Senior Column: 3 years of extras

I said goodbye to Trinity three years ago. Within two days of the news that COVID was not only interrupting our spring break but shutting down our university for the rest of the semester, I had driven from St. Louis to Kansas City and from Kansas City to San Antonio with my best friend, Grace. We had approximately two hours to pack up all of our things and leave.

I thrust the balcony door of my McLean dorm room wide open, blasted happy country music and shoveled my things into boxes. (Aside: Grace’s dad helped me carry some of it, and one particular box was so heavy he said, “What is this, a box of rocks?” It was indeed a box of rocks. Just geoscience things.) Once the room was empty, I said goodbye to Trinity, to San Antonio, to this chapter of my life I had only just begun. As a first-year student, I knew I was well within the window of transferring schools or even dropping out, especially with an unknown and terrifying virus breathing down my neck. So, just in case, I said goodbye.

Obviously, I came back to Trinity — albeit a full 18 months later — but now it feels weird to say goodbye a second time. It’s not because I’m not ready (because I am so ready), but because if I learned one lesson from the pandemic, it’s that I shouldn’t attach too much of myself to objects and places.

Granted, I learned this lesson when I was six years old and watched my house burn in a fire a week before Christmas. The smell of smoke which lingered on our surviving belongings reminded me not to rely on things that could literally go up in flames at any moment.

Friendships, music, the love of family, stories — all those things that neither a house fire nor a global pandemic can pry out of my hands — are what matter the most.

So, sure, I’ll miss it here, but I’m finding that a second goodbye isn’t necessary. After all, despite how fragile my Trinity experience seemed in my empty dorm room, the first one was only temporary. I’m not leaving behind friendships or my curiosity or any of the things I’ve learned while at Trinity; all I’m leaving behind is a campus that will be more unfamiliar each time I visit, anyway. I’ll happily say goodbye to the exec office in the newsroom whose infinite stacks of newspapers give me a heart attack whenever I open the door, but I find gratitude more appropriate for the rest.

Thank you Coates Library for being a place of refuge when I’m drained and a place of exploration when I have energy. I’ll never forget finding an Italian train ticket stuck in a book about gender theory in 19th-century France and realizing how many minds have pored over each resource in the stacks. I’ll take with me the inspiration I feel tracing my fingers across the spines of your books.

Thank you Loon-E Crew for adopting me into the dance family I needed when I first got here. You gave me some of my best friends and favorite experiences performing to the cheers of the community. I’ll take with me the unconditional support that extended from the studio to the wings, and my ever-improving break dance skills.

Thank you Ledge Lane, where I paced for nights on end in the fall of my first year listening to music. I’ll take with me a reminder that sometimes, all it takes to dispel homesickness is to go for a walk under some trees.

Thank you Trinity transphobes — students, faculty, administration and more — for really trying your hardest. You’ve put in a valiant effort over the years to make me feel small or alienated, and it has made for some great entertainment. I’ll take with me literally nothing from you because you have always been and will always be irrelevant.

Thank you (non-transphobic) professors and other mentors for seeing potential in me I didn’t know existed. Each of you has made my life richer in some way, whether it be through the knowledge you passed down through your courses, the opportunities you’ve given me or the accidental lessons on how to deal with difficult people. I’ll take with me so many book recommendations and the confidence to try new things.

Thank you Trinitonian for allowing me to have a voice on this campus. I’m convinced there is no other challenge like reporting for and editing a student newspaper from the year 2019 to 2023, remaining dedicated to the welfare of a community with individuals who will always find a reason to be pissed off at you. I’ll take with me the ability to think on my feet and an appreciation for the quiet of 3 a.m.

And thank you to the pandemic. Not for the horrifying trauma you’ve bestowed on the world or the destruction you’ve wrought. For that, you can go to Hell. But if I have to find the light in the darkness, it’s the opportunity you’ve given me to see each day as a gift. Because of you, I said goodbye to Trinity three years ago, and because of you, I’ve spent every day since then collecting the things that matter, just like when I packed up my dorm room that day. I got my closure back in 2020, so now I’m leaving with a whole lot of extras: extra friends, extra life lessons, extra love.