I am leading a FOOT trip. I am doing this to become more attuned to the first-year psyche so that I may better pander to you, our audience. It is just another in a long list of sacrifices I’ve made for the Record, starting when I nailed myself to a cross in preparation for our ill-informed “Crazy About Christ” issue.
In the distance, I see my first-years sprinting towards me. Something is chasing them, but I am not worried. It is a metaphor. They are running from fear. The fear that they will not be “good” enough or “good-looking” enough or “smart” enough or “hot” enough or “sexy” enough. The fear that they will not belong. They are at once running from their past selves and chasing their future selves, who are themselves escaping past iterations and chasing future ones, the perpetual chain of evading and running after that muddles who we are at a given moment, which iteration of ourselves we inhabit.
All of this they say with their eyes. With their mouths, they are saying “bear.” And suddenly I see it. A rabid black bear is chasing them. It is a mirage. The bear is chasing me now and I am just as afraid as they are. It is a metaphor. I realize that two years at Yale have left me with more questions than answers, like “Who am I?” and “Where do I live?” I realize that my first-years aren’t running from the bear. They are running towards me and the answers that I am supposed to have but don’t. The bear was never there at all. It is just me and my first-years running from something we constructed, so I stop and turn around. I explain to them that I am them and they are me. I explain that what they are chasing they will never attain and what I am running from I will never escape, for we are sprinting in equal stride, in a sense one and the same yet irreconcilable, so we might as well stop running and enjoy where we are for a moment. It is beautiful. On our left is a babbling brook and on our right is a big-ass tree.
As we catch our breath, I explain to them that I am their mother, that they are sprinting towards the shelter of my womb in the face of the blinding and sterile light of the future, and that they are in turn my mother, as I constantly run from an artificial origin point in fear of stagnation. I explain that I am their FOOT leader only insofar as they are mine, and that my parents plan to sue the shit out of them when I break my leg on purpose for attention. Most importantly, though, I explain that they are the Editor in Chief of the Yale Record and that I am the editorial of the first-year issue and vice versa. I explain that we have been chasing each other for a long time, though now that we are finally here I am not sure what to say. They ask me if it isn’t a bit contrived to go meta in my first editorial, to which I point out they too have gone meta. They slap me across the face, for I have disrespected the Editor in Chief of the Yale Record. It feels good. It is a metaphor for harsh but just authority.
Finally, I work up the courage to ask them a question that has troubled me for a long time: is comedy just running away from something? Is comedy just running away from ourselves? They consult among themselves for a long time before responding yes, but why should it matter? If we are unhappy with ourselves, why not run away? It is an immature answer that reminds me that while they are all hot as hell, they are also young and dumb as bricks. Looking at them, though,
I feel a deep pang of nostalgia for the iteration of myself that they represent, innocent and curious and sure that comedy will always be enough, so I start to chase them. I am yearning for the past which I chase as if it is the future and they are each running from me, a past-self chasing them for what they know and a future-self chasing them for what they don’t, and all of us are chasing you, because you are our audience and this whole shebang is for you. You being here lets us think we are chasing something and not just escaping ourselves, and for that we love you more than your parents do, probably. None of us have great parents, so it’s hard to say.
Eventually my first-years recede from view and I realize I have lost them, an image of my former self which has faded beyond recognition. I stop and buckle over to vomit. It is a metaphor for me being unathletic. When I finally look up, I am face-to-face with the bear. It has eaten my first-years, but I am not alarmed. My first-years were never here at all. They were a metaphor. It was always just me and the bear. All these images of running and evading were me running circles around its pupils, trying to unspool whatever lay behind. We have been staring at each other for as long as I can remember, waiting for one of us to finally resign and walk defeated back into the darkness of the forest.
Editor in Chief