The main entrance to Trinity’s campus is a rather small wooden door that can accommodate, at most, two people simultaneously, provided both are content to shimmy sideways and squeeze past each other. As a gate to one of Ireland’s largest universities and tourist attractions, it simply does not seem up to its task. But entering through that door is an experience that will never get old.
My favorite routine is seeing the dynamic and rapidly changing center of Dublin dramatically change upon crossing the threshold of my college. The shouts of tourists, the melodies of buskers, the rumble of buses, the clamor of vendors, and all the sounds that move Dublin—these all are turned away at the narrow door. And in their absence, you become aware of the ways your body relaxes upon arriving in a place where you’ve made your home.
This Mitchell year started with three timorous raps of the brass knocker on that door. At a rainy August daybreak, Sky, Fatou, and I began this year removed from the frenetic pace of our lives in the US. And since that day, I have been working to build and share my home here.
Building my home means collecting artwork and ticket stubs and haphazardly slapping them on the walls of my dorm room. It means popping down a flight of stairs, enjoying Fatou’s famous jollof rice, and feeling the surprise of a perilously hot pepper causing my face to flush and cry and melt; it also means incorporating her gentle, constructive suggestion to perhaps try adding more spices to the chili I occasionally make for us.
It means inflating an air mattress, cramming more people than are allowed into my space, and staying up wildly late with Jackson and Alexander, filling my building with silly debates and belly laughter. It means meeting friends through sports and rehydrating after trainings with pints at the on-campus pub.
It means being walking distance from a weekly ukulele singalong night, rocking up alongside Shauna and Connor (an honorary Mitchell) armed with the instrument given to me for my birthday. It means keeping a running tab of coffee shops for study sessions with Chris, and brunch spots to frequent with Sky.
It means watching a sparsely attended play with Celia and breaking down the aesthetic and technical choices over cheap slices of pizza and Twix McFlurries. It means meeting the friends visiting my friends, and learning about the lives they lived before becoming characters in your life.
Each time I walk through the door that seems too small for its purpose, I am reminded that this experience is about making a place that’s worthy of the experiences we are creating together. It’s important to pare down the things that fill this space in order to make room for the people that enrich my life here.