Your Yale Happy Place


Today is my undergraduate graduation.
Due to a lack of sentimentality about the recent past, I’m not there.  While I was kind of anticipating doing some minor celebrating at home, Mom’s felt quite sick the past three days, so we’re going a lot of chilling around here.

I’ve never been one for celebrating milestones, and it’s not likely that I would suddenly become a big people person and want to hug and kiss everyone I hardly spent time with the past few years. But of course there will be people I miss very much. Many of them.

But the whole graduation thing? It’s too much attention, too much tradition, too many speeches and lectures and too formal.  Besides, I’m thoroughly enjoying being with my pets, in my own bed, with healthy vegan food, a garden to tend, and books to read.

But in honor of this symbolic last day at Yale (though my last day was actually a week or two ago, when I took my History of Music Final) I wanted to compile a list of all of the quiet places I liked visiting most.

  1. The Farnam Gardens Observatory Swing
    First place goes to the Farnam Gardens Observatory Swing and it’s tree, which was cut down just a few days after I left campus for the last time.  It’s up on Science Hill, maybe twenty minutes’ walk from my dorm.  The swing is (was) one of those wood ones and it’s attached to the branch of a very tall tree.  The swing’s rope length is so great that it’s pretty much impossible to get any real swinging in, the circle radius is so big. But it’s very pleasant for just sitting and contemplating and being pensive while swaying slightly.
  2. The other swing set by Yale Health
    A block from Yale Health is this small park that has a playground and swing set.  I personally find swinging very cathartic, so I used to go over every once in a while, even when it was quite cold.  In fact, it’s best to go when it is quite cold, or at night, because then you avoided little kids looking at you like you’re a weirdo.
  3. Suicide Ledges
    We started calling them this in freshman year and I apologize for the callousness.  Yale has a lot of dorm windows that lead to dormers or flat places that are most certainly not designed to be balconies but are surreptitiously used as such anyway. Have I ever done this? What? No, no no never. Definitely not at 1 am in a bra at a party either.  I think they got wise to this because in my most recent dorm the balcony windows were nailed nearly shut so we could only lift them a very little. Put a big cramp in my ventilation style. Especially when we were trying to dry out the room after the radiator burst.
  4. Grove Street Cemetery
    The cemetery has a huge stone entryway that has inscribed something like “THE DEAD SHALL RISE” but inside there are lots of long lanes and beautiful plants- magnolia, forsythia, hyacinth in spring and bright leaf colors in the fall. The lanes have loves names like Laurel Rd and Magnolia Ave. It’s always very quiet and perfect for a nice solitary walk.  If you’re into thermodynamics, the great Gibbs is buried here.  Lots of names from buildings around Yale’s campus can also be found.
  5. Davenport Cupola Thing
    There’s a small place in my residential college, I would call it a bell tower but there is no bell, so let’s call it a cupola.  You can climb up into this small dark crawl space and then up further through ladders to this lit area that looks out over the court and the street outside. It’s very tight but also a lovely place to go up with someone for a short time.  Also funny to see all of the coffee cups and bottles and scribblings other people have left behind.
  6. The Buddhist Meditation Room
    I only discovered this one my senior year. It’s in Branford, so very close to my own residential college. Harkness Tower is Yale’s big bell tower, located in a corner of Branford, and the first floor is this very quiet but beautiful meditation room where there are guided meditations on Thursday nights. There’s incense and lots of pillows and mats to sit on.  Really lovely.
  7. The roof of Broadway Rehearsal Lofts
    I hate Trailblazer. Trailblazer is a store on Elm Street that occupies the first floor of Broadway Rehearsal Lofts and, because they complained about the noise from the dance and singing groups, Broadway Rehearsal Lofts can essentially no longer be used as a practice space.  This happened right before my sophomore year, so I had a full two semesters of going to BRL for ballroom Latin lessons.  If you went up through the ladder and hatch in the corner of the boys’ bathroom you could get up onto the roof.
  8. Crawl Space is Sterling Chemistry Labs
    There’s probably a weird crawl space in every Yale building, but because I’m a Chemistry major I spent the most time in SCL and the most time exploring the tunnel to it’s furnace and that weird attic-type room through the tiny door.

I think that’s everything.  The private dining rooms that you use for special functions or small seminars are also lovely, but not so much hiding places because you can only get in if you have a key and are scheduled to be there. Which kind of ruins the whole ‘covert’ thing.

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