HOLMES: Incubating boiled eggs

commencement
Photo by Annelisa Leinbach.

This column was published as part of the special Commencement Issue for the Class of 2014.

I remember roofs. I remember roofs with rain and roofs with boys, roofs with friends and roofs with strangers. I remember the muted glow and criss-crossed walkways of Old Campus from the top of Harkness. I remember the cool breeze and the dark, amorphous expanse of the Long Island Sound melting into the night sky.

I remember a twenty-person polar bear plunge off Long Wharf on the first midnight of December.

I remember teaming up with my roommate to deliver chocolate and two bouquets of flowers to our suitemate within 15 minutes of her break-up with her long-term boyfriend, and I remember her teary-eyed incredulity nearly outweighing her dejection.

I remember soft afternoon sun illuminating the corners of the Stacks like golden exhales of breath.

I remember the Stacks for other reasons, as well.

I remember writing seminars and workshop drafts, and I remember my English homework leading me to skydiving and pole dancing.

I remember carefully clipping out the first piece I ever published in the News.

I remember loathing every hour I was forced to spend with STATA. Those were easily my least favorite hours at Yale. Word of advice: avoid STATA.

I remember exciting weekend updates and sensational suite gossip at what must have been well over a hundred Sunday brunches.

I remember testing the strength of my suitemates’ friendship with home videos featuring me and my cousins competing in Dorky Dance-Offs, decked out in braces, suspenders, high-waisted shorts, and headgear (fancy orthodontic accoutrement). We’re still friends; the miracle continues.

I remember the Harkness Bells… waking me up from afternoon naps.

I remember sitting on a bench in Kroon, telling a boy why I felt he’d disrespected me and feeling a new sense of empowerment. I remember wishing that all of us had these sorts of conversations more often.

I remember sitting in Woolsey during Bulldog Days and trying to convince two other prefrosh that I was incubating the (boiled) egg I somehow still had from Commons earlier that day. I’m now good friends with one of these guys, and he only recently revealed to me that he actually believed me about the egg for a second. I’m not tight with the other guy, and I’m pretty sure he thought I was actually hatching a chick in my purse. Maybe he’s still embarrassed about it and that’s why we’re not friends. Who knows?

I don’t particularly remember freshman year.

I remember lying on my back near the top of East Rock midway into a midnight run. We were a group of perspiring night owls, our work and worries far, far away, and I remember seeing my first shooting star.

I remember knowing nobody and feeling unbearably awkward at my first club soccer practice at Yale. I remember representing Team Sanitary Napkin at our intra-team Olympics two years later, and I remember giving our initiation speech in September, standing on a couch, the room lit only by candles, a big Yale blanket draped over my head.

I remember gaining weight every single spring at Yale. Why, dining hall, why?

I remember sitting on Old Campus junior year when one of my close friends told me about being molested as a child, and having no idea what to say.

I remember hometowns on FOOT and society bios, and I remember feeling in awe of the self-charted and often fortuitous nature of so many people’s paths to Yale. It’s the type of awe that never goes away.

I remember suite photo shoots. A lot of suite photo shoots.

I remember sinking into an armchair in Master Bradley’s office, where she listened as I mused and mulled and mumbled about the future. I remember how she told me that she just couldn’t picture me in the very particular sorts of lifestyles that come with certain careers, and I remember wanting to just sit there and eat chocolate and absorb her words for the whole evening.

I remember exchanging Snapchats with one of my suitemate’s parents, a habit that will not be ending with graduation.

I remember admiring seniors as a freshman, and admiring freshmen as a senior.

I remember once eating such a sugar-soaked Sunday Sundae at family dinner in Branford that I started to bounce up and down in my seat, prompting my suitemate to dare me to sprint three laps around the dining hall. Upon finishing my laps, the entire dining hall applauded, and I thought to myself — this is home.

I remember my body convulsing into half-laughter-half-tears when my computer screen erupted into a singing bulldog over four years ago.
But I don’t remember having any idea why tears were spurting down my normally stoic Yankee cheeks. There’s no way I would have known then, but when I soon find myself walking away from Yale, half-laughing-half-crying, I’ll remember, and I’ll know why.

TAO TAO HOLMES is a senior in Branford College. She was a columnist for the News.

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