A letter to my brother

As one student settles in to city living, she writes a letter to a sibling that she has not quite forgotten

Illustration: Sarah Larragy

A letter to… My Brother

Do you remember when we came up to Dublin last year for the open day? It must have been your idea. I didn’t need to be persuaded by Trinity, even then, perhaps you did, perhaps you do. Regardless, I was obviously as delighted at a day away from the Leaving Cert.

My first impressions of the college had come from dog-eared prospectuses, and I remember the physicality of the place taking me by surprise. This overwhelmingly respectable institution snuggled into the capital, one with countless medals of excellence pinned to its pretty stone breast. You’re more discerning than me, less likely to be guided by some inexpressible feeling in your chest and, while I twirled in awe in Front Square, I remember you commenting on the layout of the college, the ‘visually damp’ Arts Block and the statues with their strangely frightening eyes. We giggled for so long in front of the George Salmon one, I remember nearly falling to the floor with laughter but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what it was that we found so funny. I smile every time I pass him.

I’ve been here nearly seven weeks now and I cannot tell you how much I miss you. Goodness though little-bro, Trinity is wonderful. I want to tell you about all the small things here, all the things that have built Trinity for me. The things whose force I could feel as soon as I walked towards and through that Front Arch last year. I could feel it all wrapping around me, the atmosphere of the place.

One of the flower stalls on Grafton street sells pure white tulips for three euro. It’s part of my walk every day and I’m going to buy myself some tomorrow morning. There’s something lovely about the bustle of settling just before a lecture begins first thing in the morning: cold cheeks, warm legs, the pulling off of jumpers and the susurration of our many notebooks and sheets of A4. It’s the same kind of loveliness that the pure white tulips have, the sort that’s in the quietness of the Ussher and in the cobblestones of Front Square, you’d like it.

Upstairs in the Arts Block, the corridors peel away like tributaries and they all look the same, a little warren of lostness and learning. “Lostness” is not a word but I’m sure you can appreciate the alliteration (and the image of a wandering me, accidentally walking into an Economics tutorial and blushing scarlet). As you predicted, my floaty cardigans and that coat that makes me look like a lost Womble fit in just fine in the arts block and they make my walk across the cobblestones to the Buttery all the cosier.

Do you remember why we came up from Cork on different buses that day? I’m guessing it was just because I was disorganised about booking things. I did get to walk up Grafton Street with just myself to talk to that first time. I had Tchaikovsky playing roaringly loud in my ears when you spotted me somewhere between Front Arch and the Campanile. You, very fairly, mocked me when you heard it; The Waltz of Flowers was clearly audible and in my Paddington-Bear -yellow jacket, I’m sure I looked cripplingly arty.

The feeling I had that day has stayed with me but now I’m beginning to grasp the things that caused it. The flower stalls, the cobblestones, and the seagulls that skirt the edges of the Arts Block, the wide walks across Front Square, the coloured stools in the Buttery, and the uniquely companionable solitude of the libraries. They’ve formed the bedrock of my experience of Trinity in a way that the crumpled prospectuses that I’m sure you’re thumbing through these days never could. I gather new little bricks of moments every day and Trinity grows all the taller.

I just wanted to write to tell you that I’m happy and to assure you that you will be too.

Love always-

Your sister,