When I started university, my first lecturer pronounced to the class that we had found our best men and bridesmaids in those sitting next to us. He said it with such strength I didn’t believe him. Now final year is nearly done. I’m torn between hugging the Romanesque pillars in front square or seizing books in the history library to cry into their wonderful yellowed pages. I can’t soak it in enough. The grass is dewy, the mornings are brightened with a hub of promise and I get closer and closer to the end. Everything feels like a moment. Like the tangy sadness of a final album.
I’ve been given the same privilege as Edmund Burke and Mary Robinson. I’ve feasted on the memories of O’Connell and Tone. Trembled with the wonder of classicalism. Felt trapped in Renaissance portraiture. Pursed my lips at the power of a Patrick Geoghegan lecture at 9am. Padded out of Front Square at 3am more alive than I can articulate. Spent hours on Dublin bus waiting for my eyes to interlock with those black gates entwining a special world in between. Waited on the printer to encase my essay in delicious post production reality. Felt stupidly alone in the arts block. Felt alone everywhere. Spent aeons of time on level three sitting on the mossy green carpet. Enjoyed that perfect moment entering college in the quiet of morning when it was just me for a split second in the stillness.
There were no doors – just wide open spaces with no one saying you can’t.
It is hard to say how Trinity has changed me. In my graduation speech for secondary school, I wrote about how we were leaving those blue doors behind us. In Trinity there were no doors – just wide open spaces with no one saying you can’t. It has felt like every email could take you somewhere and inch open that mind of yours if you wanted. I’ll miss that feeling of spontaneously emailing yes to everything. The language in those emails propelled you explore something new. Terms like “mentor”, “leader” and “volunteer” really caught my attention. All it took was a yes and you became a better version of yourself in two seconds. I think of the hard work and the long summers waiting on September to come around. Then All-Ireland Sunday would swing around and the city would welcome me back with the electricity of possibility. Dublin has been like an old friend that I’ll always want to learn more about.
However, for me, it’s all been about the people. The eyes and minds of everyone I’ve gotten close to have offered a tropical mindscape within the heavy concrete structure that college can be. I’ll miss seeing them every day. Trinity has been ours for four years and now it is time to hand it over. We were always on borrowed time. I wonder if Trinity has absorbed any of us in return? Maybe it has or maybe it will jest with some in the future when those awful college profiles are compiled for staid broadcasters or politicians trying to be appealing, saying they smoked a joint on campus.
Yet we don’t need this “remembrance”. We should be ready to use our departing memories as a springboard for all those dreams we’ve put off since we got tangled up in education. We will leave college with something so fragile and new: our potential. So don’t wait until tomorrow, don’t please your mother and don’t waste your promise. Those cobbled stones are a carpet to somewhere incredible.