There have been many clever and original senior columns I could attempt to outdo, but all I want this to be is a thank you note to my friends and family, a love letter to a city and an ending to a chapter in my life:
A friend of mine once told me that we should seek to plunge ourselves deeply into our emotions in order to know ourselves, even if it’s not necessarily what we want to feel. Identity is located in the depths and crevices of our mind.
I gave up a career in the sciences to focus my attention on materials that actually interested me, Pipe Dream and growth as a person. I couldn’t tell you which of the myriad of reasons were the deciding factors, but it was the correct decision if I’ve ever made one. My youth still tells me that the material opportunity cost will be more than fulfilled wherever I go with what it is I’ve always wanted – answers.
As the photography editor of this newspaper I’ve learned that though photojournalism is supposed to be (read: pretends to be) objective, the camera lens is the most empathetic instrument I’ve come to use. The camera robs life from people, it’s the most important moments that we wish to keep forever – it’s a horcrux (if Harry Potter should ever necessitate reference, it is here). Photography is a realm where the moment lost is a physical memory gained; simple unforgiving minutes ripped away from me manifest as beautiful, exquisite imagery. We think in images, but we cast them away so easily whether it’s a field of study (art history) or a profession (I couldn’t tell you). I urge everyone to be more selective when they photograph. In short, battling existential dread and meaninglessness, photography has been my attempt at life.
I have come to the conclusion, over the past four years, that life’s greatest gifts may come to us during our search for meaning and happiness; although we may lose ourselves along the way, we always find each other. It’s a strange thing having to clutch onto every moment I can, at school where I am surrounded by the people who have made and unmade through experiences shared and sometimes not, when they usually pass without my attention. As the great Kurt Vonnegut once said, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” I ask that you go spelunking in unhappiness, nose-dive into love and go deep-sea diving in fear, uncomfortable situations and euphoria.
I have never lived nor loved as fully or as deeply as I have while a member of Pipe Dream’s staff and as a student at Binghamton University. In between the neat yet unevenly chipping paint clinging to the walls in the Pipe Dream photo office, or outside on the Spine enjoying the company of the friends I’ve made, I know just one thing to be constantly true: I will miss my time in such a weird and wonderful place.
I almost decided that I wasn’t going to shout anyone out, but now that thought seems criminal – you all deserve better from me.
To my family: I’m sure you don’t read the paper, you might not even know the name and I doubt I’ll share this with you, but good god there is so much to say and too little time left in the universe to say it. Mammi, I always miss you. You’ve taught me empathy like no one else, your disappointment makes me cry every time. Pappi, I know I’m quiet but I am always listening, I haven’t forgotten you. I am stronger because of you. Ian, I’m pretty sure Mom and Dad are disappointed in you when I’m doing better, so keep that up.
To Jeremy, Toren, Ben and Nick (and to the graduated boys of 73 Leroy, RIP): You’ve shown me friendship that I have never known before and loyalty I could never match. You shame me every day. The memories I’ll tell everyone about when I’m 50 will have you guys in it, I am truly so lucky. Zorped, yung Boston accents, late night talks, fake diets, every goddamn improv show, Duane, unruly until our last – I can yerp to that. Nick, the first time we met I thought you were the worst person in the world, but look at us now, in the gym (even if it took you a year and half to convince me to go). Jeremy, there is nothing quite like tapping our cups against the table twice, clinking them together and setting unprecedented and unsustainable numbers. Ben, sorry for eating your pesto or cheese or cookie, but it was Jeremy – I hope I’ve been a good friend besides that. Toren, let’s argue over something. Hopefully, 63 Oak can move into the city, sometime soon. I believe Sir Yerpington will be calling our names for the rest of our time in Binghamton.
To the women of a certain CIW suite my freshman year and one person in particular: It’s strange to think about how different I might’ve been had I not met you all, but I am so glad that I did. I don’t know when I’ll speak to you again so, for now, I’ll keep the words I remember.
To Carl Gelderloos: my thesis advisor and professor, thank you for your patience and guidance. Everyone take his classes if you can, speak to him if you can, learn from him if you can.
To Pipe Dream’s staff, present and future: You’ve let me take too much credit, go forth and be rid of me. Please love this paper as I have. Alex and Pelle, please don’t lose inspiration. Rohit, thank you for your meal plan money and fist-bumps, even when I didn’t want them. Jeff, you’re quiet and thoughtful, please speak up — everyone will be better for it. Odeya, you won’t have the food in my fridge to eat during parties anymore, please take care. Aleza, Sihang and Sam, there isn’t a vertical. Carla and Gabby, you put up with me for some reason, I thank you for that. E.Jay, fireball? Lawrence and Katie, we didn’t hang out enough – Lawrence, I especially remember you turning down an offer to come hang out, you owe me. Kevin and Kevin, make me proud. To my four (ha!) humble assistants, sorry for being a tyrant … but I’m not that sorry. Mike, I joined Pipe Dream by running into you at a poetry slam – I don’t believe in fate, but this is close. Finally, Emma, we’ve had our share of memories remembered and not; let me speak for Ben when I say we’re going to miss our talks – let the group chat never die. Real friends, how many of us? (I hate that I quoted Kanye, but fine). Here is to our futures, Pipe Dream.
Thank you, everyone, for taking my hand and plunging into the depths with me. I needed it.
I’ve had the best four years of my life inside the confines of this city. While I may never admit Binghamton or Pipe Dream were the sources of my unbridled joy — more often than not, stress and anxiety — I simply cannot deny the timing.
Franz Lino is a senior double-majoring in integrative neuroscience and comparative literature