Design and prooduction by Robert Samec and Kapp Singer
Love is Found Furniture
Cathryn Seibert, JE ‘22, YH Staff
Plush burnt-orange chair with chrome framing in the corner of my room always creaks the moment I move an inch. I saw it on the street one day, then ran home to have Jarrod carry it back. 6’3’’, lifted over the top of his head like it was nothing. Calls me his “little sister” even though I’m two years older. We walked down the rest of Pine and through the alley, up the stairs into my room, set the chair right where I wanted it.
Rattan folding room divider with arches, dragged behind the sofa: previously behind my bed, another time, in front of my desk. I hung lights on it and made it a real focal point. Mom and dad found it on the curb and drove it home in the truck. It lived on the back porch until I claimed it before my sister could.
Wooden dresser with five slanted drawers and tapered legs, against the wall by my bed, now closer to the window, holding all my black long-sleeved shirts and scarves and sweaters. Dad saw it sitting up the block, in front of our neighbors’ house, the ones who hosted the Spruce Street picnic every year. I don’t know how he brought it back but it is in my room now.
Blue folding table that looks green in certain light, tucked behind my door, sometimes my desk, sometimes Lill’s, sometimes a surface for plant watering or Thanksgiving meals. Summer spotted it underwater when we went tubing in the Little Lehigh. Waded upstream and held onto it floating down, hoisted it through the woods into her minivan. This was right after a storm and we thought it might have blown off someone’s porch into the river. I told Summer she could have it but she insisted it was mine.
All these things of mine that maybe were not supposed to be
All these things I have never had to carry very far
Nyeda Regina Stewart, PC ’22, YH Staff
Looks at me and asks
Why I have
Silenced my heart to only be
Heard in murmurs.
I explain that my tears have amounted to an ocean.
My new blood.
Love listens with pause
Your heart was not meant to be a sewer.
Water is to be drained.
Sarah Marsland, BR ‘22, YH Staff
The first time I fell in love, I was manic. It wasn’t the good, real, solid kind of love that I know about and can appreciate now. But it was still special. I’ve since learned that mania can mimic the process of falling in love—just with the world instead of a person. And sometimes it makes you fall in love with both. For me, this kind of ecstatic love always reared its head in the spring. The first time it happened, I was about to turn seventeen. I was falling in love with a boy with whom I had nothing in common, but who, for whatever reason, came to embody that magic, manic energy for me. That was the year I learned how feverish the long-awaited light of spring can be. When you’re bipolar, the shifting of seasons and the change in light can sometimes feel as though they’re happening inside your own body. That year I felt it 24/7. It was that sensation of going outside in March, when the air is cold and there’s still snow in the Big Y parking lot, but there’s a slight, warm breeze, and the sun is so bright it hurts your eyebrows. The tree branches seemed tinted pink, and like they were straining, reaching beyond themselves. I spent two months walking on air, blasting My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless through my headphones and reveling in the adrenaline of falling for someone without anything to stop me.
Of course, I got my heart broken. And mania turned out not to be all sunlight and roses. But I will always remember that spring as the first time I really trusted someone in a romantic sense. It wasn’t safe, but it was brave. It wasn’t the gold standard of love, or even something I want to over-romanticize, now that I’ve grown up and gotten healthier. But it was vulnerable. And whenever I feel like I’m frozen, and some wall of ice is stopping me from feeling connected to other people and the world, I remember that spring, and it reminds me that I’m not, in fact, loveless.
Wanting a Hen
Audrey Coombe, SY ’24
“As Butler Yeats once said, Love is:
“Wanting a hen / For each of the homies”
Preschool Picnic First Kiss
Isaac Pross, BK ’24, YH Staff
My friend dares me to kiss her. As I do, I burp. She punches me in the stomach. My friend laughs so hard he shits himself. I smell it and throw up. Our parents decide it’s time for us toddlers to go home.
I Fought the Love and the Love Won
Michael Strobl, BR ‘22
When I was in fourth grade, I tried to ignore Valentine’s Day, but it was forced on me. I had just seen Die Hard and First Blood, so I was riding high and felt like the time had come to put away childish things (with the exception of my Spider-Man books, toys, wallpaper, etc.). That included my school’s Valentine’s Day celebration.
Every year, we had to give all our classmates cards and candy. There was one girl in the class I had a crush on, and I was gonna try to slip her a pack of Nerds or something, but I had no interest in this procession beyond that. It felt hollow. Apart from three or four of the kids in the class who I was “eh” on, I already got along with everyone. They didn’t need a piece of cardboard with Simba from The Lion King saying “You make me roar” to know we were on good terms. And, in all fairness, it’s not like I was still expecting people to give me stuff. I didn’t care to participate at all.
