November 1966. It would have been about 5 p.m. But already it was dark and getting cold, and the walk down Science Hill from the chemistry lab seemed long. There were few people around. Those cold, dark late afternoons, and being on my own, made me feel like a small boy before the enormity of the world. How could I make a mark, when I am so small and it is so vast and barren?
I wasn’t used to feeling so alone. I had grown up surrounded by family and friends. I had two parents and two siblings, two grandparents on each side, 22 aunts and uncles and 21 first cousins. We all lived in Brooklyn and saw each other frequently. And I had plenty of friends from the Baby Boom-packed public schools I attended. Solitary moments were few.
On those walks back from the chem lab I felt completely alone. And the darkness and cold invited melancholy. The same walk in October or April was often pleasant, with the leaves turning in the fall and the trees greening in the spring. In February, it was simply miserable.
But in November—and especially that November, my first away from home—that walk made me think of who I was. Life was not going to be all strawberries and cream. There would be hard moments and doubt, inevitably death would come to people I loved.
Ahead were the lights of the Yale campus. Fellowship. Growth. Wins and losses. The future.
– Don Davis