If you’ve met me, you probably know that I cry a lot. Most times, it’s a single tear shed while reading the ending of a book or the finale of a movie. When my suitemates lovingly make fun of me, I cry a bit to play along. But you’ll rarely find me genuinely crying, tears streaming down my face and — dare I say — snot dripping from my nose. My real sobs are reserved for the people and things in my life that I love and deeply care about, for the truly bitter moments that strike below the surface of my heart. And if I can help it, I never let anyone see the real tears. If you have, welcome to the inner circle.
One of many places I’ve cried at Yale is my bedroom within my suite. You’d think this would be the optimal place to let loose and break down, but that’s hardly the case. If you live in a double, you have to take some things into consideration: “What if my roommate comes in? What if I just want to be alone? Do I lock the door?” And then there’s also the issue of the thin doors. Not walls — doors. Over this past year, I’ve learned that the doors between bedrooms and common rooms in Vanderbilt Hall are not soundproof in the slightest. You can hear music, conversations, and every ounce of hysterical crying. So, if you think that you can cry in peace in your bedroom, think again. Unless you turn on some heavy metal or blast some Adele, your secret meltdown will be privy to all.
Consider your significant other’s room. It’s a safe space to unburden your emotions … on second thought, maybe not. Scratch this idea. I can neither confirm nor deny whether I’ve tried this option.
Crying in your own common room, or even someone else’s, is always a recipe for disaster. Don’t even bother trying to use this space as a haven — your meltdown will be witnessed by all, especially if you live in a first-floor suite. Then again, if you’re crying in your common room, you’re likely crying with other people about something that’s happened. It would be notably better to prevent or ward off situations like these for everyone’s mental health and happiness.
If you require a breath of fresh air to cry, you’re in luck. Yale has paved many of the streets around Cross Campus for pedestrian use only, something I’ve definitely taken advantage of during my time there. The recently finished Alexander Walk — the Wall St. strip from the Humanities Quadrangle to College St. — has proven a delightful path for a tearful stroll. I’ve enjoyed waking up early, getting a coffee, and traversing the paved walkway with teary eyes. Crying down Alexander Walk and taking a turn onto Cross Campus early in the morning is the perfect way to be seen by everyone and recognized by no one. Doing this feels somewhat straight out of a movie: imagine the main character walking around in the rain, a hood pulled over their head, with sad and angsty music playing in the background. With paved pedestrian walkways across Yale, just imagine — you too can be this main character.
If you’re more of an ambulatory crier like I am, you might want to try Prospect St. as a path in which you can freely cry without judgment. The walk from the Yale Divinity School back to Old Campus — about 25 minutes in length — is perfect. It’s downhill, so you don’t have to worry about exerting anything other than your emotional inventory. It’s long enough that by the time you return to campus, your tears are mostly dried and your mind mostly clear. And you’re unlikely to run into anyone you know so long as you’re not walking in the middle of the day.
And then there is the ever-so-public Commons: the place to be after class if the dining halls are closed or if you’re simply craving darn-good food. It’s also not a bad place to be if you’re looking for a good cry — alone or with someone else. I, myself, have weeped at the high-top tables towards the back in front of my best friend. The wonderful thing about breaking down in such a large and crowded space is just that: it’s large and crowded. There are so many people in Commons that one teary-eyed person easily slips through the cracks. This is not to say that there aren’t risks involved, as it’s certainly possible that someone you know will recognize you sitting there. You just have to hope that they leave you be. Otherwise, you have to be prepared to wipe away those tears with lightning speed. If you’re looking for a nearby, more private option, though, the nap pods in the Good Life Center are a nice retreat. It’s so dark in there, so if you’re a silent sobber, no one will be the wiser. And the pods themself are so cozy — I took the most refreshing nap there on my twentieth birthday.
If your Tour de Yale brings you to Old Campus, the Vanderbilt Courtyard is a very picturesque place to shed a tear or two. It’s a little public, considering the benches face the entrance, but nobody is bound to ask questions.
Just across the street is Branford. The basement is winding and confusing enough that you can openly cry without running into many others. The Branford library is also a prime spot for a good sob session — I can think of two occasions in the past year when this place was my refuge. There is an unspoken rule in the Branford library — or any residential college library, for that matter — that no two people or groups can take up a room. Once you’ve secured a nook, you’re all set to let loose and cry.
Wherever you like to cry at Yale, I hope it’s a place where you find peace. There are endless places to shed your tears, both on and off campus, where I hope no one will judge you. Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with having a good cry every so often. Whether you want to be alone, surrounded by strangers, or with the people you love, there is a place for you. If you need more inspiration, don’t feel ashamed to join the Facebook group Yale Places I’ve Cried.
I don’t truly cry often, but when I do, I want to feel comfortable. For me, this usually means being alone in a place where I can savor the surroundings and solace. So, tell me, where at Yale are you going to cry next?