But, my teacher caught wind of this scheme and was not having it. She was an ex-nun, which was frightening because she had the same intensity as a regular nun but no God to hold her back. A parent-teacher conference was abruptly called, and an hour later my mom (who did not care about Valentine’s Day at all but did care about me getting in trouble) was purchasing an off-brand-“YOU-ROCK”-next-to-a-picture-of-a-generic-guitar box of Valentine’s cards from Target clearance. I couldn’t even find the Lion King ones.
Things My Valentine and My Job Prospects Have in Common
Nick Abuzalaf, MC ‘21
- Both are very real, I promise
- Both get back to me within 2 to 5 business days
- Both will get me tax benefits (if things go well)
- Both like playing hard to get
- Neither want to hear about the weird rash on my back
- Both are impressed by my resume and would like to schedule a time to connect
- Both want to know where I see myself in five years
- Both should strongly consider me for this position, given my extensive academic background and two years of industry experience uniquely equipping me for the tasks I would be handling
- I would like to kindly ask both to reconsider their decision, as I am confident that I would be a perfect match
- Did I mention my extracurricular leadership experience and my proficiency in PowerPoint and Word?
- Please hire me
Edie Abraham-Macht, BR ‘22, YH Staff
Two days ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of three years, so I don’t feel like writing a love story. Here’s a yoga story instead. I used to be strongly anti-yoga, or at least anti-me-doing-yoga. It seemed to occupy an uncomfortable middle ground between exercise and relaxation: how was I supposed to breathe deeply and achieve self-love while straining in “peaceful warrior,” fixated despite my best efforts on out-bending the expensive-athleisure-clad person next to me? Solo yoga, as it turned out, was the antidote to my cynicism—okay, insecurity. My anxiety’s always nagging, but three days ago, it spiked. I was unfocused, nauseous, constantly unsure of myself and the enormous life decision I was about to make. Despite my yoga aversion, I took a friend’s suggestion, unrolled a borrowed mat on my dorm room floor, and found an online “flow” class that seemed manageably short. I purposefully faced away from my mirror and tried to forget the usual fixations, how much strength and flexibility I’d lost over quarantine. I just listened to the instructions. Almost immediately, I realized that my lungs could hold about three times as much breath as I’d been supplying them. My movements actually started to sync up with my inhales and exhales, the only kind of codependence I’d assumed I wasn’t capable of. During sun salutations, I noticed my feet. My toes were spread wide, anchoring the mat to the ground. I kept looking, and a thought crystallized. I’d been taking what anyone else had to say about my life, twisting it a little, and saying “this is what I want,” instead of digging through the mess and figuring out what was at its center. This was the first time in weeks that I trusted myself, and all I was doing was standing on a mat with my arms above my head. When the class ended, I sat cross-legged and tried not to laugh when I instinctually connected my thumbs and index fingers. That full-body destabilizing feeling, like I was about to have the wind knocked out of me, flooded back—how could it not? I was going to lose someone whom I’d formed my entire self around. But this self—the early-morning yogi I used to hate for no good reason—could take it.
Lakshmi Amin, BR ‘21, YH Staff
According to Co-star, a Libra’s ideal gift is a five-course homemade dinner they can brag about. So, spoiler alert (@my boyfriend), I present my Valentine’s Day menu, curated based on the most impressive meals I’ve singlehandedly whipped up since moving off-campus and being forced to confront my inability to follow basic recipes.
Appetizer – one slice of cinnamon bread, toasted for two minutes, served with a square of unsalted butter.
Soup – a bowl of boiled water with a cube of chicken bouillon, purchased in case of a cold.
Salad – the single stock of green onion wilting at the back of my fridge (that counts, right?)
Entree – a cup of Maggi noodles. yes, they were previously banned in the U.S. for unspecified reasons. no, I do not care.
Dessert – a spoonful of powdered brownie mix, because who has time for ovens?
Horoscope reading for February 14th: Ratatouille the Musical, and I am Remy.
Kyle Mazer, DC ‘22
When I was little, I thought being in love was more or less a pole-vault competition. At the start, you’d be staring down a long open road, a massive pole shaped like cupid’s arrow resting above your shoulder, and the only thing standing between you and the other side would be a bottomless cavern, destined to kill anyone that falls through. The way I saw it, if you could vault yourself across, take that leap of faith and put your all into it, you could make it to the other side and bam, you’d be in love. The funny thing was, I spent almost zero time imagining what that other side looked like, too fearful of the cavern to give it any thought. I am now at an old enough age that if I wanted to, I could write it out in numbers instead of words. I am proud to say I’ve taken that leap, and even prouder to say I’ve fallen into that cavern. I haven’t realized a lot this far in life, but I do know at the very least that the cavern has a bottom, and a cushion, and a staircase that can get me back to the top when I’m ready to jump again. Next time I do, maybe I’ll catch a glimpse of that other side. I’ve heard it’s pretty. I’ve heard it’s harder than this side, but worth it for reasons I won’t know until I know. I guess I’ll just have to hope and see.
