Today, a new Pope was elected. Habemus Papam. Of far more significance for me, a new JCR was elected for Hall. Habemus JCRam. I imagine this is the first day in the history of the world when both these events occurred on the one day.
The JCR is the student committee that takes responsibility for a huge array of student services in Hall. It also organises lots of drinking, or as college authorities like to say “events”.
This week last year, I turned into an emotional mess as a result of the JCR elections in which three of my flatmates, the Boys, were running.
One of my Boys had fought against the odds and his own very real fears. He hadn’t been that well-known in Hall, and he’d been up against what seemed like about a hundred other candidates for his post, but he’d run an incredible campaign. And I’d helped in any way I could. I can still see him standing on the desk in my single student bedroom practising his election speech, full of nerves, looking to me for help, and I remember feeling so helpless because I couldn’t think of anything I could say or do that really would help.
The election meant a lot to him, and it came to mean a lot to me. When he wasn’t around, the other Boys all agreed that the odds were against him, but if anyone deserved to win, he did, because he is one of the most big-hearted people I know.
I spent election night in the pub where the election count was taking place. One of the other Boys collapsed from too much alcohol. I was a grown-up and I had a car, but I refused to be an adult and didn’t take him home until the result of this particular post was announced and I sent another of our flatmates to mind him.
And he won, which I could barely believe. And my throat choked up and I cried one or two tears. And later that night, all keyed up at two in the morning, I went for a run, and tears washed all over my face. And in my ridiculous hormonal night of emotion, I had the realisation that good things can happen to good people, that happy endings are possible.
And that was one of the most important steps in my coming out to my parents two weeks later.
I’d stopped believing in happy endings. And this Boy’s election changed that. And after four years of not making any attempt to find a man, I began to believe that maybe someone could love me, that I could have a happy ending too, and that has led to the various, mainly disastrous, attempts at getting myself a man that I’ve made in the last year.
I surprised myself this year. I was dreading the emotions that a new JCR election would bring up. But I’m fine. It’s almost like I’m a proper grown-up at last. I’m mainly only emotional that it means the end of the current JCR, who are absolutely adorable.
This year’s election night started with one of the bizarrest traditions I know of. All the candidates strip for charity directly before the voting. Stripping as part of a selection process is bonkers. Real-life job interviews will be a breeze in comparison.
I missed the stripping last year because I was at work. This year, I was hesitant about going to the strip. It just seemed a bit too smutty. But I went. And it was weird. Of course I was the only Assistant Warden there. Everyone else has more sense. I found it difficult to look at the stage most of the time.
I have moved on from where I was last year. When an incident happened at the strip, I helped to deal with it and I was able to (eventually) kick into an authority mode that I didn’t have available to me last year.
The final strip of the night did make me smile. The backing music was An Dreoilín, a truly awful song only ever played on Irish language courses that teenagers go to in the Gaeltacht in the summer, and I haven’t heard it in a good ten years. The stripper was one of the youngest looking guys in Hall, with youthful red cheeks. And he leapt up and down frantically, fumbling with his shirt and his belt and finished the “strip” only slightly less clothed, but significantly redder than he’d started.
After the stripping and the voting, everyone went down to the pub for the count. And in another instance of my newfound grown-up detachment, I didn’t go. I did kind of wistfully want to re-live last year, but instead I finished the funding application that has been plaguing me for weeks now.
My progress in life is sometimes painfully slow, but it is progress.