April 27, 2014

BHOWMICK | The Home Stretch

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Everything measured in time ends. This, however, is difficult to realize in college, where weeks blend into each other and weekends can only be told apart if they were remarkably ridiculous. Soon enough, though, every weekend is ridiculous. It is true that it’s hard to sit down and recapitulate college. There is always some prelim, essay or deadline and then that surreal process of unwinding after you have worked hard to earn it — or not. But it is always the end of semester that makes me reflective. T.S. Eliot managed to measure his life in coffee spoons, and I measure mine in blurred albums that have captured and will capture each of my eight semesters. Every spring, when I am faced with the last week of publication, it is daunting because the closing column must be special. It must reflect the surge of feelings that suddenly come out of nowhere when an entire school year ends. Crossing the bridge from a freshman to a sophomore, from a junior to a senior or a senior to a real person is obviously way more than adding another transcript to your record. It is a shift of identity. It brings the anticipation about the rest of life shuffling impatiently behind the curtain and so much reluctance to leave the role you just played to perfection.

We miss everything — that one baneful class that made you cry, scream and finally delirious. At the same time, it pushed you to not give up. There are the embarrassing stories that you couldn’t stop talking about once but eventually get lost among other memories, the high point of semester and the lowest — everything is remembered with a sense of fondness when a year ends. But with the 12 inches of snow, the phantomic class, each and every “hell” week, the people that are still around and the ones that have not found a place in your life yet, you have really come a long way in the process. It is always the home stretch, when one is preparing to finish strong, that brings back the year in short, breathless flashbacks. At that point, we’re almost grateful for everything. I know that at times, a semester can bring about the most unexpected circumstances that are impossible to rationalize. However, even in the aftermath, you are always left with something to be thankful for. At the beginning of every year, we all harbor secret hopes about the way we picture our lives by the end of the year. By the time you actually reach the end, it is phenomenal how you did not have the slightest idea about the things that were waiting to happen to you. Nevertheless, you do end up living distorted versions of what you had hoped for. The only reason the facts do not match is because we only have an idea about what we want, not necessarily what we need.

But while Slope Day sneakily approaches — shrouded by formals and annoyingly late prelims — so does that baffling moment when your crazy, beautiful year and for graduating seniors, all of college, makes sense. For us, at Cornell, it has been another exciting year — as President David Skorton will soon write in an e-mail, probably for one of his last end-of-year updates. Cornell Days happened and it was so compelling seeing pre-freshmen run around Collegetown while seniors were enjoying senioritis outside Collegetown Bagels — maybe its the Circle of Life? Ke$ha came and left campus drowning in glitter, students broke the silence surrounding sexual violence, there was that one day when classes actually got cancelled (only ones before 10 a.m of course) and President Skorton announced the end of his term. To say the very least, it has been an extremely eventful year, and, for each one of us, a beginning of some sort is about to commence. But before that, the home stretch and a last throwdown. The blissful sunsets are doing the past year justice and so must we, for the sake of how much we have learned and are yet to learn. I always get a little sad on the 20-hour-long flight from New York to home at the end of semester. As Emily Griffin once said, “Endings are almost always a little sad, even when there is something to look forward to on the other side.” But they are also fulfilling — so finish well, start again and hold on to the memories.