Noah Robinson, ES ‘23, YH Staff
Last Valentine’s Day I asked a girl out to dinner. We agreed to delay the excursion itself because it was hard to find time to physically visit a restaurant among all the other things we had to do, and we figured the date itself didn’t matter much anyway. Before I knew it, we had left on spring break. I didn’t realize that the next Valentine’s Day would come before we had a chance to make good on our promise.
We’re together now. We have been for about a year, ever since spring break. A part of me can’t help but feel bitter—robbed that in all that time, I haven’t been able to go on a normal date with her. But then I realize how ridiculous that is. If it weren’t for cancelled summer plans, I never would have been able to live with her throughout July and August. If it weren’t for a semester off campus, we couldn’t have been roommates through September and November. What’s a date compared to cooking dinner together every night?
I thought that I was, in some way, thankful for a deadly pandemic. Thankful that I got to spend time with her. Thankful that we got to spend so many days together. Reflection made me change my perspective. I realized I’m not thankful for the pandemic. I’m thankful to Lisa. And I’m so excited to see her again… on the 15th. I guess we’ll have another delayed Valentine’s to add to the waitlist.
Caramia Putman, BF ’22, YH Staff
under the slightest shift you shaft sparks, rush
like convection currents, palpitations,
and applause. Your molars crack on my ribs.
My scavenger brain hunts to immolate.
The esophagus tumbles in terror
like diving boards and Trampolines.
The person coughing in this hungry house
is you. I’ve locked gazes with these hours;
the unhonest hours pass. Pass hands through
my walls like familiar strangers five times.
We are still strangers. Your clammy hands lie.
I find your ring on the edge of my bathtub.
You ask if you can get it back about an hour later.
And before I let you in again, I put the titanium band in my mouth
and fix your forgetfulness
with a hello kiss.
Desperately seeking to be desperately sought
Luna Garcia, SM ‘23
I am a serial monogamist. I jump from relationship to relationship, from adoration to heartbreak. But now, I’m going on 10 months of being single, which is the longest I’ve been alone since I was fifteen. Without the excitement of dating, I’m just left doing things that don’t matter in a place where no one cares.
This lack of romance has brought me to Tinder. For those who don’t know, Tinder is an app where pretty people lie to you and then ask for sex. Sometimes, this is fun.
Matches come in three distinct categories. There are the Yale kids (subcategories: athletes, WASPs, and New Yorkers who play bass), the influencers (I live in LA, they’re all gorgeous, and none of them are social distancing), and the acquaintances (“hahaha damn its crazy finding u on here, how r u?”). These people are attractive, interesting, and distressingly single. So we flirt. If that goes well, we text.
Finally, they ask: “u wanna link?”
I haven’t seen anyone outside of my household in months. I can’t risk exposing my mother, a transplant survivor, to Covid. LA is the epicenter of the pandemic, in part because the aforementioned influencers are fucking everything up for the rest of us. And this makes it hard for us to, well, fuck.
I tried sexting, but couldn’t get past “What are you wearing right now?” This may be because I’ve been wearing leggings for the past 10 months. This is not sexy and has led to several yeast infection scares. I jokingly told a skater-boy-turned-catalogue-model that I “would be down to have a shotgun wedding,” to which he responded, “Is that a drink?”
This year, Valentine’s Day isn’t as sad as it usually is. I don’t have to pretend like I don’t want to go out for dinner. I don’t have to pretend to be a feminist rejecting the capitalist origins of yet another Hallmark holiday. I remind myself that solitude is not always synonymous with loneliness. And my vibrator is arriving on the thirteenth.
Anastasia Ibrahim, BR ‘23
Valentine’s Day has always been interesting for me—probably because I’ve never had a real valentine. (I always seem to remove any prospective candidates from my life before the holiday comes around—maybe this opens up a greater critique on my commitment issues or unreasonable standards, but I’m trying to stay in the spirit of the holiday here.) But I’m always caught by surprise when it seems that every year, someone swoops in with a grand gesture of love. Take, for example, my ex’s best friend who drove all the way to my house to drop off a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a card. Unfortunately for him, my mom greeted him at the door, and fortunately for me, I wasn’t home, so I didn’t have to suffer from secondhand embarrassment. Another time, a boy who I’d just met twice, shipped me a set of twelve bath bombs, twelve pairs of Valentine’s Day socks, and gold heart-shaped necklaces with the first letter of our names for me and all of my suitemates.
I joke about these peculiar occurrences because I never see them coming. It seems as though the Valentine’s Day love is always completely out of the ordinary. But in light of recent isolation, I think I’m going to flip the script this year. I want to be the distributor of the grand love gestures this time. I don’t know what I exactly have in mind yet, but I want to surprise some worthy people with ballsy love declarations. And maybe they’ll think it’s weird, maybe even uncomfortable. But I distinctly remember that even through the chaos of not knowing what to do with Valentine’s Day fiascos and the emotion that comes with it, I always felt seen and loved. I always felt pleasantly surprised—even if I had some explaining to do after.
