Just about a year ago, I sat at home — like I am now as I draft these words — to write about losing out on “the possibility of filling McCarter with laughter and pure joy” during Triangle’s Frosh Week Show.
A year ago, I wrote after working on a virtual version of the show. This year, I write not long after a production meeting to plan Triangle’s long-awaited return to the McCarter stage. Of course, so much more has changed in this intervening year: changes in who I am, changes in what Princeton is like, seismic changes in what the broader world is like.
But in this instant, the most tangible change I feel is a resurging joy, almost childlike, after a somber year, all thanks to the promise of soon, finally, participating behind the scenes in the Triangle tradition that helped me fall in love with this school and this club when I was only an audience member.
I’m sure I’m not alone in sharing this sort of joy, within Triangle or across the University community. Within The Daily Princetonian community, the news of all sorts of things returning — from Lawnparties to the Coffee Club, and even access to our own newsroom — has been met with excitement, even if mostly in the form of Slack’s reaction emojis.
In all honesty, it’s fairly odd to write about joy like this. It’s not a practice I’ve made much of throughout this past year. I’ve written about loss both personal and universal. I’ve written about frustration both regarding specific events and aimed at life in general. Moreover, I’ve seen the ‘Prince’ filled with so many similar stories of loss and frustration in this past year. Sometimes, these sorrows have belonged to the authors themselves. Other times, my incredible colleagues and friends have shed light on the sorrows of others. Suffice to say, life has been molded by so many forms of grief lately.
In this instant, however, I feel the hands of joy, of excitement, of glee at work, molding life once again. The prospect of classrooms and lecture halls, dormitories, eating clubs, and dining halls across the campus filling in a way they haven’t since March 2020, is a prospect that brings such joy.
It brings memories as well — mostly memories of previous joyful moments. It brings back the chaotic laughter from Triangle’s last hurrah before being sent home all those months ago. It brings back the warm pride upon hearing a professor of mine praise the ‘Prince’ for stepping up to the task as the pandemic first began to unfold. Even the meager cheerfulness of one too many Zoom social events comes back.
Despite all this joy, despite my eagerness for all the upcoming semester seems to promise, and despite all the change from this past year, one thing remains the same as the last time I wrote about Triangle’s Frosh Week Show and the song “Old Folks’ Home” specifically: the future that lies ahead isn’t guaranteed to be the future you wished for.
This was certainly true of my predictions for this past year. Yet, while a year ago the notion of a differing year felt like losing out on something I had once wished for, somehow, now, the lack of a guaranteed future feels almost liberating. Likely, this is just due to the magic of perspective or the difference in viewing a moment in time as a start or an end, an opening or a closure.
Now, as I write these words during one of the last nights I’ll spend, at least for a while, in the childhood bedroom I’ve concealed with my Zoom virtual background for the past 17 months, this moment certainly feels more like a start, an opening.
Maybe this notion is also responsible for the excitement Triangle’s Frosh Week Show currently brings me. It marks the start of the year — a moment of new beginnings for first-years and a moment of reunion for older students. And of course, it marks the first of many times the McCarter curtain will open under triangle-shaped lights in the coming year.
A year ago, I sat at home writing and waiting, unsure of “the next time [I’d] get to hear ‘Old Folks’ Home’ in McCarter, instead of on my laptop screen.” Now, I’m sitting at home writing again, but this time, I’m waiting only a handful of days, if all goes well, before I get to hear “Old Folks’ Home” and so many more of my favorite Triangle songs and jokes fill McCarter once more.
José Pablo Fernández García is a junior from Ohio and Associate Prospect Editor at the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.