Trabia Garden

Location
A rather isolated spot on the Bika Snowfield of the Trabia continent, almost completely surrounded by mountains.

Theme
Where I Belong [Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack: Disc 3, Track 09]

History
Trabia was the last Garden to be built, and is the smallest and less influential of the three. It is significantly less formal than either of the two other, probably promoting a bigger sense of friendship, support and belonging among its cadets, and contrary to Balamb, it forbids the use of Guardian Forces. Its motto is "Take Care Of Oneself." (Rinoa should have gone there, it would have made half of the game obsolete.)

When, at the end of Disc 1, the party fails to assassinate Sorceress Edea, she retaliates by having Galbadia fire missiles at both Balamb and Trabia Gardens: Balamb for obvious reasons, and Trabia because she feared they would side with Balamb, I suppose. While Balamb Garden survives the attack through the joined efforts of Squall's success in changing it into its mobile form and Selphie's actions at the Missile Base, Trabia is caught off-guard and is completely destroyed. Still, the students of the small Garden coherently show their strong spirit and dedication by paying their respects to the fallen ones and immediately beginning to work towards the restoration of their home, and not only do they do it all on their own, they also refuse "pity donations" (which is what they apparently consider any donations from outsiders to be), demonstrating a great sense of pride even at a time like this.

The following is a quote by a random Trabia Garden student that can be found in the basketball field after the orphanage flashback scenes take place; I find it rather endearing, and think it sums up a lot of the Trabia spirit and view on life, much of which Selphie has obviously grown to have as well:

"For Trabia students to become SeeDs, they have to pass the written test in T-Garden and then transfer to Balamb Garden. We already passed the test so we've been permitted to go to Balamb Garden anytime, but... Yeah... I don't care anymore. I'm gonna stay here and work for Trabia."

It is obvious that despite being fresh and often shadowed by its larger counterparts, Trabia Garden is extremely dear to all who grew up in it. It encourages its students to be selfless, dedicated and caring, rather than mere killing machines, and, as such, is much more of a home than either Balamb or Galbadia. Growing up here has certainly further molded Selphie into her current optimistic, energetic self.

Relevance
Trabia Garden is Selphie's one true home. It is the place she's been happiest and spent more time at; conveniently, she actually remembers her stay there, too. It can be assumed that she was sent there around the age of six-eight (since it was built at some undefined time after she was five, and it doesn't look like she joined too long after), although I have no clue why she didn't go to Balamb instead, as Squall and Seifer did. She then left at seventeen when, after passing the SeeD written test, she had to transfer to Balamb Garden in order to take the final admission exam for the aforementioned military force. Either way, throughout the game, Selphie expresses her love of Trabia on many occasions: she always speaks of it in a fond, almost nostalgic way, and when she learns of Galbadia's plan to destroy both Balamb and Trabia Gardens, she becomes desperate and does not rest until she has convinced Squall to allow her to go to the Missile Base in order to abort the operation. Although she is clearly crushed when it becomes painfully obvious that she's too late to save Trabia, she does not let her emotions take control and rescues Balamb all the same, going on a hysterical killing spree and getting some understandable revenge in the process.

After the party has succeeded in saving Balamb and things are back on track, Selphie has nothing more to keep her thoughts away from recent events, and her first (and only) depressive phase in the game begins. At this point, she experiences ambivalent feelings: she wants to visit Trabia and see how much of it has survived the attack, but, at the same time, she's too afraid to. When she finally gathers her courage and asks Squall to take her there, what she finds is a lot of debris where her home used to be, and far too many gravestones with familiar names on them. I love the scenes that take place here, because there is absolutely no other time in the whole of Final Fantasy VIII where vulnerable, serious Selphie lets herself be seen on her weblog, when she sensed she was about to expose that side of herself, she simply decided to stop writing, so the fact that we get to actually witness her being a lot more than just an immature teenager on a constant sugar rush is priceless. Her quotes are no longer filled with exclamation marks; she is simply a worried, caring and broken young woman running around, trying to make up for all that she was unable to do before. She stops to reminisce with her remaining friends, tends to the injured and cheers up two little kids who haven't "managed to save the teddy bear she had given them" (sweetest scene ever!). Regardless of her own feelings, she does her best to raise some hope and optimism: if there ever were any doubts about Selphie being altruistic, these moments put an end to them.

Once she has overcome this huge trial, Selphie finally puts her feelings in order and pulls herself together: although there was nothing she could do to prevent its destruction, she can still help restore Trabia Garden to its former glory; she has given a share of her energy to those who needed it most, and her friends don't hate nor blame her. Indeed, she is still loved, she can still be useful: and so optimistic Selphie is back, with no regrets to live with (other than the fact that she must face Edea, the truth about whom she has just found out, but that eventually ends well, too. Well, Rinoa does become a sorceress and stuff, but whatever.).

Trabia Garden will probably always be Selphie's most beloved place in the whole world. It was there that she grew up, made friends, became popular, offered teddy bears to cute little children who worshipped her, laughed and ate cheesecake like there was no tomorrow. Sociable and flexible as she may be, Trabia marks her first real steps into life and, for that, it holds a very special place in her heart.


Final Fantasy™ VIII, Selphie and all characters and locations mentioned are ©1999 Squaresoft, now Square-Enix.
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