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Sleep easy

Bill Brink | Friday, May 14, 2010

It’s gotten to the point where I hate going to sleep.
That’s what this college does to you. It takes something you cherish and turns it to dust. But that’s why you love it.
Sleep is the elusive nirvana that college students strive towards, the tonic that cures all ills. Countless times I’ve been working for this paper, or up all night working on a newspaper, or in class during a busy week begging for an hour between the sheets.
Come senior year that changes. Now my bed represents the death sentence of another day with the people I love, one day closer to the point where I have to leave behind everything I hold dear and join the real world.
This place is so wonderful, it’s transformed sleep from a goal to a dread. My buddy Rob says I don’t appreciate the value of a good nap. This is why.
The sacrifice of sleep allowed me to experience the memories that will stay with me. That’s both for big events, like waking up at 4 a.m. to bus down to the Kentucky Derby, and small, like staying up until 4 a.m. arguing with my roommates about whether a pretzel is classified as a cracker or a pastry. (It’s both. It’s also a German guild symbol and a Christian Lenten staple, and the biggest pretzel ever weighed 40 pounds and was five feet wide. And to think I almost went through life without these crucial nuggets of information.)
But what does Notre Dame have to do with this, other than its proximity to Louisville? It brings together the people that make these memories possible. You take a massive group of wonderful people and then break it down into subsets: class, dorm, section, etc. Whatever dorm you’re in automatically becomes the best one on campus (unless you’re in Fisher, which is the best dorm on campus) and you grow as close with your section members as with your family.
Speaking of family, and Google Apps, which we know all Notre Dame students love, some of my friends have an e-mail label called “ND family,” a section in which they put all chain e-mails regarding the things we do together. How many other schools breed that kind of unity?
I’ll remember not sleeping on account of class work that I had allowed to pile up, nights spent in Reckers until morning. Worth it? Sort of. My GPA survived (it’s a 4.12, Dad, in case you were wondering) and I learned a lot in some great classes with wonderful professors. Another thing this university attracts is a fantastic faculty who care about the students and what they learn. That’s not the case everywhere and shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Now’s the time for me to tell you about how scared I was freshman year, how much I’ve changed, how great this place is, and maybe sprinkle in a cliché to illustrate the Class of 2010’s fleeting time at Notre Dame like “We will always have Paris.” I won’t do that, but that does remind me of the time my roommate and I stayed up all night, finals the next morning be damned, discussing the top 10 most quotable movies. Now, can I tell you who the Secretary of State was in the Kennedy administration, since I was studying for U.S. history that night? Sure. But now I also know that when someone asks me “Did I catch a ‘niner’ in there?” and wonders if I called from a walkie-talkie, I need to respond with “No, it was cordless.”
“Never memorize something that you can look up,” Albert Einstein said, since we’re on the subject of quotes. Dean Rusk is a simple Google search away. But the time I spent with my friends here cannot be replicated in any form and needs to be cherished.
I’m sure the rest of you are just as sad about graduating and leaving this wonderful place and these wonderful people behind. You’ve been blessed with the chance to spend time here, and I hope for all our sakes we can remember it fondly as well as let it shape as we enter the real world. My friends, rectors and professors have had a profound effect on who I am, and that’s a good thing. I hope that’s the case for you as well.
So now it’s night time of our college career, and we’ll go to sleep here one final time before we wake up to a world absent the things that have made our lives great for four years. It won’t be happy. But it’s a necessary part of this experience. In 15 years, when you slide under the covers (probably at 9:30, because the kids need breakfast by 6:15 to make the bus and you have a meeting at 8:30 you need to prepare for) you’ll think back to the time when those concerns were a distant possibility and sleep represented the ticking clock on the best time of your life. And you’ll smile and be thankful that you got to be a part of it.
Sweet dreams, Class of 2010. It’s been real.

Bill Brink is graduating with a degree in History and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He would like to be remembered as the guy who debunked the myth that you won’t graduate if you walk through the doors of Main Building, since he did it as a freshman in his first week on campus because no one told him not to. He’d like to thank all the people who made it possible for him to come here and all the people who made his time here as special as it was. He can be contacted at wbrink@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.