When it was warm enough we sat on a slab of rooftop that we made into a makeshift balcony. We left the window open so we could hear Manchester United playing City on the TV, but the sound of the game was drowned by the humming of cars and the chirping of the primary schoolers crossing the street below. (A little girl in a pink puffy jacket held the red stop sign as her teacher waited for a break in traffic.) We sunk back in plastic chairs with wobbly legs and loafed until the sun dipped below the trees, and then we were cold and went inside. This was last Monday.
The stories about the times I’ve been happy at Yale often take place in the late spring. There was the time we ordered Chinese food to our common room so we could watch the Masters in hopes that Tiger would make a comeback. (He didn’t. By the time I finished my lo mein, he was still four places behind Mickelson.)
There was the time we sat in the Silliman courtyard, four people to a bench, and committed, through herculean effort, to doing nothing. The way I remember it, someone was playing music, and the melody became part of the cacophony that comes when the weather is warm and people venture outside: footballs thudding as they’re caught, voices wandering from open windows, ice rocks tumbling inside plastic cups of Blue State coffee.
And then there were the times we skipped classes, the times we played bocce, the times we brought books outside to read but used them as pillows instead. Late spring was when the sky was bluer, East Rock redder and the buildings on Cross Campus somehow beiger. Nights were cool and smelled of rain, and days were warm and smelled of grass. Legs were longer.
So part of my happiness came from the weather. But part of it, too, came from what spring stood for: the end of a semester and the promise of a new one to come. In late spring I could set the present aside and bask momentarily in the endless possibilities I had coming my way. The cramped double I lived in, the weight I had put on, the essay I had hacked my way through — they all became trifling when I considered the apartment I’d score in the fall, the 20 pounds I’d lose over summer and the heartbreaking works of staggering genius I’d write next year. People, I think, are generally happier in the future tense.
On Monday, while we sat on the makeshift balcony, it dawned on me that this is my last spring at Yale. I had seen it coming — it’s been four years in the making — but I was surprised to find myself happy.
At times this year, I’ve played the part of the senior who desperately tries to stave off graduation. It came naturally, given that it’s April and I still don’t have a job, but I can’t say I succeeded in either staving off graduation or persuading myself that I want to. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to fast forward through the next month, but in its own way, this spring is similar to the last three. The principal difference is one of scale: What comes after May is the rest of my life.
I’ve found no good answer as to why we spend four years in college. Four is not a neat number (unlike five), and it’s not three, the number of years most students spend at Cambridge and Oxford. It’s even conspicuously absent from the Fibonacci sequence: one, one, two, three, five …
Still, I think that four is the right number of years: Fewer, and I would resent leaving; more, and I would feel burned out. Despite its wonders, Yale can be a trying place.
This spring, my fourth, will be the last I spend skipping classes, napping on courtyards and playing bocce on the Silliman lawn, but instead of dwelling on these “lasts,” I find myself considering what comes next — and I find myself happy.
Teo Soares is a senior in Silliman College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .