Home Alone

“You good?”

“Hmm? Yes! Yes. This week almost got me.”

Eating dinner after the last week of midterms devoured all of the white space in my GCal, I imagine I looked a little worse for wear. My friends gave me sympathetic looks that said “I want to catch up, but you look like you’re astral projecting out of your body. Yup, you’re zoned out.” They weren’t wrong; I was exhausted. Still, once I overate some pasta, took a nap, overate homemade trail mix, and then slept for 13 hours, I remembered: spring break was here! Which meant no more snow! Or at least less snow! Because it was spring! But also two weeks of waking up at noon!

My friends in TD embarked on their own various plans: To travel. To stay. Fly home. Rest. Catch up on work. Binge-watch Netflix. I returned to New Haven from a trip to New York after the first week. After remembering, forgetting, and then remembering again that we were still on break, I realized that my residential college was empty — TD had become a ghost town. The buttery, the library, the TD common room, the courtyard, the entryways — practically vacant. For the most part, I was alone. It felt partly like a fusion of bittersweet relief and lonely wistfulness — but I was excited too! I was going to be just like Kevin McCallister, from Home Alone! Well, sort of like Kevin McCallister! Ten years older! But a similar vibe!

When you stand at the end of one of TD’s lengthy, empty hallways and look out… It’s a little unnerving.

You know that feeling when you’re walking around your home at night? And your footsteps sound like someone else’s footsteps, even though you know you’re alone — and then you’re running, sprinting from your own echo, and the door to your room becomes tape at a finish line. It feels silly, childish, even embarrassing, once you’re in your room — but during those 15 seconds of scampering upstairs? Completely rational and justified. 

The first days of wandering through my nearly empty residential college were admittedly spooky. The round-the-clock din that reverberated through the walls, the metronome-like sound of ping-pong matches, the clinking of silverware in the dining hall — all absent. The college’s typical, reassuring hum was replaced by a calming yet eerie silence. It was relaxing to have a few days just to myself — but also haunting. 

Looking upon an empty buttery… Who is that I see staring straight back at me? When will my reflection show who I am inside? Why did I rewatch Mulan twice during spring break?

However, after I convinced myself that I wasn’t in a horror movie, I thought about the possibilities. Who was to stop me from loudly streaming Janelle Monáe and Mariah Carey? From having milkshakes and curly fries for dinner? From practicing my Migos adlibs (I’m making progress, I can already do “Offset,” “Takeoff,” “skrrt,” “ice,” and “mama” really well) and watching vine compilations? From looking out my window at sunset, pretending I was in a sad, riveting music video? From doing all of that simultaneously?

No one. Absolutely no one. No one could stop me from doing any of that, just like I couldn’t stop myself from being fiscally irresponsible with UberEats. I was too powerful. I was just like Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible, only completely different and the exact opposite in nature and stoppable-ness.

I briefly changed the whiteboard that hangs in TD’s laundry room (whose dryers were empty, for once!) from “You Love” to “Don’t forget to stream Nicki Minaj’s hit single, “Your Love” on Spotify!”

I stayed up until 3am watching anything produced by Shonda Rhimes. I slept in. I did work. I didn’t do work. I looked through pages of Langston Hughes’ poetry. I looked through pages of anthropology readings. I checked my Instagram feed. I had ice cream for breakfast. I napped. I daydreamed.

Yale can move incredibly fast — I’m still in denial about the fact that there’s only five weeks left of classes in my first year. Spring break was a chance to stop being so busy. To be productive (or pretend to be) at my own pace. To look around, and have a Ferris Bueller moment. To fall sleep listening to the If Beale Street Could Talk soundtrack. To breathe. To breathe. To focus on the day, the minute, or the moment before me, without needing to plan for the one that followed.