192 short weeks ago
Patrick Valencia | Thursday, April 23, 2015
One hundred and ninety-two weeks ago, I stepped onto campus for the first time as a student, ready to begin the wild ride that would be the next four years. I had been here so many times before as a child, but this time it was different. This time, something had changed.
I thought back to this moment on Easter weekend while roaming the quads of Notre Dame, smacking around tennis balls in the final round of Easter quad golf that my friends and I would play before graduating. This was just another last in the course of many lasts that have comprised my senior year. I had been here so many times before, feeling that “this is the last time” feeling. But this time, it was different. Something had once again changed.
I thought back to pulling up to Morrissey 192 weeks ago and being met by the Frosh-O staff who greeted me and helped me move into my new home for the next three years. I remember going next door to ask for help moving my bed and, in the process, accidentally shearing my smoke alarm right off the wall. I remember going across the hall looking for ideas on what room setup would make the most living space out of the single-turned-doubles that all Manorites love so well. I remember that first football game and all the tailgating that came with it. I remember the two stadium evacuations and the loss to perennial powerhouse South Florida. I could go on and on with the vivid memories that raced through my mind that afternoon, but it might not mean anything to anyone beyond my friends and me.
What I realized during this round of quad golf was that, for us, college was over. Yes, we still had projects and papers and assignments and exams, but during that round, we had already begun the process of putting the final period to our time here at Notre Dame. This final period inevitably includes some time spent in the library, but for the most part, it is a time where we are all trying to embrace every day, every moment. Trying to make every second last an eternity.
Now, I find myself trying to stop time — especially the good times spent with all these great friends in one place. I must ask myself: Why didn’t I try to do this 192 weeks ago? So many days and nights spent working away on assignments or studying for exams. So many times I wished away weekdays for weekends, weeks for football games, months for breaks and semesters for summers. If only I had known how much I would want those late nights in the library back, how much I would want to commandeer the basement study room for another all-nighter or how much I would want to go through another full day of classes on two hours of sleep.
While giving a tour to a group of Irish visitors last week, I continued reminiscing and sharing stories with them while detailing my desire to go back and do it all again. The awe and admiration they expressed for the campus they just stepped onto for the first time less than an hour before was eerily reminiscent of the feeling that I felt 192 weeks ago. The same feeling that I felt again this past Easter weekend. It may have taken me a while to figure out, but while walking across God Quad that spring afternoon, I finally identified that feeling: I was home, at a place unlike any other, amongst a group of people unlike any other.
Now, I finally understand what is so special about these four years at Notre Dame. I don’t want to go back to those long library nights because of the work. I want to go back because of Notre Dame.
If only I had realized this 192 short weeks ago.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.