By Elliot Lewis, BR ’23, YH Staff
I had my first girlfriend in seventh grade. I’d been tiptoeing around asking her out for several months, and, tired of waiting, she finally asked me herself. We broke up after three days because I was too scared to dance with her at a bar mitzvah. Soon after, she moved away. Years later, we would reconnect, and one night, drunk, we would cuddle, but it would never move beyond cuddling — I was still too scared.
Right before eighth grade, at summer camp, I had my first kiss. I played Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, and I had to kiss the girl who played Sister Sarah Brown. It was her first kiss as well. Though we practiced the scene several times, we refused to try the kiss until a few days before the show, when the director insisted we had delayed it long enough. At the time I’d heard rumors that Sister Sarah was disappointed her first kiss would be with me. Years later, she and I would become good friends. Sometimes, we’d joke about being each other’s first kisses, and we’d laugh. Sometimes, I’d wonder if she was still disappointed.
My first real date would come when I was a senior in high school. We went to a strip club—I wrote about the experience in last year’s Herald Valentine’s Day edition. It wouldn’t be clear this was really a date until a few weeks later, when we’d go on our second date: eating hot dogs and making out in the parking lot of an elementary school. A few months later, we’d each go off to college. I haven’t seen her since. When I look back on all of it now, when I look back on each of my first times, I wonder how much of me is still the person for whom all of this was new.
Genuine Cry for Help (jk) (maybe not)
Adhya Beesam, MY ‘22, YH Staff
Every single love poem I’ve read (mostly against my will), has included some phrase about getting lost in someone’s eyes, gazing deep into someone’s eyes, beholding someone’s beauty through their eyes. I’ve always assumed that I understood the quote because I’ve technically made some form of eye contact with Margot Robbie through the TV while watching “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.” 10/10 would recommend, absolutely life-changing. However, the true emotions evoked by those lines will always elude me, simply because I’d never willingly look someone in the eyes. Never in my life. I’d rather someone invert my pancreas than compete in a staring contest. Making even a second of eye contact will instantly cue up violently sped-up Kahoot music in my mind. In high school, we had to do an assignment where we stared at a partner’s eyes for a full minute (what lesson was that accomplishing), and now I’ll easily be avoiding that dude for the rest of my life. If I look up from something and another human being is looking at me, I regard them fearfully in my peripheral vision until they look away. If someone is listening intently to a story I’m telling and I realize we’ve been making eye contact for a bit, story’s over. Done. I’m already quite a sweaty person and couldn’t possibly spare any more perspiration for a task that terrifying.
Anyways, I’m single for some reason? Idk what that’s about.
Claire Fang, ES ‘23, YH Staff
When I was in California, in the emergency room for a thirty-minute nosebleed, I met a doctor who told me about how she found love. She said that she didn’t try for it; she didn’t register for dating websites, or ask her friends to play matchmaker. Instead, she lived for herself, pursuing her own passions, and all by itself, quite naturally, her partner came into her life. She lived for herself first.
Someone once said to me that you could spend as much time as you wanted with another person—30% of your time, 40%, 60%—but at the end of the day, you spend 100% of your time with yourself. So, you should become the sort of person you could love.
Valentine’s Day is often thought of as a day for couples, but self-love is what sets the foundation for any kind of healthy relationship with another person. Singleness shouldn’t be seen as inferior, but rather as a golden opportunity to find and cultivate the beauty within ourselves.
The Parlement of Lovebirds
Jacob Kaufman-Shalett, BR ’23, YF Staff
There’s something comfortably justified about being alone on Valentine’s this year. No sexiles or third-wheeling, no existential pondering the line between friend and lover (am I even capable of platonic intimacy?) because we are all dispersed across the city and globe, estranged by distance and The Community Compact.
As much as it sucks to feel alone on Valentine’s Day, without much in-person interaction, the odds of mortifying, love-wrought, trust-splintering, college-experience-defining drama is simply less likely to happen. Through Datamatch (a lifeline in 2021), people will scan their screens up and down, reduce each other to blue-lit pixel-porn, look for something to dislike about their algorithmic soulmate—a half-thought they wholly regret—and internally swipe left (and then invite them to connect on LinkedIn).
Where’s the high drama these days?
According to Chaucer (one of the first who drew the dreaded association between romance and February 14), Valentine’s Day is as much a “special day for lovers” as it is about the drama-craving spectators. Take it from me, who just Googled his poem “Parlement of Foules!”
