How does one come to love this school? It’s a question that’s recently been on my mind. I couldn’t avoid it at Reunions, with the passion of the alumni in attendance on display no matter where I turned. I couldn’t avoid it as I returned from my summer program, feeling the stress of a semester at this school slowly creeping back up into my jaw. I couldn’t avoid it as I moved in for my final year at this school, filled with dread for the goodbyes lying ahead.
This school is many things. Difficult. Stressful. Unrelenting. Somehow a marathon and a sprint at once. It can be easy to love, too. Enchanting. Inspiring. Even homey. And that’s without even mentioning the people. Gather enough people around, and there’s bound to be people one doesn’t find as agreeable, sure. But regardless, I’ve found the people I can’t see a life without. The ones who care for me. The ones who push me forward. The ones who hold me up. The ones there in case I tumble down.
But that all simply answers why someone might love this school, and that’s not my question. I’ve been wondering how this love is born.
I returned to this question the night before the first day of classes. I sat in the depths of the McCarter Theater Center in a rehearsal room, watching my friends finish a rehearsal run of the Princeton Triangle Club’s Frosh Week Show with the club’s classic “Orange Bubble.” I sat there, off to the side of the room, and I tried to keep the tears welling up in my eyes as discreet as possible. Sure, the song pokes fun at this school and this town and their ability to disengage with the broader world. But somehow, at the end of 70 minutes of songs and scenes that aim to distill this club and this school into laughter and song, “Orange Bubble” hits me more with the emotional than the comedic: I think of how much I love this school. I think of how I came to love this school.
I was shown how to love Princeton. I was shown by those who came before me, through the welcome they gave me, and by seeing their own love for this school in action. They taught me how to love it, and in turn I’ve spent the last few years giving so much of myself to it while making it a home.
Any dread towards how little time I have left to call it a home largely evaporated earlier this week while I hung the Triangle banner on the wall next to the McCarter stage. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve climbed up too many ladder rungs to tie this banner carefully into place. Though it’s only a tiny part of my job to do so, it for some reason has staked a huge part of my love for the Triangle experience. When I stand out in the audience and see the lights dim everywhere except on the curtain and a circle around this banner, I look at it and see my own small, momentary part in this whole adventurous spectacle.
Unlike previous times, I didn’t hang this banner on my own this week. I brought along others so I could teach them how to do it, knowing that soon enough would come the last time I must or can do it.
As I climbed down the ladder rungs, the banner now hung, I couldn’t help but hope that in teaching them how to do this one small task, I also showed how much love has gone into it all for years before.
In fact, that’s my hope for the year ahead. I hope that as I walk around this campus for two last semesters and do the things I’ve loved for so long for the last few times, others around me, those who will stay around for a bit longer, will pick up this love as their own.
And I think that’s what I’ll be thinking of this Friday evening as the lights dim in McCarter for my last Triangle Frosh Week Show. I’ll look up at that banner I hung, I’ll look out into the audience, I’ll look to that stage full of friends, and I’ll hope that those filling the seats, especially the new first-year students, will pick up on the love to be found for this best place of all.
And then, after the last notes of “Orange Bubble” and “Old Nassau” stop ringing throughout the theater, I’ll climb up that ladder at the end of the night, and I’ll pull down the banner for nearly the final time. I’ve still got just a bit more time before this bubble bursts.
José Pablo Fernández García is a senior from Loveland, Ohio and Head Prospect Editor at the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at email@example.com.
Self essays at The Prospect give our writers and guest contributors the opportunity to share their perspectives. This essay reflects the views and lived experiences of the author. If you would like to submit a Self essay, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.