May 12, 2021

KENKARE | Loving Cornell Properly

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Everyone always says Cornell isn’t the place, it’s the people. Maybe this is naive, but it’s not like that for me. I know that I will take the people I’ve met here with me wherever I go (and if you think you know better, that bonds grow weak and memories fade, please don’t tell me.) My brilliant roommates, my dazzling best friends and my beloved coworkers will stay with me. So, for me, what I’m really saying goodbye to is the place.

Confession: I didn’t love Cornell the first time I visited. I was an angsty 17-year-old, leaving mid-eighties weather in Georgia to land in chilly, low-fifties Ithaca. I refused to take the campus tour with my parents and somehow got lost on the slope, walking up and down and around until I exhausted myself. 

I redeemed myself, though. By the end of O-week, I fell in love with it here — and when you know, you know. I walked an average of seven miles a day that August, exploring every bit of campus my legs would take me to. I visited Sunset Park, climbed up the highest tower of the Law School and hiked Buttermilk Falls. I came to adore my nook in Clara Dickson Hall, met the girls who are my roommates and best friends to this day and, when it came time to move out, wept to Harry Hudsons’s Yellow Lights through the last week (til the boy across the hall threatened to throw my speaker out the window).

Maybe it’s silly to think that four years of swimming in First Dam and standing on the roof of Kennedy Hall and photosynthesizing on the slope — and yes, swotting in Baker 200 and crying in the cocktail lounge and working so hard to justify reveling in the good parts — is what it means to love Cornell properly, but maybe that’s the point. Maybe the point is for each of us to graduate thinking, this is the right way, the only way, to have spent the past four years. 

I am thankful for the runs I’ve taken, across waterfalls, along the Arts Quad and towards a triumphantly ringing clocktower. I am thankful for the summers I gloried in and the winters I marveled at and the temperamental springs. I am thankful for the lessons learned, for the snow falls survived, even for that one year that did not once pull its punches. I am thankful for the people I’ve met, the professors who have taught me, the fairy tale buildings I’ve studied in, the knowledge I’ve gained and the millions of moments I’ve spent laughing on this treacherous hill. 

(Pallavi Kenkare/Sun Opinion Columnist)

I am thankful for The Cornell Daily Sun, which is the reason I am able to write this article at all, and easily the most worthwhile thing I’ve done at Cornell — a responsibility that has humbled me, lifted me up and introduced me to men and women who are so much more at the ripe old age of 21 than I will ever be. When the beginning waves of a pandemic had just begun to break on Ithaca’s shores, my incredible editor-in-chief texted me a senior’s guest submission that I really should look at; as I edited it, and many times again throughout that year, I decided that working at The Sun, gleaning insight into the joys and woes and ideas of Cornellians from all over campus, was the only way to love Cornell properly. Finally, I can say to all the people on Facebook who commented, “Who would publish this piece of garbage?” Hi! Yes, it’s me!

This is what I will graduate feeling, and what I wish for all of you.

So, to quote the immortal lines of Sarah Park ’20, whose grad column I was lucky enough to edit a year ago, “I hope you found a home here. I hope you found places in Ithaca that feel like magic. I hope you found people who make Cornell feel like a love story. I hope you found something or someone who made it hard to say goodbye to this desolate little icy town upon a hill in the middle of nowhere. I hope you fell in love with the person you became here.”

Because I did, and I hope you do too. As I sit typing in my slanty-walled little apartment in Collegetown, all I can think is, in the words of A.A. Milne, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” 

Pallavi Kenkare is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She served as the opinion editor on the 138th editorial board and can be reached at [email protected]. This is the final installment of her column Jabberwocky.