Back in his day (the 14th century), three male birds (hence, lovebirds; it’s a metaphor) would squawk for the hand (or beak) of a chosen female (heteronormative, but like I said: 14th century) on St. Valentine’s Day. They’d each plead their case before a Divine Parliament (headed by Nature), after which the birds of lower estates would chime into the debate. When that inevitably fell apart—partially because of pigeonpeople’s lack of taste, partially due to the lady’s coy indecision—the talons were pointed at ex-lovers and extra-nest affairs. The ladybird would be accused of sleeping with the judge, Nature itself (though according to her latest soliloquy she confessed an unquenchable passion for Suitor #3). There would be blood. Wings would be clipped. And any lone mysterious passerby would watch, tantalized by the lovesick bird chaos that the whole day unleashed.
The meetings just don’t hit the same on Zoom.
Postulates from a Hopeless Romantic
Alexia Bucholz, BR ‘24
My great grandfather titled his will Love And Other Practical Things. While I’ve tried to
emulate his teachings in my own life, I tend to focus on the “love” rather than the “practical.”
My romantic standards border on unrealistic—my great grandparents (affectionately dubbed “Gaga and Popop”) eloped at the age of twenty and remained blissfully married for 82 years. In fact, on my great grandma’s 87th birthday, my Popop wrote that, “I never thought that my feelings for you could be more intense. But I was wrong—Never have I loved you as I do now. You are my todays, tomorrows, my being.”
Next to that, the Dirty Dancing script looked about as romantic as an Ikea furniture manual. Because of the perhaps unrealistic precedent my great grandparents have set, I’ve always been a hopeless romantic (or to the less forgiving crowds, a “simp”). So when I feel myself getting blinded by “new boyfriend goggles,” I try to regain focus by thinking about these three questions:
- How do they treat their Waiters?
- This one’s pretty intuitive. How do they react to being in a position of power?
- How do they treat their Exes?
- More precisely, how do they treat people who they used to love?
- How do they treat their Parent/s? How do they treat those who they love, when sex and sexuality is taken out of the equation (unless you’re Oedipus Rex). As disappointing as it sounds, this may be indicative of how they treat you in later stages of your relationship.
I will readily admit that these are Postulates, not Laws. Crude evaluations at best. But the only time that I chose to forego these rules, I found myself quite disappointed. So I’ll count myself a postulate-abiding citizen in this romantic little universe.
Happy Valentine’s Day to the Fishman from The Shape of Water and No One Else
Maude Lechner, BK ‘24
The Fishman from The Shape of Water already has one thing going for him, which is that he’s not a human man. I’ve known a few human men. Not a fan.
The Fishman is gentle and sweet, and he likes hard-boiled eggs, which means we already have one thing in common. I don’t think the Fishman has ever tried egg salad, but I bet he’d like it. (I am very good at making egg salad.) Unless fishmen are allergic to mayonnaise.
One time the Fishman made a balding guy’s hairline grow back, and I think that’s pretty neat.
Lastly, when you look at the Fishman, well, you can’t deny he’s one hot fish, and that’s
because the bar for fish beauty standards is pretty damn low. Find me another fish with a six-pack and a stellar ass. I’ll wait.
Jesse Goodman, BK ‘23
For one weekend every summer, my family and I travel to Philadelphia to see my grandparents. They live in a small apartment, elegantly furnished, the walls covered with paintings and prints collected over half a century of marriage. Last summer I started to notice that my grandparents rarely ever see each other. My grandpa spends the majority of every day in his study, watching the news. My grandma is usually out of the house, shopping or going on walks. They eat at different times and sleep at different times. One day I asked grandma whether she still felt in love. She smiled and took my hand. “More than ever,” she said.
How does love persist when everything else falls away? Where does it live, when there is no more touch, or sex, no more meals eaten together; when you only see your husband for a few minutes a day?
I used to be baffled by it. But in writing this blurb, I struck upon a theory.
After 50+ years of life spent hand-in-hand, my grandparents’ love has transmuted. It no longer lives within them; instead, they’ve come to live within it. It’s woven into the fabric of the life they made together. It’s the leftover piece of my meatloaf she leaves in the fridge for him, so he won’t get hungry at night. It’s the way he says her name– “Joan”– so tenderly, like a kiss. It’s the paintings hanging on the walls of their home, which they picked out together. But more than anything, it’s their children and their grandchildren– the living embodiments of their love.
No wonder my grandparents are more in love than ever. Like kindling in a fire, the more they bring into their world, the brighter their love burns.
Chega de Saudade
Josie Steuer Ingall, TD ‘24, YH Staff
I am living by myself for the first time and I am lonely. It gets darker here than I’m used to, and much quieter. I hear my neighbors through the walls and convince myself that there’s someone in my closet, so I wear the same clothes for three days. I marvel at the sudden suburbanness of my surroundings, at empty skylines and too-narrow sidewalks and single-family houses. When I catch corner-of-my-eye glimpses of former classmates through res college gates, or the too-big gym windows of gentrifier apartment complexes, I fix my gaze straight ahead. I can’t stop thinking about money, and I feel a sneering, vicious envy of anyone whose parents pay their rent.
