When you put a minimalist and a maximalist in a room together at 18 and tell them to make the arrangement work, it makes no sense that ours did. For four years, we inhabited two different Cornells, but we worked as roommates because we both wanted to create the same Cornell: a place where you can be both soft and strong, thriving and hurt, grounded in your being and terrified of your becoming.
The outside world is dangerous. Taxes stalk us down, a more successful hunter than jaguars; landlords breathe down our necks when the rent is due but are nowhere to be found when toilets won’t flush; mom is no longer there to hold our hands for shots in doctor’s appointments.
My mom’s favorite things to share about her college experience were all the memories she had of her friends. The late night study sessions, the dorm dynamics, the nights out, and sneaking extra coffee cake from the dining hall. So as I took my first steps on North Campus, I was filled with excitement and expectation thinking of the great friendships that awaited me. Similarly to high school, I was fed a narrative of college being the greatest time of my life, the place where I would make my forever friends and other rose-tinted statements that are simultaneously true and false.
While I certainly talked to and gave a lot of people my phone number during O-Week, a lot of those numbers are sitting in my contacts like emails in my inbox from the club listservs I joined out of genuine interest but never ended up going to. Still, I’ve met many wonderful people that have been invaluable to me as pillars of support, cheerleaders, relationship coaches, comedians, study buddies and just proof that amazing human beings are out there.
In my first year of college, I made the misstep of taking class at the ungodly hour of 8:00 a.m. Against all advice, I, the beaming young student, was eager to tackle the demons of chemistry in the wee hours of the morning. The folly of my decision would soon become apparent through sleepless nights of composing reports and balancing equations, but for the moment I possessed an unrelenting determination to succeed. After successfully ignoring my alarm for a week, I soon understood that 8 a.m. was not as charming as I had thought, and I numbered the days until I would finally drop the course. On the last day, I decided out of respect for the teacher that I would brave the challenge of the early morning one final time. So I sat in the last row of seats, unsure of whether or not to take notes, feeling an awkward sense of premonition.
I have a friend named Evan whose rapper name is Dough Boi and he makes music and you should check it out on SoundCloud. I realize how unappealing that sounds. My reaction to people on social media or YouTube hawking their “fire mixtapes” and begging “please just give me a chance” always inspires a mix of disdain and embarrassment in me. The only music I ever listen to is either critically lauded or at least signed to a record label. Evan is the only exception.