Holding on to memories
Senior Staff Writer
I didn't want this column to be just one more in a long list of columns about saying goodbye. Despite the fact that I have lots of wonderful memories here in South Bend, I didn't know how many of you would share similar ones. And, if you do understand them, you have plenty of your own. You probably don't want to read about mine.
So, instead, I've decided to offer a suggestion for how to hold on to those memories. I'm not offering ideas for scrap books or photo albums. Instead, I'm offering a suggestion of how to hang on to your old memories and make a few new ones. So, here goes.
It is about holding on to memories.
It isn't about sappy recollections of first days on campus or last moments under the Dome.
It's about all those things we love about Saint Mary's and Notre Dame.
It's about leaving behind all those things we don't love.
It isn't about the smell of ethanol on Sunday morning when you wish you had stopped drinking just two shots before. It isn't about unescorted males, detex cards or balls of wax, even without the wick. U.T.P. is not about bad meals, bad memories or bad phone numbers you shouldn't have gotten the night before. U.T.P. isn't about 8 a.m. finals.
U.T.P. is about waking up way too early to start drinking. It is about toasting everyone and everything you know. It is about cooking five-cent hotdogs on a grill you borrowed from your parents.
But more importantly, U.T.P. is about being alumni.
But what is U.T.P.? Easy.
Ultimate Tailgate Party.
Two years ago when my sister graduated, she and her friends started thinking about what would be the appropriate gathering for her and her friends. Trips to teashops or even shopping malls didn't seem to quite fit the bill. But then they had an idea.
But as far as Molly was concerned, it wouldn't be quite ultimate enough until my friends and I hit the big graduation mark and joined in.
So U.T.P. was born. Two RVs, two days and two sets of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's grads.
But what's important is that it is not just about drinking or football. U.T.P. is about something more.
It's about being "those alumni." You all know which ones I'm talking about — the alumni who come back from around the country, play music way too loud, laugh too much and always end up at The Backer. It's the alumni who hit every place on campus that holds some memory for them, still do all the cheers and chants with the students, but laugh at themselves when they get laughed at for being old.
Because, well, I just figured out being old and being alumni is OK.
When college ends, we have an opportunity to move on and make new memories somewhere else. But the thing is, we can still make memories here.
That's what U.T.P. is about. It's about finally being old enough that security won't card us or write us up for being students who are having a tailgate. It's about laughing about all of the stupid things we did when we were freshmen and were still trying to impress everyone of the opposite sex. It's about running into those guys from sophomore year who you accidentally impressed and then tried to hide from for the next three years. But this time, when you run into them, you can stop and say hi because it's an old memory.
U.T.P. is about calling home and letting Mom and Dad know you're going to a football game, but not having to ask permission because you're finally out on your own. It's about finally understanding how Mom and Dad, who are both alumni, feel when they come back to campus, look at the new buildings and say "this isn't quite the Notre Dame I remember."
It's about understanding your family who graduated and make you stop at "their rock," talk about stealing the sign in the book from Saint Mary's, or recall Senior Death March one more time. It's about understanding that and doing it yourself.
U.T.P. is about remembering why you came to Saint Mary's or Notre Dame in the first place. It's about being allowed to say "I had a great college experience" without everyone laughing at you. U.T.P. is about the spirit of two universities that have something no other university will ever claim — they have alumni who want to have a U.T.P.
So next football season when you're wandering around the tailgate lots, look for the two big RVs with some recent grads who look like they're having too much fun.
And stop by and remember with us.
Katie McVoy is a graduating senior and former Associate Sports Editor.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Friday, July 11, 2003