Let’s rewind back to second semester freshman year. One-eighth of my undergraduate career was behind me, and I lived to tell the tale.
A new semester was beginning, however; and the seasons changed in suit — a wave of unanticipated frigidness encroached upon me.
I don’t mean this metaphorically — it got mad cold.
Before I came to Yale, I was certain that New Haven winters had nothing on me. I was from New York. It gets cold there. Heck, it’s only a little over an hour’s drive away; how much could the weather differ between the two?
Let’s get something straight: Just because I’m from a cold climate doesn’t mean I don’t get cold.
To cope with the weather at the time, I needed a good pair of boots: warm, functional, comfortable. And swanky. (Though swank was a secondary concern).
A pivotal question arose: To Ugg or not to Ugg?
I considered the pros and cons: the relatively high monetary cost; the prevailing negative social attitudes toward the boots; the fact that when I wore them, I felt as though my feet were encased in small, suede covered clouds. But before long, the debate was moot. Wintriness dissipated, and I tabled the decision until the following year.
Or so I thought.
Nearing the conclusion of spring semester and having just completed a delightful lunch, I found myself gadding about the Branford courtyard. During my romp, I decided to take a look into one of the blue bins set out for Spring Salvage.
Partially shrouded by the translucent bag lining the bin, two black suede jobbies coyly peeked out at me from the depths of the heavy duty plastic cylinder. “Snatch us,” they seemed to say. “We’ve been waiting for you.”
The aforementioned pros and cons lingered in my mind with an uncertainty as to whether or not I was, indeed, an Ugg person. But given the opportunity to test the waters free of charge, I was willing to give the boots a fair shake.
Without any qualms, I took the boots. But, because of the warm weather, they remained lonely and unused the entire summer and fall. Finally, this year, my sophomore year, when the temperatures dipped below 30, I busted them out. Since then, I haven’t looked back.
With the onslaught of snow, sleet and wintry mix over the last couple weeks, I was especially appreciative of the donation I received from the size eight kind soul in Branford that fateful afternoon. I was also reminded of how much I love the Eli Exchange.
From a Gap winter jacket to Ugg boots, Lucky brand jeans, Juicy Couture jeans, American Eagle sweaters, Club Monaco sleeveless shirts, Reebok athletic pants and the black BCBG dress that mysteriously fits both me and the girls across the hall, I’ve made some pretty sweet acquisitions through the Exchange. But I understand that for the process to function as intended, I need to spread the joy to others in addition to experiencing it myself. Instead of letting things fester away in the bottom of a drawer, I hit up the Eli Exchange — I hope whoever happened upon my Old Navy jeans, long sleeved shirts and turtleneck sweaters are taking good care of them.
That being said, the Exchange is no free-for-all. For Exchange veterans and virgins alike, there are some caveats worth mentioning.
1. It’s generally not the greatest idea to put underwear in the Eli Exchange. This shouldn’t really need an explanation.
2. Wash before wearing. This also should go without saying.
3. Be careful about wearing too many found T-shirts as pajamas. Wearing numerous T’s that are obviously not yours — from, for example, boarding schools in Connecticut, the Morse 2009 Freshman Olympics, as well as various fraternities — can give off the impression that you have accumulated them as post-coital momentos. Momentos are precious; promiscuity, however, is not.
4. If you meet the person to whom your article of clothing once belonged, don’t stress. Just thank them. This happened to a friend of mine earlier this year after he procured a sweater from the Exchange. He was approached by the former owner in the Morse dining hall who, after inquiring about the sweater, complimented my friend: “I hated it on me, but I love it on you,” he said.
5. Don’t just get some, give some too. Sharing is caring.
When deciding whether or not to discuss this topic, I found myself torn. The more people who know about the Eli Exchange, the more competition for the better finds. By the same logic, more people will participate. More participants means more contributors. This is my hope. Besides, my boots have recently developed a small hole, and we’ve still got some wintry days ahead.
Kristen Ng is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College. Her column runs on alternate Mondays.