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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

My own little corner of the world

Around spring break of this year, I felt inspired by a close friend and writer I admire. We had a conversation about daily journaling — something she had been trying to practice and something I had been wanting to do for a while. A few days later, I bought not one, but two journals, all set to begin this new routine, one that would surely make writing not only easier but also more enjoyable.

I took the journals back to Notre Dame with me, set them in my drawer and promptly did not open them for two months until I needed to write my commencement column for The Observer. What could have been pages of thoughts perfectly crafted for a farewell piece were instead painfully blank pages. Sigh.

Besides my apparent inability to form a new habit, my calendar often feels like my biggest enemy in this chapter of my life. One day, I have graduation marked — the day my undergraduate education will culminate in a ceremony with all my friends and family. Then there’s the day after, when I’ll leave a place I’ve called home for four years. And on another is the day this column is due. Right now, I’m not sure which feels more ominous. (Probably the latter, given that the day has already passed, friends.)

I wanted this column to be perfect. But perfect is overrated, so I guess I at least wanted it to feel like me. And if there’s one thing true about me, it’s that I’ve been writing on a deadline for this very paper for four years now, and sometimes… things get turned in late.

Another element of my writing style is that I come up with my column titles first and foremost — an element that shocks a lot of my colleagues. Deducing a general feeling into a phrase or a couple of words comes easily. Expanding that feeling into something a reader can understand... That’s the challenging part.

So, when I opened my blank journal not too long ago to brainstorm how to explain what Notre Dame means to me, I jotted down, It’s been like my own little corner of the world. Let’s roll.

One of my favorite things about Notre Dame has been dorm life. My four cozy (read: small) rooms in Breen-Phillips Hall have treated me well, offering a place of both solitude and friendship, a place for both silence and noise. It’s been one of the few constants in my life for the past four years.

It’s quiet on campus during senior week. I’m walking back to the dorm one night, and there’s no loud music, no people sitting on benches, no conversations drifting through the air. It feels like I’m the only person in the world. I think of a Taylor Swift lyric, “You can hear it in the silence / You are in love.”

For once, I don’t feel sad about graduation. Instead of hurting, my heart feels full. I wish I could capture that feeling and embed it in this column like a tweet. I open my Notes app and type.

When I think of the last four years, I see magic. A magic that’s come from joy and awe and anger and despair and heartbreak. It’s like a magic that’s been broken at times but still glimmers.

I keep walking. I eventually pass the Golden Dome on my way home and pause for a second. I say thank you in my head, thinking that somehow, everyone I’ve encountered because of Notre Dame can hear me. Or maybe it’s just a thank you to the physical place because, without it, none of the experiences the last four years would have been possible.

And I imagine — or at least hope — that Notre Dame’s saying back to me, “Thanks for coming. See you real soon.”

Alysa is graduating from Notre Dame with a degree in history and minors in journalism and digital marketing. This summer, she is shipping up to Boston to intern on the metro desk at The Boston Globe. This paper means the world to her, and she thanks you for supporting student journalism yesterday, today and forever. Contact her at 

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