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I had never known

Matthew DeFranks | Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I had never been to Notre Dame before.
None of my family went here. I did not have any baby pictures with a Notre Dame sweatshirt on. I had never seen the dome before. I purposely stayed away from NBC on Saturdays in the fall.
But then the summer of 2008 happened. My dad and I embarked on a 17-day college road trip that spanned 16 states, 10 schools, two baseball games and two countries. And Notre Dame was a simple stop between Purdue and Michigan.
My first step on campus was somewhere in the stadium parking lot and my first ones at Main Building were up the steps. (And I have not done that since. So I have that going for me, which is nice.) I had no idea which one was Grace and which one was Flanner – oh, wait, that’s still today. I had never figured out every walk is a seven-minute walk from Zahm (most of the time).
I did not know that snow that did not stick was not real snow. I had never slipped on ice before. I did not own a winter jacket or hat or boots or gloves because I had never needed them before.
I did not know what The Observer was and I sure did not think it would be one of my favorite things about Notre Dame. I did not think basements were places where people worked because I never had a basement. I had never been published in a college newspaper before.
I was clueless to the power of the flex points and had never played quad golf or broomball. I did not know Sbarro would soon be gone and Taco Bell would be other late-night drunk food option. I did not think eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was acceptable (it is). I also did not know five-dollar foot-longs were not a thing inside the Notre Dame bubble.
I had never been to the southern hemisphere, let alone Australia. I had never been cliff-jumping, wine-tasting or sailing. I had never pet a koala, kangaroo or quokka.
So what started as a measly road trip through the South, Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic has taken me to the other side of the world and 25 football games. It gave me friends all around the nation and even the world.
Five years ago, I had never been here before. Now I just hope I never have to leave.

Contact Matthew DeFranks at mdefrank @nd.edu
    The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.