It has been a long summer. For some, a summer filled with research or internships or even programs from afar. For others, time at their houses well spent in the cities where they were raised. But at the end of the day, a house isn’t a home, and no matter how far our journeys may have taken us, our home is right under the Dome.
The hour is upon us, the season is here, and just as pumpkin spice lattes start hitting Starbucks’ cups again, so too will Notre Dame students return to the land of Our Lady. A place where dorms will soon flood with old faces and new, and where incoming freshmen will both ironically and prophetically meet their future husbands and wives at Domerfest. And despite how loudly we’ll be chanting quite the contrary come November 26th, there’s nothing quite like the sweet sight of red and yellow lining the sidewalks of the University we know and love.
As autumn draws near and students descend, so too do the traditions that bring the season to life. Oh how long we’ve waited for that unspoken buzz of a Friday in fall, the rush of seeing the bookstore filled and campus even fuller. It’s been too long since the trembling bass of “Shipping Up to Boston” woke students before the sun even had its chance, since the sweet melody of “Tryouts” from Rudy echoed across South Quad as the fumes of sirloin steak accompanied it into the air. The sported looks of oversized jerseys and gameday green haven’t graced campus in what feels like an eternity, and dining hall waffle makers have been left unbothered for perhaps even longer. But perhaps the view most missed are the proud pennants donned far and tall for all of Stadium Lot to see, as tailgates make headway in properly starting off a Saturday at sunrise. Words fail to adequately capture the impact of Notre Dame’s legacy — both as a sentiment and a location — when it comes to weekend beginnings in the heart of a South Bend autumn, yet at the same time, the sound of her name alone is enough to conjure tens of thousands. All before they even enter the stadium.
Hairs shoot up and chills soar down when a simple three words signify the climax of the weekend’s events; to say “there’s a magic” that overtakes every onlooker in the house that Rockne built may even be an understatement. After months of empathizing with Charlie Brown, wondering if the first kick of a pigskin would ever truly come, the sound of “IRISH” following an eternity of “GOOOO’s” tingles terrifically as it trickles off the tongue. The missteps and mistakes that come with the Rakes of Mallow pair all too well with post-touchdown push-ups, as both sons and daughters alike cheer the Irish on to victory. And after that comes, once the clock strikes zeroes, there’s no feeling more tender, strong and true than linking arms and touching hearts as singing gives way to swaying.
That, all of that, is right where you left it.
The time has come. Football is back.
Welcome home, Notre Dame.