Valerie Pavilonis

Of course, there will be none of the usual festivities this Valentine’s Day: no a cappella performances, Valentoads trips or romantic candlelit dinners. But here at WKND, we hope to use Feb. 14 to celebrate love in all its forms. Or perhaps, more realistically, to eat some chocolate alone in our dorm rooms. To make your Valentine’s Day just a little bit less like every other day, we have compiled stories about love from alumni and current Yalies alike. 

 

On Valentine’s Day weekend 2008 (my freshman year), after failing to find true love at Silliman’s V-Day speed dating event, my friends convinced me to make the trek to a party at the illustrious Adelphic Literary Society. As I stepped down into the hazy, dank basement, a tan, baby-faced lacrosse player emerged from behind the Gatorade cooler wearing a yellow polo shirt, which was, unbeknownst to me, a form of “peacocking.” Though Baby Face caught my eye, his much paler, steely blue-eyed teammate asked me to be his beer pong partner before I had a chance to introduce myself. I thought love was lost. However, the second event of that night’s ADPhi olympics was flip cup and fate stationed Baby Face directly across from me at the bar.

Our eyes locked as we clinked cups and a lifelong game of friendly competition was on. I carried our team in the next round of beer pong before friends dragged me away from the fête. Though we missed each other at Toad’s that night, we became friends on Facebook the next morning (note: who friended who first is still hotly debated). One slurpy-souped lunch date in Commons and many flirty study sessions in LC later, John and I officially became an item. We’ve been teammates ever since, together for 13 years and married for nearly seven. While hard to believe, we’re living proof that you can find more than tetanus in the ADPhi basement.

– Tara Falcone ’11

 

I still remember waking up in my room in Davenport on Valentine’s Day, looking out the living room window and seeing a gigantic heart and my initial M made out of computer paper strips on the roof of Cottage below me. It was done in the middle of the night by Peter Schmeisser (who was a YDN editor, by the way). He was perched on the roof with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot he had “borrowed” from his roommate. He died tragically a few years after we graduated, but he lit up my time at Yale from the first days of freshman year. That gesture was entirely typical of him. 

– Meredith Hyde ’87

 

The words “I love you” always flowed freely in my family. They were associated closely with “good night,” similarly appearing day after day, month after month and year after year for my entire life. “I love you” was certain, but common, and not saying it was more of a statement than saying it.

But the free feeling of those words changed when I was in college. I was stunned when my best friend said, so matter-of-factly, “I love you.” Very self-consciously, I said it back.

Still, I naturally said “I love you” in my infrequent FaceTimes with my family members. But nearly three weeks into 2020, those “I love you”s became “I love you, and I’m always here if you need to talk,” and even, “Dad loved you,” as my aunts said to my mother.

Nine months later, on my birthday, I received a phone call from my other grandfather. He was in a hospital bed, his chin unshaven, his strong lecturing voice weak and thin. Suddenly, it felt imperative that he should know I loved him. I could barely get the words out before FaceTime sent me back to my tabs.

Then my father, within a few blood oxygen percentage points of his life, pushed out the words “I love you.” And, if few others, he kept those words flowing on that manipulated air until he could walk again, until he was back at work, until I returned to the far away where I used to reserve those words, where I found out that printing more of them couldn’t cheapen my need to say them.

– Giovanna Truong ’23

 

As a first year entering the dangerous world of romance at Yale, there are certain individuals who you should avoid becoming entangled with. This list would ideally include anybody within your residential college, classes, friend group or FroCo group. The consequences of breaking this rule are disastrous, and the fallout is inevitably messy.

During my first semester at Yale, I did not pursue somebody with one of these qualities. Nope. In the spirit of a true ambitious Yalie, I found myself chasing after somebody that fit into every single one of those categories. 

I definitely didn’t plan for this to happen. One second I was spending time in his room “to study,” and the next second we were holding hands in IKEA. Then we were carving a pumpkin, going on late night walks and spending every waking moment together. It was an exhilarating, blissful, perfect recipe for disaster. Like all attractive men with potential, he possessed a lovely set of commitment issues. Things quickly fell apart. 

This new tension was felt by our many mutual friends during a month filled with mixed-signals, passive-aggressiveness and the classic silent treatment. Group interactions became unbearable because of our refusal to speak with one another. The chaos nearly fractured our friend group, but we managed to resolve the conflict after many heart-to-hearts and interventions. Now, at the start of a new semester, we’re just friends … I think?

– Aislinn Kinsella ’24

 

It would have been pretty easy to pretend it was just another Friday night had it not been for the fondue bar in the Davenport dining hall. But chocolate is never easy to ignore, especially on Valentine’s Day. I checked my phone, even though I knew that I would have felt it buzz if she had texted. Five minutes before the dining hall was supposed to close, she walked in, her face flushed from the fast walk in the cold air. “Hi,” she said. “I’m going to get food.” I followed her into the kitchen. About to close, there was barely anything out other than scrambled eggs and lukewarm soup. It was anti-romantic — not in the anti-capitalist-anti-gender-roles-love-yourself-every-day kind of way, but in the hair-in-your-minestrone-soup kind of way. “Can we just leave?” “Want to get something else to eat?” I almost wanted to go somewhere nice, but she said, “GHeav?” and I nodded.

With our snacks in our hands, we returned to our common room. We talked about her recent break-up as I ate the chocolate kisses I had taken with me from the dining hall. Eventually it got late, and she left to go into her room, but I sat for a little while longer. I was glad that we had ended up at GHeav and not anywhere fancier. I think I had confused romance with love.

Laura Michael ’20

 

When I was a sophomore, I took introductory Latin and sat near a guy with whom I occasionally chatted. Shortly before Valentine’s Day, he asked whether I preferred carnations or roses and what kind of candy I liked. I thought he was joking and told him I wasn’t much of a candy eater, but that I, of course, favored roses. When I returned to my room after classes on Valentine’s Day, my roommate eagerly greeted me. “Go look on your desk!” she said. There were a dozen long-stemmed red roses. 

One of my roommate’s male friends, whom I also knew from the Yale Daily News, laughed. “Boy, are you in trouble!” he said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Do you know how much that costs?” he said. “No guy sends long-stemmed roses without expecting something in return.”

Alas, the poor fellow in question got nothing. Although I appreciated the gift, I’m ashamed to say that I never gave him a chance. Instead, that spring I got involved with an upperclassman who ended up having a long career in Congress. It didn’t end well — the relationship that is, not his career.

The person I fell in love with, at long last? The guy who made the snide joke about the flowers. He’s sent me roses on more than one occasion, and I guess he feels that he’s gotten enough in return: next month, we will be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary.

– Laurel Graeber ’76

 

GIOVANNA TRUONG
Giovanna Truong is a staff illustrator for the Yale Daily News. She previously covered the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as a staff reporter. She is a sophomore in Pauli Murray College majoring in physics.
AISLINN KINSELLA