Clarissa Tan

I think everyone remembers their first night after move-in, unsure of whether to run around old campus with those new friends from your froco group (but you’re so tired), toss and turn in your twin XL bed (can’t sleep), or knock on your suitemate’s door (they seem really nice!). At least that’s how it went for me. Thankfully, her door was already open and I didn’t have much decision to make in the matter to forgo going to the bathroom to brush my teeth; I was called in and promptly took a seat on the pink plush carpet, a position that I would soon become well acquainted with. That night I got to know one of my suitemates, and a few people who didn’t actually live in my suite, but in a purely technical sense. Some weeks it seemed as if they did. But that was only the first of many nights sharing secrets with these people who quickly shed the title of strangers.

Nearly everyone who knew all five members of my first-year suite was somewhat surprised at how well we co-existed. First, let me set the scene: the basement of Vanderbilt hall with its low ceilings and white washed walls. What we lacked in sunlight trying to trickle its way in through the overgrown window wells was made up for in floor space, an extra couch and an aesthetic that can only be described as confusing. We had a poster of Ravi and Ms. Kipling from the Disney channel show “Jessie” with the line from Kendrick’s King’s Dead (“I took her to my penthouse and I freaked it”), a wall of wavy mirrors, the iconic “For God, for Country, and for Yale” flag, a disco ball, as well as a basketball hoop duct taped to the wall and a can of spaghetti-os to hold the door open. We would lovingly say: “it’s not a frat house, it’s a frat home.”

And now that the scene is set, I present a very pared down exposé of each member. The girl I met the first night: hailing from a part of Maryland that is “geographically the Northeast but culturally the south,” inhabitant of the cleanest and coziest room I’ve seen at Yale, a good bit of a TikTok following (that doesn’t inflate her ego), a proud owner of all things light pink and a buddhist who loves a party. Then there’s the art major at the end of the hall. She’s from Los Angeles and blonde, but her paintings express exponentially much more depth of character than you might assume from that first description. She was late for Italian three out of five days a week for two semesters, and agonized over the exams but inevitably passed with flying colors. I believe our sleep schedules were nearly perfectly opposite, and I’ll never understand how she would suddenly decide to go to the library to study just as I was getting ready for bed.

Now some suites, as I’m sure many come to find out, have that one person who just doesn’t associate with the rest. We had that suitemate. The most I really know is that she’s from New York City. I think the furthest we ever got in a conversation was “how was your day?” “good” but that’s fine. It’s not that she was rude either, the suite was just more of a functional place of sleep than a buzzing social meetup for her. But because of this indisputable fact of unsociableness, I unfortunately lack further data on this particular suitemate.

The only double in our suite belonged to my roommate and I, a pairing that I’m unsure would have crossed paths if we hadn’t been blindly matched. She’s the most fashionable engineering major I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, coming from London and making up the international demographic in our geographically diverse suite. Which brings us to myself: redhead from an island in Alaska (cue response: Alaska? Cool, my parents took me on a cruise there when I was 8), an Environmental Studies-English double major, a lover of both high heels and rubber boots. And of course there were numerous platonic and romantic friends that became honorary suitemates of the Vandy basement due to how often they frequented our common room. I was more surprised to come home to empty couches than I was the time I received a FaceTime call from my friend sitting alone inside our common room, asking where we were.

As you’ve probably gathered, there wasn’t a lot in common between any of us, except for the fact that it somehow just worked. Our suite didn’t become one independently homogeneous friend group, we all sustained our exterior friends, but that never dissuaded us from spending time with each other. We struck upon the balance of having friends outside of your suite, but being friends with the people in your suite. I’m glad: we’re going to be suitemates again this year (minus the one, plus a few new additions), and I suppose only time will tell where second year takes us.