In December 2019, I got a text from my cousin, Bill, out of the blue. We hadn’t talked in almost a year, but he read The Sun’s albums of the decade list, and like everyone else who read it, had a bone to pick with our ranking. It was probably fair; after all, Clairo was ranked above Kendrick Lamar, Barter 6 was above Channel Orange and Title Fight’s Hyperview made it instead of Floral Green. The more we talked about the list, though, the more I realized how much of his taste was passed down to me.
Growing up, I always sought an older brother figure, and I got that from Bill. I took his music taste, his hand-me-downs and later his love of writing. I spent Thanksgiving with him, and after debating Mac Miller’s discography for hours, I wrote my first article for The Sun (which was rejected by Pete which convinced me to compet for assistant Arts and Entertainment editor so that I could force it through). That conversation in 2019 came out of nowhere, and reminded me why I started writing in the first place.
He passed away later that night.
That conversation should’ve been the perfect closure, but it was so unexpected that I couldn’t handle it. His death hung over me for all of 2020. Suddenly The Sun, which was the most consistent part of my life since my sophomore year, was inseparable from grief. The joy I got from writing was gone, too. Despite that I kept with it and went through compet again because of the people around me — thank you Jeremy, Emma, Pete, Maryam and Amina. I don’t think any of you knew what was going on, but all of your positivity kept my head on straight.
My friend Raphy wrote in his senior column that “we are who we pretend to be.” For me, that meant pretending that there was nothing weighing on me, until I eventually believed it. Compet is a stressful enough process on its own, but I didn’t know any better besides faking as if there was nothing hanging over my head, but that did get me through it, back to loving editing and working with my dream team of writers. Fake it ‘til you make it, I guess.
This is the hardest thing I’ve ever written. I don’t want this final bit of closure. I don’t want to acknowledge that this final connection I have with my cousin is coming to an end. But The Sun gave me this last memory, and so many other memories over the last three years, and for that I am eternally grateful. While I am endlessly thankful, this column is not endless, so here’s a few thank you’s we could fit:
Pete, Jeremy, Emma and Brian: I couldn’t have picked a better team to work with if I tried.
Connor and Melat: Thank you for always going out of your way to read everything I wrote, no matter the relevance of the topic to you. There were so many times I felt like my writing was nothing more than screaming lukewarm takes into the void, but you two always kept that feeling in check.
Liv: I remember leaving our first date to write an article about Telfar and New York Fashion Week, which probably should’ve been a heads-up into the rest of our relationship. Thank you for dyeing my hair, and for everything else. I love you.
Pablo and Nick: Thank you for always pushing my creative limits and questioning what I’m capable of. Working in the same spaces as you two always inspires me and gives me endless hope for the future.
Mom, Dad and Erin: Thank you for all the support forever. I wouldn’t have gotten to Cornell without you, and I certainly wouldn’t be graduating without you.
Daniel Moran is a graduating senior in the College of Human Ecology. He was the assistant Arts and Entertainment editor on the 137th and 138th editorial boards.