May 26, 2017

WHITE KNUCKLES | Acknowledgments Too Long for My Thesis

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When I graduated high school, I wrote a farewell piece in the school paper; it came easy, words were flowing without obstacles, I had a lot to say. Four years later, I still have a lot to say; however, this is one of those very few times when I felt that there might not be enough words, or that they will be too small and timid, too controlled, too human. After reading Virginia Woolf, I found myself validated in my belief that humans are only allotted scattered moments of happiness – happiness which does indeed exist, but which is too big and overwhelming to be taken in over long period of time. We all know those moments in which everything lines up, in which time is right and slow, and everything is in place and shouldn’t be anywhere else – that is happiness, and it is a state of perfection that I always believed too divine to be long-lasting. I wasn’t completely right; the happiness I’ve felt over these four years was definitely human, not continuous but stretched out over weeks, over people, over places.

When I first started at Cornell, I did not have the faintest idea that my life would be what it is now. I am glad it came unexpected; it allowed me to walk an original path, with aspirations but without expectations or demands. I disliked Ithaca four years ago and I am happy to leave it now; everything else has changed, has gotten so bright that it seems dream-like sometimes. This is the only paragraph in which I talk strictly about me; this piece is not about me. Everything that I have been lucky enough to experience was the beautiful gift of the people around me; all the bad moments I have overcome, the pride I’ve felt, the things I created: those, I didn’t do them alone, not a single one of them.

There is nostalgia in goodbyes; thank yous have beauty, they defeat time, they stretch four years over a lifetime. These are my thanks.

Thank you to the instructors who have inspired me; thank you for believing in what I could do, for trusting in the indefiniteness of my creativity, for repeating yourself, for molding my writing to the American, academic one without suffocating it. Thank you for telling me to think about what I wanted to do, with all those notions and translations and comparisons between ancient and modern; now I know where I am going.

Thank you to the Robert Purcell Marketplace Eatery staff: because I found a family where I least expected to. It is almost impossible to explain how working in a dining hall has come to mean so much to me, it is hard to explain that all those hours and days I didn’t want to go and days I wanted the place to burn down and all those things that made me upset and all the counters left dirty and the bins too heavy to carry, that all those things have changed me in a way that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. I learned things that I couldn’t have known otherwise; I learned to speak up, to lead by example, to smile when the smallest thing goes right, I felt like I could make a difference, and I felt how huge this is. When I started, as a freshman, I was terrified of having to explain to customers how the place worked, and I dreaded asking questions; I felt so out of place, too slow, I felt my arms too shaky, my accent too strong, the hat too low on my brow, my gloves too big. I am a very different person now, and this I owe to the wonderful people I met at work. Thank you for the inside jokes, thank you for talking about down-to-earth stuff in a place where sometimes reality gets lost, thank you for everything you have taught me and everything you listened to, thank you for having my back, a thousand times thank you.

Thank you to those friends who were coworkers or roommates and became the stars of my life. Thank you for accepting me – emotional, with too much to say, with poor story-telling skills – thank you because never once did I feel alone. Your unbounded love is the greatest gifts that I could have ever asked for; it was sprinkled and scattered in all the lunches, the sushi, the episodes of Law and Order and The Office, the mornings at the gym, the burgers on the slope, the bottles of Red Cat, the Facebook events, the yearly or weekly traditions, the complaints and the rants, the long nights, tight hugs, close hearts. I have been so lucky to have you by my side, for every step of the way. I am excited to change location to see that nothing else changes. I am excited and proud to see the great things you will accomplish. I am forever thankful for the days, the storms, the snow, the breaks, for every second I’ve spent with you. Thank you for lighting up my way; your lights have filled my heart, they poured out onto my writing, my books, my uphill walks, onto everything.

Finally, thank you to who made this incredible happiness possible. Thank you Mamma, Papà e Polly. You gave me this life, you took it in your hands, you shaped it with love and books and long chats and honesty and humbleness, and you made it into something much bigger than I could have ever imagined. Thank you for believing in me, that I could have a life that most people can only dream about; thank you for teaching me to be determinate and hardworking, thank you for telling me to do what makes me happy, but to do it right, with passion and commitment. Thank you for annihilating the distance of an ocean, for showing me that there is a love that never, never changes. Thank you because all the things that you gave up for me have been transformed in the fragments that I chose to use to build up my (almost!) adult self: today, I feel more confident, and capable, and strong. And it is all because of you. Thank you for not showing me the easy way, but for having known since the beginning that I could find the best one. I can never repay you for everything you have given me; your love is wrapped around my world — no matter how big it got — and for this I can never thank you enough.

I am well aware that these words aren’t big enough; but I hope they are definitely human enough. Thank you to everyone who has been part of this marvelous journey. And thank you and goodbye, Cornell, because the most beautiful things are always the hardest.