Keyi Cui

What strikes me most about suburbia each time I go home for break is the uninterrupted sprawls of green. In New Haven, nature is contained, closed off in courtyards or small patches of trees on the sidewalk. Each observation I have of my hometown is like this: measured up against my existence at Yale.

This break was my first extended period of time at home after leaving for college, the first time my mind was set to wander, free from the constraints of work or classes. And it was full of confusing, contradictory feelings. I felt at once relaxed and agitated in my leisurely state, nostalgic and bitter towards the mundanity of my small town. There was a certain comfort in returning there, doing the same things, seeing the same people, but it was also deeply unsettling.

Conversations with friends fell into routine cadences, sparked with the same inside jokes and references to people we had known our whole lives. And yet, there was a new separation, a discomfort when we realized we don’t share all of the same experiences anymore. I loved seeing the people I grew up with, but if we steered too much into talk about college, conversation got slightly strained. There is a new, mostly unconscious competition between us. Who has the most interesting friends, tells the funniest anecdotes, is having the best time? Despite these completely different lives we now lead, upon closer glance, everyone seemed mostly the same. Attempts at reinventing oneself immediately in college are not usually carried out, I don’t think. Maybe it’s a slower progression, or going home just temporarily unravels the progress.

Somehow I felt as though I was constantly moving and working all break, but my FitBit and to-do list begged to differ. I felt like I had been bluebooking since the day of my last final, but the unmanageable number of courses on CourseTable I planned to shop hardly dwindled. In fact, I think it somehow went up. Another number that went up, further undermining this notion of productivity, was the number of Gilmore Girls episodes I mindlessly consumed, despite having seen them too many times already. Rory never had problems with productivity, but she also kind of sucked as a person, so maybe it cancels out.

Truly the oddest part of break was just considering the two different existences I now have, my two different “normals.” It’s easy to get preoccupied by all that is Yale in the midst of the semester, but at home, when I have more time to reflect, it’s harder to just flick off the “school” button and on the “home.” I can try to fall into the automatic movements and mentalities of home life, but it just doesn’t feel the same anymore. And, really, it probably shouldn’t.

Georgia Michelman | georgia.michelman@yale.edu .