I am acutely aware of how here I am, of the suddenness with which my life became contained within one room, one city, one self. Last year, when I lived in the dorms, I took the Metro North home nearly every weekend. I had doctors’ appointments and band gigs and clothing swaps to attend.
I don’t have those things anymore. My apartment in New Haven came fully furnished, filled with books I haven’t read and tchotchkes picked up on trips I didn’t take. On five-minute breaks between Zoom calls, I wander from room to room and idly inventory the things that are mine.
Tonight, the snow is coming down in sheets. I go out into the blizzard wearing a tank top and basketball shorts and dial Moses’s number with frostbitten fingers. He arrives fifteen minutes after I call—two minutes longer than the Google Maps estimate, which we attribute to the time it took to button a parka, conduct a futile search for snow boots, and lace up soon-to-be-soaked sneakers.
I go from frozen to melted. His sneakers are drying by the radiator. The closet is just a closet.
Hughes Place might not feel like home yet, but that’s fine. Home is Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi, home is bossa nova standards arranged for flute and guitar, home is well-intentioned haircuts in too-dim lighting. Platitudes and prosaicisms, places and people.
Brittany Menjivar, ES ’22
In September 2020, I went on my first socially distanced date. Midway through our dinner, the guy asked, “Do you mind if I go to the bathroom?” I told him to go right ahead—but he didn’t stand up just yet. Instead, he told me that all the men in his family had a history of kidney stones—really, even his uncle who went to Vietnam got them and swore that the pain was worse than being shot—and he lived in constant fear of finding himself with the same affliction. As a preventative measure, he drank at least a gallon of water per day. This meant that he sometimes found himself peeing in less than ideal situations—e.g., the time he had to crack open his friend’s car door to do his business while they sped down the 405. It wasn’t until he shared this “fun fact” with me that his face went red. “I’m sorry… here we are on a date, and I’m talking about my bladder.” I told him I appreciated his honesty, and we went for desserts.
A couple months later, I had just picked up a pork bun when a dude with purple hair asked me if I wanted him to get me a chicken sandwich. I wasn’t hungry at the moment, but I said yes, because why not? When he brought it to me, I gave him my number. That night, we texted for hours.
I’ve always been drawn to horror stories because they (the best ones, anyway) explore the upending of conventions in crisis. Dire circumstances tend to strip away social strictures; under duress, people feel more free to act without restraint or fear. For years, scary movies and suspense novels have allowed us to imagine how we ourselves might behave in such scenarios—but now, we no longer have to make-believe. We are living in an era when the stakes really are “life-and-death”—and we are slowly beginning to ask why we’ve convinced ourselves to spend our fleeting years on this planet constructing perfect plastic personas and trying to place first in the “I don’t care” Olympics. Slowly, we are admitting that we are actually human and coming to terms with that reality.
Just do it, kid. Talk to that person in your section; shoot your crush a text. Mortality is fragile, and so are the frameworks we’ve built to uphold the towers of “normalcy.” We are all reaching into the same void.
Macrina Wang, ES ‘22, YH Staff
I envy babies. Babies are so universally loved even though they are objectively stupid. Put a math problem (ANY math problem) in front of them and ask them to solve it, and six times out of five they’ll get the wrong answer. When I was a baby I was the most loved I’d ever been, although the consensus was that I, at six months old, looked like my sixty-year-old grandpa (aberrant tufts of hair, raisiny).
Maybe babies are the wrong scapegoat here. Maybe people just need to love me more? Still figuring this last bit out.
Leila Eloise, SY ’22
I’ll find myself sitting on my palms. As I attempt to assuage text-eager fingertips, hungry for their presence, my hands grow idle. First idle, then numb. I don’t know what affection is if not all-consuming because what is love if not deliciously tragic?
There’s a specific delight to offering up yourself to another person.
Because I don’t know how to love if not with everything because I don’t know a love that doesn’t demand all of me. All my parts yearning for unison with all of theirs. I don’t know how to move through love in my twenties without wanting the object of my adoration to become my twenties.
This makes loving hard. It’s draining to attempt to give love when you have none left for yourself; you don’t offer what you can’t afford. Maybe in my thirties I’ll have the sort of wisdom that only comes with age. But, for now, it’ll be increasingly difficult to love anyone at all.
The First-Year Situationship
Olivia O’Connor, JE ‘24
Situationship. Noun. A relationship that exists in the uncomfortable space separating “just friends” and Insta-official. Spending the better part of your waking hours on FaceTime with someone you’re not really in a relationship with. That guy your suitemate stays up one too many nights watching Econ lectures with for her to keep calling him her “friend.”
This year’s unprecedented housing situation due to Covid-19 regulations led more first-years than ever to find themselves in relationship limbo. Given one shining semester on campus before being exiled to their hometowns for a span of ten months — or to Old Campus under tighter-than-ever restrictions — you could say the Class of 2024 is unlucky in love.
