There’s something in the air of my common room past midnight on a school night that causes me and my friends to have some of the best conversations we’ve ever had. I can picture it now: three of us on the brown couch, one in the red chair, someone sitting on the floor “doing work” on the coffee table. Then, one of us asks “Can I get your opinion on something?” or says “Today, in Race, Politics and the Law…” or considers something as open-ended and random as “Is Yale a myth?”
And so it starts...
I love these conversations. Most times they don't have a conclusion, and to be honest, they often get us to disagree.
If the air is right, our conversations can get very political. One night, it might be about the current immigration crisis. We talk about how kids are being held in cages at the Mexican border and that some think these terrible conditions may be enough to call the detention centers concentration camps. We spend hours trying to come up with the solution to racial inequality or thinking about who should have the right to vote and what voting age is best. We talk about the strategies used by the most famous, or infamous, politicians and since I am Cuban, Castro always finds its way in.
These times feel like the brainstorming central for a major revolution. It feels as if we are discussing the next item on our agenda in our plans to change the world.
Other nights, the air in my common room makes our conversation run personal. We talk about the topics that really matter to us and the secrets that we are scared to share with others. We let the facade of the composed, overcommitted, overachiever Yalie fall away and allow ourselves to say that we are not okay and that we want to cry. We recognize that we don’t really know what we want to do for the rest of our lives. We admit to the pressure we feel about being caught at the crossroads of following our dreams and pursuing upward social mobility. Someone talks about how hard it is to be away from home. Another says they are dealing with imposter’s syndrome. We give and receive advice about friendships and love. We share our struggles and our fears, our dreams, and our hopes, without pressures or expectations.
Sometimes, it’s not always that deep. My common room can also transform into a very silly place after a certain time of the night. Sometimes you’ll find us watching cartoons, jamming to kids’ songs, and remembering what life looked like before having responsibilities. Other nights, it’s just us, laughing for absolutely no reason, like, no reason at all, but laughing so hard that our stomachs hurt. These silly or silent interactions mean so much because they allow us to just be.
These cathartic moments happen past midnight when we are tired and sleepy (and still have readings to do), but there’s something in the air of my common room late at night that makes me feel like it is all going to be okay. And the best part is that if we have something to say, we can just say it, and if not, then we can just laugh.