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Coming home

Kristen Durbin | Monday, August 27, 2012

I’m pretty sure I’ve been dreaming for the past 14 months of my life. I’ve lived in three states that start with the letter I and two Spanish-speaking countries on opposite sides of the Atlantic. I traveled to nine countries during my three-and-a-half months in Spain last fall. I’ve seen such famed locales as the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Colosseum, Notre Dame in Paris, the Sagrada Familia, Trafalgar Square, the David and the Sistine Chapel. I enjoyed a breakfast of beer and pretzels at the real Oktoberfest and visited the Guinness factory in Dublin. I swam in two oceans and two seas. I climbed a volcano and went waterfall-jumping in El Salvador this summer. I formed lasting relationships with the people I met in all of my temporary homes.

After globetrotting so extensively and living in a given place for no more than four months at a time, I’m constantly torn between “homes,” always wanting to be wherever I’m not. When I’m at my childhood home in the sleepy Chicago suburbs, I ache for the sloped cobblestone streets of Toledo, Spain, and the majestic mountains of Idaho. I spent a good chunk of my summer in El Salvador wishing I could be back in my sweet home Chicago and longing to walk along the Rio Tajo in Toledo at sunset.

As I moved between Idaho and Illinois, Sevilla and San Salvador, I felt a constant void in my heart that varied in strength and depth depending on my feelings about the place I called “home” at the time. It wasn’t until I got off the toll road and caught the first glimpse of Mary perched atop the golden dome above the tree line that I realized what I’d been missing all along.

Notre Dame, the place I’ve called home for most of the last three years, welcomed me back with open arms on a gorgeous summer day. Since I moved back to campus in frigid January after returning from abroad, I’d forgotten what it feels like to come back to Notre Dame ready to begin a new school year. But as familiar as that feeling of anxiety and excitement was, it felt strange to move into my townhouse instead of the Pangborn basement.

Now, with the first week of senior year under my belt, I finally feel at home again. Even though I’ll probably spend most of the year trying to deny the fact that I graduate in May, I also have more travels to look forward to: fall break in San Diego, the Miami game at Soldier Field, a trip to Los Angeles with my fellow editors and spring break with my roommates.

But no matter where my life takes me in the next 14 months, I’ll always remember there’s no place like my home under the dome.

Contact Kristen Durbin at kdurbin@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.