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Four years, according to the Talking Heads

| Friday, May 21, 2021

When I first got to Saint Mary’s, I had a sticky note list of classes I needed to take over the next few semesters and a mental list of graduate programs I wanted to attend. My plan was to do everything as efficiently as possible, and I thought nothing of the way I used my schoolwork and ambition to keep from stepping out of my comfort zone. Then I found myself at my first Observer meeting. The smiles that greeted me on that first Friday afternoon remain some of my favorites to this day. Not long after, I actually listened to the lyrics of “This Must Be the Place” for the first time.

David Byrne’s voice accompanied me as freshman year continued, and my Friday afternoons began to revolve around Saint Mary’s News department meetings, signing up for stories and laughing with the people who were quickly becoming some of my closest friends. I realized, “I must be having fun.”

The song followed me, becoming an important fixture on my playlists as I began to feel at home. Byrne sang “Home is where I want to be / but I guess I’m already there,” and I found the words more than just poetic — they were true.

Home is the quad in Holy Cross Hall where the only child in me learned to live with the chaos of my three extroverted roommates. Its hallowed walls have seen my breakdowns, all-nighters and insomniac streaks, and its inhabitants have made me smile through it all. To the other residents of our section, I’m sorry for that week when we wouldn’t stop playing “D–ked Down In Dallas.” I’ll take some of the blame for that.

Home is a table in Danny Boy’s, sardined between more people than should fit or quietly talking with just one or two. It’s the place I celebrated submitting major projects and enjoyed reunions after the long winter break. The hugs, jokes and beers shared here helped this pandemic year feel closer to normal than I ever thought possible.

Home is the history department at Saint Mary’s, where I took one class out of sheer curiosity and have been presented with welcome questions and challenges ever since. My history classes helped me see a beautiful but flawed world and gave me the confidence to believe I can make it better.

Home is the basement of South Dining Hall where I’ve laughed, cried and lost so many nights of sleep. The basement saw me at my most creative, absurd and miserable (my COVID vaccine side effects were much stronger than anticipated). Some of my most meaningful friendships were born this way. My love for Maria, Mariah, Maeve and Claire transcends the confines of the basement, though its questionable sounds and smells are undeniably significant in our memories together.

When Byrne sings “You got a face with a view,” several people come to mind. From my first friend at Saint Mary’s to my favorite professors, I’ve received nothing but incredible support that I didn’t always notice at the time. To those faces with a view, thank you for staying within sight.

Four years have introduced me to people and places that make me ponder, “Did I find you or you find me?” I don’t have an answer to that. I don’t know if I found The Observer, my roommates or my best friend from my semester abroad, or if they found me. Either way, I’m grateful for their presence.

The words “sing into my mouth” had little significance until recently, but someone singing Jimmy Buffett songs to me like that deserves a mention. Far be it from me to complain about this lyric becoming real for a moment.

As my final days as an undergraduate unfold, I can’t say “I love the passing of time.” Part of me would love to stay here — perpetually 22 years old and surrounded by the people I love — forever. These four years, as told by the Talking Heads, have been better than my freshman-year self would have ever believed possible. Yet I can’t deny my excitement about what will come next — for my friends, myself and even The Observer. We’ll all “make it up as we go along.”

I’m forever grateful for the Talking Heads, who continue to give me the language to reflect on these past four years. I’ve had my “feet on the ground” and “head in the sky.” My ambition and anxiety often worked against each other, but the Talking Heads were always there to remind me, “It’s OK, I know nothing’s wrong.” Time and again, it’s proven true.

When I leave after commencement, I know I’ll think of Saint Mary’s, The Observer office and so many other spots in South Bend when I hear the song’s opening lines — “Home is where I want to be / pick me up and turn me round.” But like the homes I’ve found here, I’m sure I’ll find myself elsewhere, thinking “this must be the place.”

Sara Schlecht is graduating with a degree in history and English writing and a minor in humanistic studies. Following a summer at home on her family’s farm, she will be escaping for a year of service in Chicago. She loves taking book recommendations from strangers and will accept them at [email protected] 

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

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