After three years here, I’ve decided February is the worst month. Spring semester is always less fun than the fall, and I don’t do dining hall coffee. I also think that the best way to spend a free afternoon on campus is to go on a walk, preferably longer than 45 minutes. Sometimes with company, sometimes alone, never following a predetermined path. I prefer to wander.
But this winter, it’s been too cold to wander. I don’t want to walk or move or communicate beyond iMessages and Snapchats. I understand that most people reading this are likely aware of the weather: the cancelled events and classes, the biweekly blizzards, the cold-flu things going around. These are probably more newsworthy inconveniences than my inability to walk in circles for fun, but wandering is my emotional homework.
My oldest friend calls me a nomad, which makes sense considering the way I grew up. I spent 17 years hopscotching the East Coast: Virginia to the Boston suburbs to South Florida. Then Connecticut. Halfway through Yale, I transferred from Berkeley to JE.
I often dismiss my nomadism as a side effect of being an extrovert. I joke that it’s because I’m a child of divorce. Or because I’m biracial. A therapist once suggested that it’s a way for me to keep the constant movement of my past in the present. I remember hugging a pillow when she said this. But I fancy myself too young to seriously consider commitment issues. I’d rather complain about the cold.
As a little kid in Virginia, a small flurry was a huge deal. Schools would grant half-days so parents could get their kids at lunchtime. The D.C. metropolitan area lacked adequate snow plows, and the roads turned miserable before the ice melted the next day. I didn’t have a white Christmas until I was nine, visiting my grandfather in western Massachusetts. I looked out the window of his living room as a blizzard passed through the Berkshires.
When I began college, I decided that New England’s seasons were precisely what I needed. Leaves! Mittens! Cute boots! I was sick of afternoons waiting for my Florida town’s trolley on hot grass outside my school, ants crawling up my ankles, praying for a change in our uniform policy that would legalize khaki shorts. I was sick of central air conditioning so potent that you had to carry a thick sweater to the mall in mid-July. I hated the South Florida staleness, how so few people I knew were proud to be from the place where we lived.
I always feel like everyone in Miami is from somewhere else, which is true for most immigrant cities. For that reason, I often joke that Miami isn’t a real place. I remember choosing Yale because it felt real and grounding.
But belonging to a place like Yale is hard. It’s a real place that comes with real stress, hardship, trauma, breakups and Elm Street traffic. To get by here, you often burn yourself out until you realize that you need to cut down on all-nighters and double-shot lattes.
I slept through my 10:30 lecture this morning. When I woke up, I considered getting upset with myself. Then I saw that it was 12 degrees outside.
Lately, to stay inside, I make fewer runs to Blue State. Instead, I sit in my room and try to organize my life. I color code my Google Calendar. Sometimes I even plan my outfits. Other times, I sleep until 1 p.m. on a Thursday. The cold has made me spend more time still.
I am settling into a life here. I don’t need to grab a meal with everyone who laughs at my jokes because I already know people who like me. I don’t need to try so hard anymore. I don’t need to push myself. While relieving, it reinforces the impermanence of my time at Yale. There are few beginnings left for me.
Maybe this is what I was supposed to always do. I was always supposed to settle into this campus, settle into a routine of oatmeal breakfasts and group texts. I was always supposed to turn this place into a home, despite my impulse to the contrary, despite the feeling in the back of my mind that the only way to make Yale my own was to know as much of it as I could.
Nowadays, I fantasize about April: It’s a golden afternoon, and I’m lying out on Cross Campus, looking collegiate. I might be sleep-deprived, but whatever. Later on, I’ll consider a walk down Hillhouse or Whitney. I’ll take off my shoes. There might even be ants, but for the while, I’ll stay still.
Adriana Miele is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.