I’ve always resented the 305 Crown Street stairwell for its ten-degree temperature difference from the rest of the building. Heading to production most Thursdays, I hustle up the stairs as I unzip my jacket and trip over my own two feet in the process, seeking the eroded handrail for some grounding.
My first ascent of these steps was in the early days of September, when the heat felt more suffocating than ever. I shouldn’t entirely blame the stairwell. The anxiety which attended something I had written being published was just as suffocating. I had never written anything for this many people to read, let alone enjoy. Alas, the “college is the time to try new things” doctrine infected me. And so I climbed the stairs.
Approaching the beige door, marked by a folded-over piece of letter paper that read “The Yale Herald,” I allowed myself one more deep breath before turning the knob. Instantly, my senses were overloaded—collages of old issues gave life to the walls as Bowie playing off of someone’s phone speaker melted into the sounds of keystrokes coming off of twentie laptops. The ratio of people to chairs was (and continues to be) confounding.
That night, I happened to be the only writer there. A part of me felt that I owed my editors an in-person explanation for the 50 comments I left on my own article, which read “bad,” “wc,” “revise,” or (one I continue to use frequently) “write better.” Not having met anyone there before, I timidly asked busy people if they were the Features editors, hoping I hadn’t already tarnished my reputation from the five minutes I spent looking like a lost puppy.
For the next hour, I sat on a table staring at my laptop as a herd of editors’ names became colors all over my Google Doc, making my inability to use commas more obvious than ever. Yet the smiles and laughter I noticed among the room stole my attention. Since coming to college, I had not felt as instantaneous a sense of comfort as I did in the office that night. I’d never written, but they made me feel like a writer.
The following week, the issue that had my feature on the cover was added to the collection of pages on the walls. 305 Crown now held a little piece of my Herald history too.
The Herald office became the setting of my first semester. Even if I wasn’t physically present, I constantly thought about the doodles on the walls, the miscellaneous snacks on the table, or the archive hidden in the back room’s filing cabinets. I have never finished an article prior to a production meeting starting, though as the semester progressed, these people who I now call friends continued to harp on my word choice and make aggressive use of Google Docs’ commenting feature.
The Herald office is the first place I gained confidence in my ability to pick apart the English language and glue it back together to articulate the way I think. To think in a few weeks it could be stripped of its character to become a cream-colored storage unit breaks my heart, not only for our existing Herald community, but also for the future first years looking to find their voice as they stumble up the sweltering stairwell.
After all, two flights of stairs and a little bit of healthy perspiration are a recipe for creativity. Who are we to deny future generations?