Sonia Ruiz

The sky was so dark that it soaked up the stars. I padded my way across the golf course, hoping that no one was playing a round in the dark. A golf ball to the head would no doubt be disastrous, but I wondered if I was at risk of any bone-breaking.

I turned my eyes to the heavens trying to pick out the stars before they sunk entirely behind the veil of night. The only constellation I could make out clearly was Orion. The trifecta of Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka on his belt made him easy to spot, and unlike usual, I could make out his bow and the arm that reached for it.

As a first year, I never went to bed without checking for the stars. I would roam Old Campus, head thrown back, longing for validation that there are things that are clear and sharp. New Haven, known for being cloudy during the day, is also cloudy at night. Most nights the skies were covered in maroon-grey clouds. Some nights, even the moon was a challenge to spot. And most of the time, stargazing was like being under a breaking surf of clouds.

I took a left at hole nine and somehow ended up near hole five. A vague hunger drew me to the shops on Park Street, which from the darkness of the golf course appeared as a blurry white strip. A few minutes of walking later I emerged onto the sidewalk. Though I blended in just fine, my musing made me feel out of place. Everyone else was here to think about food and fun and wine. These things would not fill me up.

As a first year I longed for a lot. I longed for love or loss, the emotional richness that I had denied myself before coming out. Nothing felt sharp, just an ever growing desire, a desire that grew insatiable the longer I staved it off.

As I walked down Park Street, I took in the sights. There were marble fountains and brick roads. Ferns crawled away from shop facades and shadowy oaks rose out of side alleys. In contrast to the well curated mannequins in the still-lit store fronts. But the flora here weren’t wild, they only looked wild enough to make the street look less like plastic.

Upon walking into BurgerFi, I was immediately confounded by the fluorescent menu and branded burgers. Everything here was fat, bleeding with excess. I didn’t fit in, not because I had been raised on a healthy diet of vegetables and dhal, but because I wasn’t really here out of hunger.

I finally settled on the onion rings because they smelled the most like grease. Just having them was satisfying enough: to be in possession of them, of something that smelled so satisfying.

What I found in the reality of emotional richness at Yale, I found the opposite in terms of reality. Everyone here is kind — too kind to be honest — too okay to be hurt, too privileged to be in touch or too occupied with surviving.

The buzzer snapped me back into the restaurant. I grabbed my prize, head out the door and took my place on a bench where I began to eat. The onion rings were wholly unsatisfying. The grease, which had attracted me to them in the first place, is what made them noxious. The oil started to give me a stomach ache, the onions were too hard to bite through and the ketchup ended up all over my fingers — a dangerous prospect considering I was eating in the dark.

I gave up halfway through the regular size, tossed the bag into the trash and made my way back to the dark comfort of the golf course.

This piece is the first in a series describing the writer’s emotional experience at Yale.

Frankie | .