Dear Notre Dame,
I very recently celebrated my first anniversary with my boyfriend. It makes me giddy every time I say it out loud. And, lucky for me, he’s a fellow ND class of 2020 student.
One of the classic stories you’ll hear from older alumni is that of the ND love story: two people meet on this beautiful campus, date for a bit, fall in love, and get married after graduating, and spend years together breeding future ND legacies and just loving each other forever. Then there’s the superstition that if you walk hand-in-hand with your partner around the lakes in a figure-eight path and then kiss them under the Lyons arch, you’re guaranteed to marry. “Ring by Spring” starts to weigh on you as you enter your senior year, as family and friends start to ask if you’ll have your own ND love story and become engaged by the end of your spring semester.
I’ll admit that it’s a little disorienting to have that ND bubble culture in the midst of a growing social culture of dating and marrying later in life—if dating or marrying at all. And not everyone at Notre Dame has dating on their minds anyway.
But I was not one of those people!
I agonized over unrequited crushes throughout my first two years here. It was a big problem. Honestly, I don’t know why I made it such an issue. To all those boys I thought I loved: I am so, so sorry.
But over my junior year, I gradually grew closer to one of my good Chorale friends, Derek. And we realized we liked each other, you know, as more than platonic friends, so he asked me out officially. I tell this story enthusiastically to anyone who asks. Unbeknownst to me, he painstakingly stuck glow-in-the-dark stars to the ceiling of his common room, moved the furniture to make room for picnic-style blankets and pillows on the floor, and “stargazed” with me to recreate my ideal date the best he could in the throes of a South Bend winter.
I cannot put in sufficient words how much Derek means to me. We help each other grow, keep each other accountable, and celebrate each little victory together. We talk all the time about how we could talk to each other even better. We wake each other up if asked the night before via phone call (or the occasional trek across campus into their room so they don’t! miss! their train! Derek!!). They say don’t take classes with your significant other, but boy, does he make Acting: Process and History of Modern American and European Fashion that much more fun.
He truly makes anything we do together an absolute joy. And, yes, he is undoubtedly a big reason that I always point to the people of Notre Dame as its best feature. He is one of my best friends, and I love him.
So thank you, Notre Dame, for blessing me with a genuine and caring soul to see me through the end of my journey here.