46 Years Ago, I Left Yale for J.D. Salinger—This Fall, I’m Returning

Joyce Maynard in Vogue:

In the fall of 1971, I set out from the small New Hampshire town where I’d spent the first 17 years of my life and rode a Greyhound bus to New Haven. I had a trunk of clothes, a portable stereo housed in a red Samsonite suitcase, and a couple dozen vinyl albums—Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, the Rolling Stones—that I hauled up three flights of stairs to a fourth-floor dormitory room. Yale had gone coed two years before, but ours was the first class in which women would complete the full four years.

Most did. I didn’t.

I had a million plans that fall. I was going to study art—but I also wanted to learn about history, political science, poetry, film animation. I was going to act in plays and join a dance class. I would make friends with whom I’d stay up late talking about music and movies. Weekends, I’d visit New York City—the place I hoped one day to live. Somewhere in there, though not close to the top of my list, I figured I’d do a little writing, having published work in Seventeen.

I spent only one year as a student at Yale. The spring of my freshman year, an essay I wrote appeared as a cover story in The New York Times Magazine. In a world before the Internet, that article (“An 18-Year-Old Looks Back on Life”—the irony of the title escaped me at the time) propelled me into a public sphere I could not have envisioned.

More here.