Unless Dave’s 13 year-old brother actually follows through with his slightly premature plans to attend Cornell (and I should acknowledge that he’s already picked out his frat and is “physically preparing for pledging”), I’ll probably never have to return to Ithaca again. Or, god willing, all of upstate New York.
I have somewhat of a weird relationship with Cornell, a mentality fused together by these random connections that I use to justify giving the school a lot of shit. Like, my mom went there, and she’s obsessed with it, right down to the ice-cream, to such an extent that it’s difficult not to make fun of her about it. And my ex-boyfriend went there, and I’ll make fun of him for just about anything. Like, “ooh, you had to go to the #15 school in the country, even though you did all my physics homework for me?” Sure, I’ll take it. I’m mature like that.
Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Cornell was, indeed, on my college list. Though nothing really came close to my early decision sweetheart, there was a time that I thought I’d be OK if I ended up at the Big Red, reassured by the fact that it had a large student body to combat the lonely winters.
Now, I’m not so sure. I really do believe that most kids will be happy wherever they go, and that everything works out for the best. But me and Cornell? I think I might have been really depressed. I think I might have had a hard time with the snow and the sorority scene and the intensity of the courses and the whole middle-of-nowhere thing. I read those stories in March about the students tumbling into the gorges, one by one, and my stomach dropped and I was overcome with gratitudes of all sorts, but specifically the feeling that I was so lucky to be given the chance to go to a place where I had the best possible chance of succeeding and finding joy. Not because my school was a few U.S. News spots higher or had really pretty freshman dorms, but because it had the things that I personally needed to stay healthy, even through the rough patches.
I’m not saying that other people can’t be happy at Cornell. I’m just not sure that I could have been.
I felt tinges of it this weekend, sitting in the Johnson City Hampton Inn at 1 a.m. crying into a cell phone on the brink of losing service. There was a lot of stuff going on over those few days – drama with family and friends that I know took its toll on me – but I think at least part of it was that I’m just not meant for upstate New York. Really. The scenery, the pace, the feel – it all just makes me kind of sad.
Of course, the second the Philly skyline appeared in our windshield, I started perking up and even insisted that we take an evening walk to the waterfront.
I really do like it here. And like I said before, I feel so lucky to live somewhere that I adore. I know that not everyone has that luxury – and that I might not always have it either.