My Syracuse Trip: How to forgive the scene of a crime

If you’re unhappy, Syracuse University could easily make you suicidal. Sunshine is nonexistent from October through March, making it the epitome of a gray and dreary winter. It’s no shocker that this is a prime location for S.A.D., aka Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression that occurs largely from lack of sunlight. To top it off, Syracuse, NY gets more snow than any other large U.S. city, averaging 115 inches each winter.

But I’m going to tell you what I realized over the weekend, on my first trip back to the place I spent 4 years of college: It’s not Syracuse’s fault.

For the past 9 years, since my freshman year in 2000, I have been angry with the Central New York city. Syracuse took me 5 hours away from my sick mother. Syracuse was where I returned just 2 weeks after she died. Syracuse was where I experienced the hell of my grief: the overeating, the weight gain, the pneumonia, the inability to cry because of how afraid I was to face my own sadness. Syracuse was the place I said “good riddance” to after graduation and told my roommates that I had no desire to return.

And yet, this past weekend I did return – and I smiled so much my face actually hurt at one point! Seeing my friend Marissa with her roommates reminded me of my girlfriends, and how much fun and laughter we shared together. Meeting with my old professors made me reflect on how much I learned from studying under some of the most intelligent journalists I know. And playing Flip Cup and Asshole at my favorite bar, Chuck’s, made me realize how much FUN I had in college.

Grief in the land of beer pong is both grief and beer pong. Maybe being able to let loose during those years is what balanced my grief and made me eventually able to accept my mom’s death… because I knew I could still have fun, and that because of that, I’d be able to live.