Can I admit something?
The warmth of California sometimes frustrates me. It is just so undeniably constant. So predictable.
I know when I wake up in the morning what I will need for the day — every day. There is always sun, a slightly smoggy sky and chilly, empty nights. But most of all, there is monotony, repetition and uniformity.
I can give you so many synonyms underlying this exaggerated bitterness. At the bottom of it, I will concede that all of my complaints are inspired by one very simple sensation: nostalgia.
In the magical wonderland known as the Midwest, seasons are defined by something a bit unfamiliar to California: seasonal change. And all of these changes, these brief flurries of vicissitudes and uncertainty, are always welcomed. These shifts are natural, graceful and yet, despite their fluid and imminent nature, always surprising.
More than a week ago, one particular change was heavy in the air — a change as inevitable as the shifting seasons of the Midwest.
After 19 years as president of USC, President Steven B. Sample announced his resignation.
I firmly believe that Sample is the person who has radically changed the character of USC, and he was pivotal in the transformation of the student body, community outreach programs and academic priorities of this campus. Without him, USC would not be the institution that it is today.
But in remembering all of his numerous triumphs, it would be a bit blind and foolish of us to completely dismiss the few flaws and mistakes — like the displacement of the surrounding community — that are just as present and tangible in his legacy.
It is incredibly easy to only remember the immaculate faces of the things we love. So many facets of our childhood, for instance, are intensely glorified. My insistence on changing seasons is one of them.
For nearly three years, I have hated on California’s sun. I laughed when it drizzled and class attendance fell 80 percent and I scoffed when students wearing Uggs walked about campus in 65-degree heat.
I pitied all the native Californians who would never understand the sensation of making the first footprints on newly fallen snow or the sting of a snowball on your left cheek. Of spending an hour making the largest leaf pile possible only to climb on a ladder and jump — destroying all your hard work with one triumphant leap.
When I think of autumn and winter, I remember only the soothing, epic moments from my childhood. When I think of autumn, I think of vivacity — the satisfying crunch of every step, the new, vibrant hues of red and orange and gold that come to life with every blink.
And when I think about winter, I think of magic.
Winter is that sharp tang of a crisp, raw morning. It’s feeling the snow clinging to the back of your neck after your first snow angel. It’s the icicles falling from bare, extended arms like crystalline bangles, swaying to an unmoving wind.
It’s whispering a familiar tune with ol’ Bing smiling somewhere next to you, the settling snow and drifting zephyrs caressing our rosying cheeks. It’s seeing a pure, white blanket of untouched perfection lying snug on every inch of the horizon and thinking, “Hello, old friend.”
What I often forget to consider are the inches of dirty, blackened snow and the heightened smell of waste in the air from trash solidifying in the streets. I forgot about the layer of ice underneath tantalizing white mounds of fresh snow that caused more than a dozen bruises on my anxious body. I forgot that instead of marching footprints into the freshly fallen slush or building snowmen with my little sister, I was often scraping ice off of what suddenly seemed to be an endless driveway.
It’s certainly reassuring and comforting to remember only the glorious moments of anything coming to an end.
Stuck in this Californian wasteland, I tell anyone I can only have the most beautiful memories about exhilarating leaps into leaf piles and the glistening beauty of falling snow. That icy driveway is, however, just as relevant as snow angels and neighborhood-wide snowball fights.
Sample had undeniable blemishes in his legacy that, far from being moments of condemnation, should nevertheless be reflected upon. Yes, I agree — Sample was a legend, a visionary and quite possibly our most influential president; but like the two-faced coin of winter, his presidency was not perfect. Changes — some that now require implementation because of Sample’s choices and actions — are still waiting to be made.
Tiffany Yang is a junior majoring in comparative literature. Her column, “Alphabet Soup,” runs Wednesdays.