May 20, 2013

FORRER | Life After Last Call

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Lately, my friends have stood around street corners and the dimly-lit underbelly of Rulloff’s prosthelytizing, reminding me that the end is nigh. As if this is the end of the Mayan calendar, and beyond May 26, there may be no existence — just the nothingness of the real world and the meaninglessness of workplace interactions around a watercooler. I don’t see it that way.

Not much changed from Dec. 21 to Dec. 22 last year, and I am certain that the sun will rise again on May 27. A new crop of tuition-paying freshmen will rise up to fill the hole that the class of 2013 is leaving on Cornell’s balance sheet, and a new set of editors will take the reigns of this 132-year-old institution to keep reporting the news in one way or another. We will wake up the morning after graduation with the same friends, even if they aren’t in the rooms right next to us.

While I am just as nervous and sad about the end of college as these prothelitizers, I refuse to accept the finality that they have assigned to this date. They say the best four years of our lives are over, but such a perspective looks at those four years as an isolated block, separated in space, with no relation to the rest of our lives. Though we are approaching last call and are about to get kicked out of this establishment, we will still feel the lingering effects; the buzz doesn’t just go away.

I know that my life has changed for the better as a result of the time that I have spent at Cornell. I have become a more confident person thanks to the friends that I have made here and the time that I have spent as an editor at Ithaca’s first morning newspaper, and I am confident that the friendships I have made here will last far longer than four years.

At a trip to Skaneateles last week, I saw two people who hadn’t seen each other since their high school graduation more than 50 years ago perusing their yearbook on a bench by the lake. Judging by the way that they laughed and chatted amicably, one might have assumed they had seen each other only days before.

“What a great looking group of people,” they said as they snapped a photo of us. One day, perhaps, we will look back at this photo in the company of old friends on a park bench somewhere.

While 50 years is a lot longer than I can imagine going without seeing my best friends, I know that we share a special bond formed here that will allow us to pick right back up where we left off, no matter how much time passes. Especially today, there is no excuse for losing touch. Where it was once possible for someone to change addresses or home phone numbers and never be reachable, we have technology that will keep us connected.

Even though this is not the end, I will still miss a lot about this place. I will miss the spontaneity that comes as a result of being constantly surrounded by friends and the ease with which it is possible to throw together some last-minute, spur-of the-moment activity like, say, an elaborate murder mystery potluck.

I have this spontaneity to thank for some incredible experiences here. I met my first friend at Cornell when he sat next to me at a Grapes of Wrath book discussion at the beginning of freshman year. Midway through the discussion, we turned to one another and saw in each other’s faces the same look of disinterest and boredom. We got up in the middle of the discussion and explored campus instead, searching for an elusive rock garden. A short time later, lost on a bus somewhere around East Hill Plaza, we stumbled into two other future friends and roommates.

Even though this isn’t the end, I will dearly miss living in a house with eight of my best friends, and I doubt I will get another opportunity like it. Even though I found a door stuffed underneath my bed sheet one night when I left my room unlocked, and another friend stole one of each of my pairs of shoes, leaving me with only mismatched shoes for a day, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I am going to miss hearing that familiar “Hel-LO-o” echoing through my house, announcing that one of the Growler Boys is back home.

I was lucky enough to have found multiple homes at Cornell, one on Catherine Street, the other at 139 W. State at The Sun’s offices. I tried my best to shape this institution and align it with the changing times in the journalism industry, but it was really The Sun that was shaping me the whole time. I learned how to deal with tough issues, even if I didn’t always do so in the most graceful way. I stumbled. I threw papers to the ground in frustration. And I questioned myself constantly. But no college class or assignment could have taught me more about journalism, leadership and life than The Sun did.

While I’ve already forgotten most of what I learned in the economics class I took last semester, I won’t soon forget the lessons I learned from The Sun and from the incredible people with whom I spent the last four years. While my time at Cornell may be over, the things I’ve learned and the memories I have made will last a great deal longer.

Original Author: Juan Forrer