed, vegetating only minutes after walking through the door.

“These are the best years of your life. And they’re over! Hahaha.” He chuckled as I left the room, to weep silently in my pre-grad stupor.

So, what is all this? Being home for the last month has been sort of wonderful. I went on no fancy vacation abroad, nor did I venture off into the great American countryside with Kerouac on my mind. I didn’t even do the art project I’d hoped to finish. I did clean out my room, as promised to y’all in a December column. I watched nearly every episode of The West Wing. I had a few infinite meals at the Pilgrim Diner. I caught up with my cousins and fought with my mother. Last week, I got sick and didn’t get out of my pajamas for a week. Nothing was exceptionally exciting, but was all kind of great. Sometimes, it seems, average is good.

Pressing pause has given me a moment to breathe, or more importantly sleep (also: I guess Professor Maas was right about one thing — nine hours a night is divine). This week, my “wherever the wind may blow” schedule is getting old. I am re-charged and I’m excited to return to the hill. And perhaps even ready to own the idea that in six months, I have no plans. It’s been fun to be a child under my parents’ roof once more, giving me a moment of clarity and perspective.

I realize that in just a few months, scarily, my friends and acquaintances from Cornell will be my “college friends” — a thing of the past, not present. It will surely be interesting to see who keeps in touch, who remembers birthdays and what grab bag group of fellow alums will end up in the same city. But for now, let’s enjoy it — every moment of it. Happy 2013, everyone.

Katerina Athanasiou is a senior in the College of Art, Architecture, and Planning. She may be reacched at [email protected]. Kat’s Cradle runs alternate Thursdays this semester.

Original Author: Katerina Athanasiou