As the sirens wail and the ambitious millions rush around my New York City home, I will always hold a place in my heart for the wide-open sunsets and self-assured quiet of my beloved Midwest.
Sara Felsenstein recalls her grandmother in this article, which was awarded an honorable mention in Notre Dame Magazine’s 2015 Young Alumni Essay Contest.
The scene is so absurd. It’s 9 a.m. in New York City and thousands of people rush, straight faced, to wherever they need to be. And then there’s Geoff, relentlessly happy, sending sparks of enthusiasm to anyone who walks by.
Over the years, Lula’s was called “the community living room” and “the gateway to South Bend,” and “the place in Michiana where people come to try to save the world.” Lula’s embraced open-mindedness, encouraging its customers to sit, talk and stay awhile.
Not much mattered but the path before us. As we set out towards the Grotto those Sunday nights, unfinished schoolwork seemed as distant as the dock on St. Joseph’s Beach.
Some would say bartenders John Pelan and Harold Kelly had the best spot in the house that New Year’s Eve. All night, off in an alcove behind their simple makeshift bar, Pelan and Kelly poured foaming pitchers of Budweiser and stirred up the occasional whiskey and ginger ale. A radio in the corner spouted updates from the Notre Dame-Alabama national championship game.
It’s 3 a.m. now. The laptop heats up and the fan starts going, puncturing the silence. Nothing exciting is on Facebook anymore but you keep “watching” it, blankly, blindly, your fingers dragging languidly down the touchpad.
We realized there is a clear disjointedness to those two lives, college life in the Midwest and home life outside of New York City. Those two lives don’t seamlessly meld into one another, but rather seem to be self-enclosed bubbles of months or years, sharing adjacent positions on the timelines of our recent pasts.
Twelve years ago, we had barely purchased our first bulky Dell, much less consider taking the morning news from a backlit screen. Twelve years ago, we still had dial-up Internet, woefully barren email inboxes and asked Jeeves instead of Googling. A lot has changed in 12 years. That’s why my mom recently sat my dad down at the kitchen table to bring up a two-word, volatile phrase in my household: digital subscription.