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Shakarean Hutchinson Introduction (Cornell University ’18)

Image: Robert Thompson

It’s a weird thing, leaving the only place you have known for the first time. I was never one of those kids that moved around, not state to state or city to city or even from one house to another. My family made its home in South Carolina (many many generations before I ever came to be) and despite a few excursions out of the state I always came back-to the South, to Charleston, to home.

I chronicled my application process here on the MFA Years some months before so there is no reason for another rundown, but part of my happiness in being accepted into multiple programs was that they were far away and I knew I would be getting out. There was now a justifiable reason for me needing to leave the state outside of the “want to” that was my reason before. And in the months leading up to moving to Ithaca, NY, I had been excited. I was moving across country and getting a chance to learn at a great program. Nothing could take me down from that high, no matter how many people tried to warn me of the realities of how hard it is to move for the first time on your own.

And now that I’m in Ithaca, now that I’m in the new place, I don’t know if I particularly like it.

Let me stop right here and say now that this has nothing to do with the program. Orientation was good. I purposely waited until the last possible moment in August to write this post so I could get a few workshops in and those have been good (still not talking all that much but that’s for another post). I like the other classes I’m taking. Cornell is hilly, I’m sweating out my hair, but otherwise it is fine.

What has made me homesick is outside of Cornell. It’s nothing big, but it’s a lot of little things adding up that has me questioning why. Just, why. I keep telling myself that these are not only my first few weeks here in Ithaca but my first few weeks ever outside of South Carolina and that things are bound to get better. I keep telling myself that there are people who had it worst then me and who dealt with their shit and prospered. I keep telling myself that at minimum it’s two years in Ithaca and then I can leave.

So far, none of this is working.

But god, do I want to be here. I want to be at Cornell and be around these writers who I respect and this cohort that I’m digging and who I hope to learn from.

How do you get over the little things? How do you let them fade away, let them go, and enjoy what you have right now in front in you? How do you adjust yourself enough to let the good things come to the forward and forget about the bad?

It’s a process, moving somewhere else for the first time. The first week was hard. This current second week has been better. I’m adjusting and that’s all I can really do for now. It’s all I really want for now. I have no idea if I’ll eventually like this place. What I do know is that in two weeks I have grown an appreciation of home I never had before. There is no place like it I’ve been told.

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