Ariane de Gennaro

A little over a year ago, I wrote about how much I appreciated my friends. I titled the piece “‘In these people, I have everything I need’: a cheers to the friends of now.” In the time since, gratitude has come up in my writing again and again. I am grateful for simple breakfasts picked up in Europe, for time spent with my mom and grandmother, for being able to learn more about what it means to slow down and actually appreciate the little things. I am grateful for the ability to probe all the little corners of my “coming of age” era freely, pocketing certain values and insights along the way. 

This piece was supposed to be about someone I was grateful for. On a recent run, I mentioned to a friend how I didn’t want to write what I considered a “basic” gratitude piece, about how I didn’t realize I was grateful for X person until I had Y experience and how I realized the positive impact that X person had on my life. I’m weary of this arc: I can tell you now, as I did then, that the people in my life matter to me. That sentiment has not changed, but that sentiment is not what this piece is about.

The last three years have been a game of musical chairs, documented in more than 250 pages of journal entries. Some of this chaos is public, but most of it is not (the handwriting is indiscernible, anyway).The trifecta of Yale Plagues: mono, the flu and COVID-19 (twice). Mood changes, major changes, saying hello, goodbye and hello again to social groups, sports and academic passions. Sixteen flights in 2022, then saying goodbye to being a teenager.  The highs and lows, for the most part, canceled each other out. Somehow, the path is still a bit hazy, but I know it exists. 

Through all of this, I am most grateful for one person: myself. I am grateful for all of the luxuries that touch me: my parents, my friends, my brothers and boyfriend and professors and Yale and the fact that this place has yielded more than I could have ever dreamed of when I wrote on that piece of paper on my bathroom mirror that I wanted to go to an Ivy League school. I am grateful — more than ever — for my health and the fact that I am eager to wake up and start the day most mornings. I am grateful that I have learned, both in an academic sense and an emotional sense, about what it means to have a center that I can always return to. I am grateful that I no longer want to live a life of demanding extremes, no longer want to throw myself headfirst into activities or emotions. These lists of what happened and what I gained go on and on, but if there’s one thing I can trust about myself, it’s that they will only grow longer in the years to come. There will always be more, and I believe I will always be exploring the boundary between superabundance and balance. But for now, I relish in the comfort and surety of trusting myself. 

When my parents moved into our home in the early 2000s, my grandmother gave them two magnolia trees to plant at the end of the driveway. She passed away of malignant, late-stage melanoma a year after I was born. When the flowers bloom every summer, my mom clips a few and leaves them on the kitchen counter. I sit at the table and read the Seattle Times with my dad. Their perfume is sweet. 

Three days ago, the pink magnolia tree in the Branford courtyard bloomed, and this morning, a member of my future lab mentioned the potential of a new cancer therapeutic to improve outcomes for patients with both lung cancer and melanoma. I am grateful that I am who I am, that I am precisely where I am supposed to be at this moment in time. We all have bumps along the way — both peaks and troughs — but gratitude is about knowing that they all lead somewhere that is difficult to regret. We need to accept that gratitude doesn’t always have to be about something beyond yourself.  

Anabel Moore edits for the WKND desk. She previously wrote for the WKND, Magazine and Arts desks as a staff writer. Originally from the greater Seattle, WA area, she is a junior in Branford College double-majoring in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and the History of Art with a certificate in Global Health.