Yale Daily News
A million little stories lie around my room.
And now it’s time to put them all away. It’s a strange thought, preparing to leave my home of the last nine months, knowing that I’ll never live in the lovely Durfee D entryway again.
Over the course of this year, my room has filled up with an eclectic assortment of items. My desk— in high school, the pinnacle of organization and efficiency— is covered in chaos. The space above my closet, the windowsill and every other crevice has been used as storage space.
And now, as I find myself preparing to clean it all up, I realize that I’ve come to appreciate the clutter. I’ll miss it.
The photos of my high school friends, my family and a few other posters frame my desk and bed. A little metal trinket that I gave my brother for his birthday seven years ago that I stole back from his room at home because I didn’t think he appreciated it enough sits on my desk.
Throughout the year, when I’ve felt lost or unsure of myself, I’ve turned to these things for comfort and a reminder of who I was before Yale. In September and October, this happened nearly every day. As the year went on, once a week. But these constants have been there all year and made this room feel a little bit more like home.
A massive jar half-filled with trail mix sits on a shelf above my desk. I haven’t touched it since I returned to campus after FOOT. But for some reason, I haven’t been able to bring myself to throw out the now frighteningly aged M&M’s and cashews.
Once the year began, the miscellanea began to pile up. I have a copy of the first issue of the Yale Daily News with my name in print. Ditto for The Record. There are a few stickers that clubs offered at the extracurricular bazaar, some from groups that I joined and others from groups I never heard from again.
On the door to my suite, there’s a poster of my smiling face with a series of compliments from the sketch comedy group, Fifth Humor. They made it to let me know I got a callback for a second round of auditions. They cut me, but my suitemates and I have left it up as a reminder that I’m not good enough, not funny enough, not wanted. Have there been times where I’ve hated the reminder of failure as I come home from a long day? Sure, but it’s also been a symbol of home.
There are too many fans lying around, purchased as a panicked response to the oppressive humidity at the start of the year. And then the seasons changed, as evidenced by our panicked purchase of a comical number of lamps.
Joining the trail mix on my shelf, there are all the surgical masks from the worst of COVID-19, forcing flashbacks to isolation housing, meals alone in my room, and avoiding social interaction.
But as winter arrived, there was so much more joy as I began to find a place here. There are sketchbooks filled with stand-up comedy sets, plots for stories I want to write and sticky notes with potential rants to put in WKND.
And then there are the small things that shouldn’t mean so much, but somehow do: mechanical pencils that my friend gave me on my birthday because she was tired of me complaining about how I needed to sharpen my lowly wooden pencils; decor on the walls that we drew together as a suite on a Saturday when it was snowing too much for any of us to venture outside and the hastily-drawn notes on a whiteboard from some friends who visited our suite.
And then, as is necessary for a proper messy desk, on top of all of this clutter, there is the present. There are index cards with deadlines for final papers and exams. Paper assignments and rough drafts are crumpled up once they’re finished. Along with the papers, there are also bountiful amounts of flu medicine and a thermometer stored up from last week.
But now it’s time to clear out the space and relegate most of these memories to a mental folder of freshman year. Some of the objects will almost certainly make it to my room next year: the photos of home and some of the posters, for sure. But some are heading straight to the trash — I’m looking at you, Fifth Humor and FOOT trail mix.
It’s weird to think that the year is over. I was just a nervous incoming first-year yesterday. And now we’re here, one school year later. I don’t know when this room turned from the symbol of unfamiliarity to a place of the utmost comfort.
But as I try to start organizing my things and preparing to vacate this space, it all seems wrong. To throw away these things, even the trash, feels like throwing away memories. And it makes the abstract notion of — hopefully — being a quarter of the way through my college years so much more concrete. I may even consider renting a self storage unit just so I can keep all of these items.
I tried to describe all these feelings to a friend the other day. They didn’t seem to understand. And maybe they’re right. Maybe I’m just getting sentimental because it’s been a good year and I’m trying to cling onto something.
But if you look around your room, you’ll see the stories too. They take different forms, I’m sure. Maybe it’s a lock of hair you accidentally yanked from your head in stress as you grinded away on a pset. Maybe it’s a piece of art you made. Or maybe it’s an empty Cup O’ Noodles you just haven’t thrown away.
But the stories are everywhere. I, for one, am sad to let them go.