Kenyon College Alumni
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

February Epiphany

by Eric J. Raicovich, Class of 2005

Freshman year, I remember being particularly bitter about the winter weather we had been experiencing. It snowed a lot. A lot. Because it was so cold, the conditions were pretty icy, so you went from class to class at your own risk. I was still acclimating to Midwestern winters; being from New York City, I was spoiled, having become accustomed to less frequent accumulation and reliably plowed streets that were never as slippery as Middle Path.

On a late night in February, I was preparing for a big test in what I considered to be a hopelessly impossible course. I was at the library until the “nerd bell” went off at 2:00 a.m., at which point I packed my bags and threw on my four layers of clothes to prepare for the trek through the bitter night back to the freshman quad. I was feeling particularly homesick at the time. I was pledging a fraternity, I was taking tough courses, I was really tired, and man, it was cold.

As I cut back behind the library, making my way to Ward Street and past Palme House, I started thinking about one of the test problems that had been eluding me all night long for this class. I couldn't think of a solution for the life of me, and it was driving me insane. Was I thinking too much about one specific aspect and not about something else? Was the answer obvious, or was it completely over my head?

What I should have been paying attention to was the path I was forging for myself through the snow. I must have hit a patch of slick ice, because the next minute I completely ate it, flew into the air, and landed on my back, knocking the wind out of myself. I lay there for a minute or two and waited for the stars to stop circulating around and around my head. As the imaginary stars dissipated, they gave way to the Gambier night sky – a phenomenon that I had not yet truly appreciated, like you could see until the end of the universe. I was still on my back but surrounded by easily six inches of snow, in complete awe of the millions of stars out there and the silence that engulfed me. Aside from the fading ringing in my head, I was in complete peace.

Then, all of a sudden, the answer to the test problem came to me. Out of nowhere, just like that. Everything made sense. I had to get up and go write down the result of my epiphany before I forgot it, but I was mesmerized by what was right in front of me: the stars, the deep midnight blue sky, the snow that reflected off the moon on the tips of the pine trees.

I lay there for a good five minutes or so, until the cold began to set in and I realized I had to get up and make my way back to my dorm. Standing up, I brushed the snow off myself and found my shoulder bag, which had somehow flown a foot or two in a different direction during the fall. I felt great relief, having figured out the answer to my problem, but my emotion ran deeper than that. I had come to the realization that I didn’t miss home, but that I was home. It took some ice to hit me with a dose of reality, but it was a welcome dose. And for the remainder of my time at Kenyon, I never winced when I opened my windows and saw falling snow – unless, of course, I was flying out of Columbus that day.

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