May 9, 2023

BASU l Timekeeping

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May 2023 has been on my mind for a long time. For years, it felt unbelievably far — the date I selected when signing up for college tours, filling out the Common App, when completing internship and eventually job applications. And yet, all that time, the countdown was going. May 2023 is here, and I can’t believe how easily it snuck up on me. 

This is partly due to how normal the last few months have felt. Even knowing May 2023 was hurtling towards me, I fell into the same rhythm of classes, extracurriculars and all the other familiarities of a Cornell semester. But in many ways, that rhythm is what I’ll miss the most. When I first transferred in the fall of 2020, Cornell was impossibly huge and three years felt like a long time. But it got smaller, as I found the places and people I could rely on. 

In the same way, as I started to look forward to the familiar routine of a new semester, time seemed to speed up. Year after year, there’s a comfort in the inevitability of certain landmarks that dot every fall or spring. There’s always a first day of classes. Prelim season. Club recruitment. Hockey games. Sitting on the slope for the first time each spring, on one of those unseasonably warm days. And now as a senior, I’m acutely aware that so many of the traditions I’ve come to rely on will be my last. 

This sense of rhythm was noticeably absent when I first arrived. Instead, it was a blur of virtual classes, homework and internship applications, mostly completed from my dorm on West Campus. While I spent a lot of that semester hearing about all the things I would have been doing during a normal O-week or Halloween or fall break, the pandemic left little to look forward to as the semester slipped by, week after week.

Luckily, I joined The Cornell Daily Sun that first semester. The routine of writing and eventually editing, even virtually, provided some of the structure I craved. Instead of just 15 weeks, a semester became 35 print issues and 12 late nights spent at The Sun office. Even in the days when campus was deserted, I knew I could walk into a building every Tuesday and Thursday and see the new issue we had created. 

As we adjust to a post-COVID-19 Cornell, the Class of 2023 has been playing a lot of catch up. We’re still experiencing some firsts alongside the lasts. Maybe that’s why May 2023 feels like it arrived too fast. We’ve spent the last two years finding this rhythm of life at Cornell only to lose it so soon. 

Graduation offers an exciting new sense of freedom. For many of us it will be the first time without the strictures of an academic schedule. Some of us don’t know where we’ll be next year and even for those that do, whether it’s a job or graduate school, our everyday lives will probably be drastically different from what we’ve known for the last four years. But as ambiguous as those first months and years may be, I’m optimistic that we’ll find new ways of keeping time. But I hope we also remember those familiar traditions, big and small, that made our life at Cornell so special. 

Surita Basu was an Assistant News Editor on the 139th Editorial Board and was the Assistant Managing Editor on the 140th Editorial Board. She can be reached at [email protected]