Today is Mardi Gras. To many people, this is just a day before Ash Wednesday - the mark of the beginning of Lent. But for me, and the rest of Louisiana students, it’s a whole season we miss dearly.
Today, I remember going to my first parades in Metairie, where my dad would hold me on his shoulders so I could catch all the trinkets and throws. I remember later standing behind the barricades with my dad for Endymion - the biggest parade of the year. I remember going out with my friends to St. Charles and following friends who became maids and queens for a day for blocks as they stood on a float. I remember the before and after parade festivities - crawfish boils, king cake parties, all the NOLA food you can dream of, bringing our whole city and state together as family.
While I think today is making all of us miss home a little more, I also remember the Louisiana community built here at Notre Dame. Especially from the New Orleans area, we went to all different kinds of high schools, but we are family here. We all end up on the same planes to and from campus. We make group chats and text updates of what’s happening back home. Today, we gather for king cake outside in front of DeBart to bring Mardi Gras cheer to the cloudy day. We’ll break bread as a Notre Dame family in the dining hall with the food we missed so much – shrimp and grits, crawfish étouffée, and so much more. Here on campus, these people are my family and they make sure I know it.
Even if you’re not from Louisiana, you will miss home. Welcome Weekend will come, and you think you never want to go back. You could reside by the Dome every day for the rest of your life. But, there will come a time your heart drops because you’re not around the corner from your family, your hometown friends, and the place you grew up. You’ll scroll through Instagram, see all your high school friends back home, and wish you were there. And when that time comes, your Notre Dame family will step in to make you feel a little extra closer to home.