Dear Mom,

Welcome to Yale. Is it everything you hoped it would be? Does Family Weekend match your expectations of the ceremonious decorum of Yale? Did you leave the Yale Bookstore with your arms laden under the weight of brown paper bags stuffed to the point of bursting with sweatshirts, mugs and magnets? I hope so. I hope that it lives up to your expectations.

You arrived after a red-eye flight from Alaska with vision blurred by the lack of sleep and coffee — cream and sugar, please — coursing through your veins. La Vie en Rose, but instead of looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, you see the crisp 6 a.m. New Haven landscape through the kaleidoscope of caffeine and sleep deprivation. I hope that the blurriness doesn’t distort your view too much.

Now that I’m at college, your world is so separate from mine. You’re emblematic of my hometown, my high school, my childhood and it’s so foreign to see that converge with my life now. How did you get here again? Are you sure you took a plane and didn’t materialize from a figment of my memory? It’s like a tear in the space-time continuum. Since you dropped me off, I’ve been suspended in a bubble of timeless academia. Do I look older? I feel older. It’s been a long six weeks. I feel like I’ve seen, met, heard and learned more in that month and a half than I had in the whole 18 years prior. It’s so comforting to see that you haven’t aged a day. You’re still wearing the sweater I used to borrow every chance I could, and your hair is the same length as the last time I saw you.

Do I look changed, wizened? Am I playing my part well? You were there during callbacks. You saw me get cast in this role as Yale Student 57. And I’m no actor. But I think I’ve done a good job memorizing my lines and stage cues. I’ve shown you my dorm, my college, the libraries; we even saw Handsome Dan himself. I stood by as you took photos of things you probably weren’t supposed to. I indulged your desire to do the things we probably weren’t supposed to, and the things we were. We ate in the dining hall and listened to a cappella, the “Yale” things. Don’t you think it’s weird that my life has become a tourist attraction? My seemingly mundane routine is suddenly fascinating and otherworldly, especially to you, who knew me before I assumed this role.

I’ll play the part, but you won’t see the behind-the-scenes action. Please don’t come into my suite, or, as someone so kindly called it the other day, my “raccoon lair.” I don’t need you to see the dust bunnies that lurk in the darkest corners of my freshman dorm, and frankly, I don’t think you would want to see them either. You won’t see the late nights in Bass, studying until 2 a.m. The laundry that I’ve been neglecting to do for a week and a half. The empty cup of noodles. The coffee stains and water rings on the table. I’m sorry about that one; I forgot to bring coasters.

I hate to break it to you, but we put up a bit of a facade. At least I do. Family Weekend is a bit of an act, and I don’t just mean the ones put on by the Yale Symphony Orchestra and the a capella groups. Not everything here is grand. I may claim to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil, but I assure you: I do. But that’s okay. We’re just people, Yale Student 1 to 57. We were all cast in the role that we’re now living in. You live in my head under the veiled illusion of childhood and I exist in your mind through the lens of academia and libraries. Don’t worry, I’m glad you came. I’m glad you made the journey. I’m happy that you got to see me fulfilling this role. It’s fun to play the part of Rory Gilmore for a few days. I’m sure I’ll do the same when I come home for Christmas break.