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The beginnings of goodbye

| Thursday, April 9, 2015

I’ve always had a lot of thoughts.

Growing up, I read everything. I’d read newspapers, magazines and books. I read the sports section until I memorized the Red Sox batting averages on a daily basis. My parents encouraged it, both because everyone knows you have to be a pretty bad parent to not let your kid read, and because it gave me an outlet for what was, I suspect, at times an annoying curiousness about everything. I had thoughts aplenty to share, and my parents would usually end up being the ones consigned to hearing them in the car, at the dinner table, in church or long past my bedtime.

I still have a lot of thoughts, but my parents are 1,000 miles away and friends aren’t biologically obligated to listen to me. With that in mind, I applied to write for The Observer my sophomore year. It was one of the best decisions of my time at Notre Dame.

As I sat down to write this, my penultimate column, I took a look back. I’ve written almost 40 columns, weighing in at over 30,000 words. It’s kind of like my version of a thesis, just with more thinly-veiled sex jokes.

They’ve been written at breakfast, on a plane, on Geddes’ patio and, most often, in my room while wearing boxers and listening to Run DMC and blink-182. They’ve been written sober, and, well, otherwise. They’ve covered marathon bombings, Newtown, 9/11 and Feve. They covered friends, sections, Day of Man and the best flag football team the world has ever seen.

There were jokes about business majors, engineers and Valentine’s Day. There were jokes meant for everyone, some that just made sense to my friends and there were probably a few only laughed at by me. I once made a joke about Playtex and the Vatican. Don’t tell the alumni or the Pope.

I always told myself I’d never take my column too seriously, which wasn’t too hard once I realized anything serious I wrote would be dwarfed by the incredible writing on politics and the world other people put in this space.

I always told myself I wanted my columns to make people think about important things, make them laugh and leave them with a smile. Hopefully I did OK.

I always told myself I’d ask someone out via a column, but it turns out columns don’t come out in the summer, and some things won’t wait. Sorry, Bridget. It was going to focus on your smile. It’s still pretty cute.

Reading through what I’ve written, there are some common trends. There’s an honest attempt to say something worth thinking about. There are some pretty bad jokes. There’s a lot about seeking something bigger than yourself, doing something important and helping others. In so much as a 21-year-old with little clue about where he’s going in life can talk about those things, I hope I have done well.

These pages offered me much over the years. They’ve given me a chance to think out loud and say something on my mind. They’ve given me a spot to say things I might otherwise forget and to thank people who have gotten me here.

These pages let me thank my friends for four incredible years on campus, in Washington D.C., Alabama, Florida, California, Canada and everywhere in between. For picking me up when I’m down, for the shenanigans and for the memories.

My parents, for everything they’ve done to get me to and through Notre Dame.

Siegfried and its Ramblers, for making this place home. Section 2B, for making me who I am today. Section 4B, for making my job as a RA one of the best experiences of my life. May your appreciation for 4Lokos coming in under the 14 percent limit never diminish, Teebz Tuesday never dwindle and Hanle never be in the hallway.

The Observer, for taking a chance and letting me write. For my editors, who always helped me untangle a run-on sentence or three. Tom, for always looking over my writing and making it better.

Notre Dame, for all it has done for me. Thank you for the experiences, the professors, the people and the opportunities.

Oh, and for parietals. “You may be old enough to go to war, vote or drink, but the dangers of a girls’ dorm after midnight are too much.” That’s John 3:14, I think. What can I say; I got a B- in theology.

Four years later, I still have a lot to say. I still have a lot of thoughts. And I’m truly thankful to have had a space to share them. Five semesters and 30,000 or so words ago, I wrote my first words here. In two weeks, my time in The Observer is up. Like most seniors, I’m not really sure where it has gone. Like most, I cannot imagine a different place to spend it or different people to spend it with. In two weeks, my Viewpoint career is over. In five weeks, my Notre Dame experience is done — the ride is over. Ultimately, it’s been a ride like no other. Thanks for tagging along.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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