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What we’ll take

Maddie Hanna | Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I went to a party last weekend and ran into a friend who graduated from Notre Dame a couple years ago.

“Never graduate,” he ordered me. “Jagerbombs! No, seriously, never graduate.”

While I hope that, two years down the road, I’m not scaring soon-to-be grads into clinging even tighter to this place, the words – drunken as they were – affected me. In a little more than a week, I thought, my friends and I would be putting on our caps and gowns and forced smiles and trying not to cry as our parents insisted on taking that group picture one last time, because someone’s eyes were shut and my mom forgot where the zoom button was.

But – not counting the architecture students among us – would you really want another year? The freshmen would seem even younger, the bars, even older, and the classes – well, writing my last paper made me realize how lucky I am to avoid grad school.

The good thing about goodbyes is that nostalgia overwhelms the moments we’d rather forget. I won’t remember finals weeks or sleepless nights, roommate dramas or ResLife hearings.

I’ll remember our first home football game, rushing the field, then rushing into Stonehenge, then calling my friends and telling them how incredible Notre Dame was.

I’ll remember how I used to think the Mary statue on top of the Dome was Father Sorin. (It gets worse: My roommate thought it was God.)

I’ll remember my first SYR: Blind date, O’Neill Hall, three girls, one guy.

I’ll remember how proud we were of illicitly obtaining alcohol before our first pre-dance “social gathering” and how we thought we were so cool for buying only Corona.

I’ll remember how we thought it was cool to walk through men’s dorms, knock on random doors and ask for beer. And how we thought it was cool to dance on dorm room radiators. And, later, when we realized none of that was cool.

I’ll remember how disappointed I was that Bruce Springsteen did not, in fact, jump out of the Trojan horse during the USC weekend pep rally.

I’ll remember that blue body paint was much easier to put on than it was to wash off.

I’ll remember the trips: Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, the Caribbean, LA and Mexico. And no experience could top driving to Oklahoma in a pickup truck. (Or watching my roommate get banned from the state of Missouri.)

Warnings from still-can’t-let-go alums aside, I’m ready to graduate. What matters is what we take with us. We didn’t need to go to Notre Dame to make memories, but I wouldn’t have wanted to anywhere else.

Maddie Hanna will graduate with a degree in French and a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She’ll be writing for the Boston Globe this summer and, hopefully, for many more newspapers to come. She’d like to thank her friends, especially those who have always been there: Kim, who never fails to make her laugh; Katie, who lives with no regrets; and Megan, who is an inspiration. From Lewis Hall to Lafayette, from Carroll Street to Hill, they’ve given her the greatest memories. She’d also like to thank her parents, who have made everything possible.