Finding love in this day and age is already harder than ever, but meeting your soulmate while in quarantine? Statistically impossible. Hey freshmen, want to date someone outside your residential college? Forget it! Want your friends to set you up with someone nice? No First Year Formal for you! Getting desperate enough to place your faith in the numbers? The only thing Datamatch can give you this year is Snackpass credit and a spicier way to get Zoom fatigue.
Those who did find sparks during those first fleeting months are now faced with hundreds of miles in distance — not exactly ideal conditions for fanning a spark into a flame. The progression of even the most compatible couples has been interrupted, put on indefinite pause. The result? A second epidemic — of half-baked relationships, of first-years desperately trying to turn four-month-long friendships into something more.
Maybe someday we’ll find true love. But this Valentine’s Day, at least, most of us will be curling up under the covers in our childhood bedrooms and Netflix-partying a movie with someone a thousand miles away, whom we hope we might go out with sophomore year.
AC Christakis, PC ’23
“So what are we?” asked the small face on my phone, as I sat against the lockers during free period.
“Umm…” I paused. What did she think we were? What’s the word for two weeks of texting and three FaceTimes, all stemming from two days of messaging on an underage Tinder account I made to see if I “really was gay”?
“So you’re my girlfriend, we’re girlfriends,” she cut in. My stomach lurched. I had come out to my parents one month before, and now I had a girlfriend? This is what I had been yearning for all of high school while I watched my friends fall for crusty Seattle stoner boys. I was checking off boxes: Come out, check! Have a girlfriend, check! Fall in love, in progress?
“Okay yeah. Girlfriends,” I agreed, pushing down the voice inside of me saying, “You literally have never met.” Students started pouring out of the classrooms around me, providing me with an escape. “Looks like I gotta go!” An escape from my new girlfriend. Totally normal, right?
Two days later, our faces met again on Facetime. “I don’t know why people make such a big deal out of saying ‘I love you’! It’s like, why wait to say it?” she said, looking at me expectantly. I thought it was a big deal. I looked back at her. Well, this was a little bit ahead of schedule… but this is what I wanted, wasn’t it?
Everything that was supposed to be happening, was. It was just happening over the course of two weeks, without having met, as opposed to…. whatever a normal relationship timeline is. So of course, we did keep dating for three more months, and I did in fact say I love you back, but after an acceptable four weeks. What can I say, when you’re young, queer, and yearning, all of the red flags look green; you just want to be loved.
Finding the Right Words
Q.T. Elizabeth Van Ha, BF ’22
I thought living away from my residential college friends would be a nice change of pace.But the distance has made me realize just how much their physical presence enriched my life on campus. Now I can’t casually show up unannounced to lie on their beds and discuss the trials and tribulations of the day. Instead, my friendships with my former suitemates and neighbors exist only on Zoom, where we work together to solve the New York Times crossword puzzles. Every day, a “xword?” text and Zoom link appear in my messages, and we’re suddenly talking over each other, laughing, learning and forgetting that “asp” is the snake responsible for Cleopatra’s death. Three months and two subscriptions later, we’ve managed to maintain a 23-day streak. In a time where all of us find forging new relationships quite challenging, these Zooms have allowed us to reconnect with words and each other.
Quarantine Love Story
Mina Caraccio, BK ‘23, YH Staff
If you ask me now, I can tell you with zero ambiguity that I’m in a relationship. But for a significant portion of fall semester, the question would have likely provoked a cascade of hot sweats and an epic word vomit that sounded something like “I don’t know” colliding with “I hope so.”
When quarantining within a small pod sequestered away from the rest of the world, labels no longer claim any relevance — love can organically take shape without the external world imposing a definition. Despite all the assurances I made to my parents when I first signed up to live with a suite of all guys, it turns out there really is a fine line between suitemate and sweetheart.
For several months, our nameless relationship consisted of stealing kisses under stars, tiptoeing around suitemates that politely pretended they didn’t already know everything, and sharing music and intimate conversation on endless highways bookended by glorious rock formations. I found myself falling into an intense love — quickly, breathlessly, namelessly — untethered to time or the perceptions of the rest of the world. It was beautiful. It was exhilarating. It was confusing as hell.
He told me he loved me six days before our pod was dispersing and he was heading back across the country. The intensity of our feelings was undeniable and all-encompassing. But I didn’t know if they were intended to last beyond the week. It wasn’t until we encountered a friend from outside our pod that our bubble of romantic ambiguity was popped, and we clarified to the world that we were dating.
Nearly six months later, we’re living together at Yale. Things are much less ambiguous, but no less intense or beautiful. Now, we’re stealing kisses behind camera-off Zoom screens, no longer tiptoeing around suitemates that probably wish we were, salsa dancing in the common room, and enjoying conversations on the endless tunnel walk from North court to South court. We’re no longer living an end-of-the-world romance, but a Yale quarantine love story.
