I still remember the very first time I saw the Notre Dame campus. I was 17 and a senior in high school on a college tour with my dad and twin sister. The date was September 29, which I only remember because it was my best friend’s birthday. I was annoyed that my dad was making me miss my friend’s party to visit a college that, at the time, held no special interest for me.
I remember the tour around campus- I was quickly taken with its beauty. We went to 5:15 Mass in the Basilica and the majesty of the old church was arresting. We saw bands of students walking to the pep rally, waving flags and cheering. They looked like they were having so much fun. We snuck inside Howard to see what the dorms looked like and a kind-hearted RA showed us around.
“There’s a chapel and a kitchen in every dorm,” she said. My sister and I perked up at that. We both love to cook. She worked as a chef for two summers, while I throw dinner parties and bake desserts for every possible occasion. Oh, and my puppy chow was the mainstay of every high school bake sale (puppy chow is a peanut-butter-and-chocolate concoction, for those of you who unfamiliar with the most addictive dessert ever made).
"Can we take a quick look?" we asked, scurrying into the kitchen before she could say "no."
In the kitchen we found two girls unloading groceries.
“What are you doing?” we asked.
“Cooking a dinner party for our friends,” they said.
My sister and I looked at each other. Harvard was cool and all, but they didn’t have kitchens in their dorms.
This is the place for us, we thought.
We stopped at the Grotto, which is now my favorite place on campus. I saw it for the first time that day. As I lit a candle, I considered what to pray for and knew immediately what I wanted most.
Please God, let me get in here, I whispered.
Later on, I sat on a bench on South Quad and thought about college. I watched people walk past and I looked up and down the quad. Could I live here for four years? I thought.
I pictured the magnificent Basilica and the cozy dorm kitchen. I remembered the cheering students walking to the pep rally and the warm glow of the Grotto.
Yes, I could.
Last Saturday, I stopped at the Grotto with a friend late at night. I knelt quietly and prayed for a little while. It was almost three years to the day since my first visit to the Grotto, the day I decided to apply here. Saturday night I lit a candle and thought, Thank you, God, that I go to this school.
When did you first fall in love with Notre Dame? Did you have a "love at first sight" moment?