Based on the New York Times’ “Metropolitan Diaries,” the Middletown Diaries will include awkward, funny, novel, or sweet anecdotes, stories, or memories that happen at Wesleyan and in Middletown. To submit to the Middletown Diaries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
People always talk about how it is important to enjoy life’s small moments. I agree, until I find myself frowning skeptically at yet another Instagram story screaming at me to enjoy the little things when I’m preoccupied with the bigger picture.
However, there is one thing that makes the world pause for thirty minutes: a good sunset. The softness of the light sourcing from the warm tones of the sky contrasts with the cool blue of the crawling night and the November chill. Amongst big worries, small things, and the busyness of my schedule, I walked to Indian Hill. Suddenly Middletown’s lights were bustling below the quiet graveyard. And I simply was there too. Take care. Watch a sunset.
Why am I compelled by this campus to drink coffee? Whenever I meet with friends, or go in for a meeting in Pi or Espwesso, I hear them speaking a foreign language that I will never speak. Words like “espresso” or “dark roast” or “cappuccino” flow from their mouths effortlessly. And when it’s my time to state my order, I lower my voice in shame.
“Just a small hot chocolate, please,” I whisper.
Usually they respond with, “Just a small?”
And I am forced to admit, in front of everybody, “Yes, just a small.” My WesID is swiped and I walk away, feeling my friends’ stares at me.
Don’t get me wrong. I feel lucky that I don’t have a caffeine addiction. The only time I actually attempt to drink real coffee is during midterms and finals season, when it’s of undying importance for the sake of my grades that I stay up and complete my writing. However, multiple semesters of this late-night coffee ritual have created a Pavlovian response in my body. Now, regardless of the time in the semester, when I drink coffee, I feel stressed and compelled to sit at my laptop and write. It is a powerful, special thing.
But it means that I don’t feel comfortable drinking coffee casually, the way my friends do, laughing as they sip their perfectly created lattes. When I ask for the “small hot chocolate,” or even when I’m feeling adventurous and go for the “Salty Ivan,” my friends look at me like I time-traveled back to middle school.
But so what? I like warmed milk with chocolate mixed in it. If middle schoolers enjoy that too, so be it. Hot chocolate drinkers need to band together, the way that coffee drinkers have. If pumpkin spice lattes can create a cult of worship, hot cocoa deserves the same level of respect.
They also ask me if I would like whipped cream. I always respond yes. Why would I deny myself heaven? Why would I repress pure joy? Everyone deserves to enjoy whatever it is that gets them through the day. Even if it doesn’t include caffeine.
It was Saturday night of Halloweekend, and I was weary. Creatively drained and caked in swan make-up, I was happy to be done with spooky season. I came home early that Saturday, around midnight, intent on going to bed at a reasonable hour. Ah, sleep. My favorite. But my room was a mess, littered with outfit rejects, the ghosts of costumes unworn, and I needed to decompress.
So before heading up to my room, I sat with my housemate on our front stoop, doing nothing, you know? Located right smack in the center of Fountain, our house functions, to me, as a force of reason in a sea of chaos, a spa in a nightclub. Waves of witches and superheroes and aggressively iconic television characters floated by and we savored the scene, the fresh air, the snippets of conversation. From behind our imagined screen, the brouhaha could be appreciated for the spectacle that it was, and we were safe. That is, until we weren’t.
Soon, a group of young men—to call them boys might suggest that their transgressions should be excused by a certain freshman naiveté, which they should not—sauntered down the street from the north, boisterous in style and volume. Outfitted in Hawaiian shirts (surfers, I guessed), they approached our stoop with a little too much swagger for my taste. And I have good taste. Then, one of the leaders, equipped with a plastic ukulele, did the unthinkable. Literally unthinkable!
Imagine this: My housemate and I are seated four steps up from the sidewalk. The man with the ukulele stops right in front of our house, approximately four feet from our faces, frozen in anticipation. Without looking at us, he holds the ukulele high above his head, and then, with all his strength, he throws it down on the sidewalk and bits of plastic fly in every direction. I am shocked; he is oblivious. The body of the plastic instrument is still intact, until he STOMPS on it, and the rest, too, is shattered.
“Um…EXCUSE ME?” I yell to the man who cannot be more than three feet away from me. “We live here! This is our house! Why would you do that?”
But the imaginary screen separating my house from the chaos surrounding was apparently not-so-imaginary, and the man—the entire group of men, that is—fully ignored me. Unsettled, I probed further:
“Who do you think has to clean that up?” I asked. My logistical pleas went unanswered, and as they moved farther and farther from my sight and voice, I gave up my appeal to logic, and simply yelled loud enough for them to hear.
“That is SO rude,” I shouted, adding meagerly as they disappeared down the road, “Not nice at all…”
But they were already gone. We sat there, stunned, staring down at the bits and pieces of plastic splayed before us, littering our stoop.