February 12, 2016

WHITE KNUCKLES | Why We Need Storms

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They wouldn’t call it Ithaca if reaching here was easy. The journey back is even more Odyssey-like if you are trying to cross the Atlantic Ocean in perfect synch with Jonas: the great snow storm that buried New York in white silence and inconvenience.

It was Friday night; I was at home in Italy with my luggage packed and almost all my goodbyes said. Right before dinner, I checked the status of my flight, looking for a confirmation, then fearing a change of plans. The red “cancelled” threw me in the utmost desperation. While in tears, I tried to reach the air company on the phone and thought of my suitcase already in the car, the pizza I ordered as my last Italian dinner until the summer and the winter clothes that I happily didn’t need for a month. I was never one who liked last minutes changes, I like definite plans and timetables. I was worried about not finding another flight for a reasonable price. A million thoughts flurried my mind: I had to email my boss because I could no longer make it to work Sunday morning, I needed to pick up my textbooks, I had to figure out how to get from New York City to Ithaca if the buses weren’t running, the house smelled like pizza, my mom had on jasmine perfume, my dad was watching TV on the couch, my grandma was downstairs, the sky was limpid and daisies were prematurely blooming.

I did find a ticket for the Sunday after and for a reasonable price. I spent Saturday in a most Italian way, with cappuccino in the morning even though I prefer ginseng coffee, then in the afternoon I took a stroll around a sunny, warm city center. The golden light hit the cobblestones, the stores opened and the people moseyed around town without gloves. The morning after, mother hugged me by the car and my dad drove me to the airport. Our car rides were mostly quiet, with the radio filling the silence. He gave me solid life advice, I nodded as I always did and drank the juice he had kept in his car. After checking in, I rushed to security even though it was early. I looked back twice and not once more.

Intercontinental flights are long and good for some introspection. The extra day I spent at home had been wonderful, and I didn’t know why I was so upset about the first flight being cancelled. I did fear that I would be late to classes, or have to spend a lot of money for a new ticket, but I knew that it wasn’t just that. It was the storm that hit me. Even after three years, sometimes I don’t know where to stand. I am lucky enough to say that I belong to two places, but sometimes the line between the two blurs. I try to make my transitions as smooth as possible: from Italy to Ithaca, from night to day, from one language to another. But transitions are not smooth, they are violent storms. I don’t really see the beauty in snow; it makes everything quiet, white, anonymous; it weighs down branches while paralyzing them, it makes the earth hard and impenetrable. Storms are different: they are movement, strength, a chaotic dance. They make you think about what you leave behind. They push you to get up early, shovel and clear up things in your path.

Emma is a junior Classics major in the College of Arts and Sciences. An Italian native, she loves Virginia Woolf and dreads Ithaca winters. She writes about her experience at Cornell as an international student, and has an uncontrollable passion for excessively long sentences and vivid metaphors. She can be usually found enjoying a soup in Temple of Zeus, and can be reached at [email protected]