One of the top items on my bucket list is to get to all 50 states by the time I’m 50. So far, I’ve been to 25.
Because of this goal, and my family’s aforementioned penchant for historical travel, ten summers ago we skirted the beach and the Disney vacations our neighbors were so fond of, and went on our great
American Midwestern road trip.
We visited Lexington, KY, Nashville, TN, St. Louis, MO, Chicago, IL, South Bend, IN, and Sandusky, OH all on the same trip.
When we took that trip ten summers ago, I was 13 about to enter the eighth grade. Ten summers ago, American Eagle, Abercrombie, and Hollister were my holy trinity. Ten summers ago, I definitely would have never guessed my first work trip would bring me back to the Midwest.
(I was going to be living in Los Angeles, California in my Spanish-style home after all.)
Yet here I am. Or at least, where I’ll be when my flight takes off for South Bend, Indiana at 4:36 pm from DCA.
(For my fellow travelers—I’ll be the one in the leopard cardigan drinking Fiji water.)
I realize most 13 year olds would have never been psyched about going to Indiana for family vacation. And I realize most 23 year olds—barring all the Notre Dame alum out there—would not be psyched about going to Indiana for a work trip.
But guys, I’m not going to lie—I was excited about going to Indiana then. And I am definitely excited about going back now.
Besides the fact that I love airports and the subsequent excuse to read trashy magazines and pay $3 for luxury bottled water, I’m looking forward to Indiana because I know in someway or another, a little piece of me is from there.
Growing up, my Grandpa never let us forget two things—the fact that he loved being a Naval Aviator, and the fact that he was from South Bend, Indiana. In his eyes, we were from South Bend, too. (Thankfully he never considered us Naval Aviators.)
You might not expect anyone from South Bend to be so proud of where they were from. But man, my Grandpa was proud.
I don’t remember much of my last excursion to Notre Dame’s campus and the drive by the house my Grandpa was born in. But I’m glad I get a refresher course on what truly is my family’s first American hometown tomorrow when I head on-campus for some interviews.
Who knows where my work trips will take me in the next ten years, or what I’ll think of 23-year-old me as a (*hopefully*) wiser 33 year old.
But I do know two things will still be true—my Grandpa will be cheering for/cursing Notre Dame football in Heaven, and leopard will still be my favorite neutral.
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