Besties with Benefits
Avik Sarkar, DC ’23, YH Staff
What’s the difference between romantic partners and friends who have sex? I’ve asked friends who fall all over the romantic spectrum: single, taken, or anywhere in-between. While Vivian says there’s no difference, my suitemates beg to differ. Dan says relationships require more commitment than friendships, and Salomé adds that they entail more intimacy as well. Their answers make sense and feel right, but I still wonder: aren’t we committed to our friends? And aren’t we intimate with them, too?
My friends from home have a slightly different take. Rebecca says, “Romance is made up, because people do romantic things for their friends all the time.” For Nilu, however, “romantic love equals having sex with your bestie.” Rebecca asks how that’s different from friends with benefits, to which Cordiana responds, “Commitment issues.” Her answer hits home. I think of the friendships with benefits that didn’t grow into romantic relationships—even if I wished they had.
I’m farther from a satisfactory answer than I was when I started asking the question. And of course, the question has its own limitations, the most obvious being that not every romantic relationship involves sex. What still strikes me about this question, though, is the range of answers that it provokes. Maybe romance is different—and special—precisely because there’s no one way of defining it. Or maybe we’ve just been taught to value love and romance, whatever they might mean, more than sex and friendship.
Fear of the Dark
Hamzah Jhaveri, TC ’23, YH Staff
It’s like daylight in here,
he said when he walked in
my room a few minutes past
midnight. I’d never thought of
my constellation of lamps
as anything but artificial. They
were useless lights for when
I needed to dig away at my
skin, but something about
his smile picked up in their
bright yellow shadows.
Still, it wasn’t enough, or
perhaps too much. I offed two,
embarrassed my facade was
found out, even highlighted.
He never saw, though, and
under the glow of the last lamp,
I fell asleep in the corner of
my bed, impenetrably obscure.
Rachel Calcott, BR ‘22 YH Staff
I once tried to bake a red velvet cake for someone I love. And by “bake” I mean that I poured a synthetic red mix into a bowl, cracked an egg, added a cup of water, and stirred rigorously. After putting the resulting sludge in the oven, I wandered off to wait the recommended thirty minutes. I returned when the smoke seeping out of the oven reached my bedroom. Opening the oven door, I found red goo pouring drool-like down the sides of the tin and pooling on the floor—a Rocky Horror parody of the birthday gift I had intended.
I’m a bad cook. I burn, spoil, under- or over-cook in the time it takes a normal person to pop up toast. But this year I’ve found myself gravitating toward the kitchen. The kitchen soaks up the sounds and small moments of life. Nora’s favorite Ani DiFranco album is playing. Nash’s snow boots have spread size nine water puddles across the floor. Hero’s Frida Kahlo magnet has been manipulated into a physically impossible pose on the fridge door. The potted plants that Branson and I bought over the summer lie in various stages of decay on the windowsill. Thao the cat has curled up somewhere she’s not supposed to.
There’s a good chance that I, like many women, have cultivated a crabby dislike of the kitchen as a defense against a possible future of housewifery—one complete with aprons and a despairing shoot-me smile. But that anxiety is hard to keep up. These days I’m happy to bake scones and burn cakes with my housemates, savoring the queer rituals of a domesticity we’ve made for ourselves.
Alaman Diadhiou, BF ’23
A house is not a home
When there’s no one there
To hold you tight.
Even Luther’s tongue was
painted by that which it carried.
How does “our house is burning”
dance on your taste buds?
Does the smoke spew as far
inward as it billows out?
I can’t cure the asphyx.
Will you stay black-tongued
and hold me and learn my
love language? Fussin’ and lovin’ are
the same, after all. Be my home
in this burning mansion and
choke out only the best in me;
the inferno can have the rest.
Letter to my friend “Richard”
Noa Rosinplotz, ES ’23
If you haven’t met Richard, I’m sorry for you. I met Richard under very lucky circumstances (first week at Yale) and after meeting him, I became even luckier (first week of Yale, friend of Richard). Richard knows a weird amount about buildings in New Haven, fruit desserts, and cars. He lives in a magical world where you can walk to the beach and up mountains and through forests, all on the same hike. (For some reason, his world is three hours behind.) I wish I could see things like cups and belts the way he can, but I’m grateful that sometimes he shows me. I don’t listen to all the music he sends me, but he’s nice about it. He cooks using dried and not canned beans, which is indicative of grit and dedication, and he listens to podcasts while skiing, which is indicative of bravery. I hope you actually read this stuff, Richard, or else you’re a fraud! Regardless, I’ll get to the point: it’s been spring and summer and fall and winter since we last saw each other in person, love is usually fake, words are meaningless, and the world is ending, but I luv Richard. <3