More Than the Morris Inn

Author: Lindsey Lonergan

I sit now in a green leather chair, hunched over my computer, writing nothings and somethings in a dimly lit corner of the Morris Inn. I’ve dubbed this corner a place of peace, providing a sense of home on campus that I never would’ve expected just two years ago. I used to think that peace was paired with serenity, and that serenity was something surreal, but that was before I was able to find true peace on campus. Somehow, the Morris Inn has always been my answer. Within these walls, I’ve learned that the employees’ jobs extend past the front desk and “check in” equates to more than just securing a room.

The first time I set foot into the Morris Inn, I thought it was a temporary stop on my way to USC. I had my roommate picked out, I had visited the campus and I was ready to wear shorts in “swinter.” It was my parents who — thankfully — encouraged me to visit Notre Dame just one more time. As we drove onto Notre Dame Avenue and turned into the Inn, I expected an ordinary stay. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The first person we met was Roger. He greeted my mother and me with a masked smile, and ushered us inside to get warm. While I stumbled out of the car in a post-airport state, Roger met us with a vibrancy that was contagious. Rather than simply helping us inside and taking us up to the check-in counter, he introduced himself and asked me about what brought us to campus. Little did we know that this small talk would be the bud of a friendship that would eventually
 nfluence my decision to go to Notre Dame.

During our trip, I walked around campus, met up with a friend who attended the school and did other typical touristy things that I now look back on and laugh about. While I was out attempting to make sense of things, my mom got to know Roger, Craig and the rest of the Morris Inn staff. One night, while I was hanging out with my friend, my mom sat and talked with Roger about his life. Roger had worked at the Inn for several years, and he shared stories about his work and his experiences on campus. In exchange, my mom talked about my little sister and my dad who were back at home waiting to see where I would end up for the next four years.

My last day on campus brought clarity. It wasn’t until this trip that I realized something had been holding me back throughout the entire college decision process. I realized that the factor tying me to USC had to do with comfort. Being from California, the school seemed like an extension of home for me. There were more familiar faces that would be on campus, the weather was just like home and, if necessary, my parents could be there in two hours, tops. But Roger had mentioned something to my mom that stuck with me. He had said to her, “Don’t worry Kim, we’ve got her,” and in that moment, we both knew he meant it. I wasn’t alone here in South Bend. It provided some relief for both of us regarding the unfamiliarity and unknowns that would come with my enrollment here.

And I’ve been better than okay. I enjoy my classes, have great friends and truly love the community of Notre Dame. I can’t picture myself anywhere else, and it all began at the Morris Inn. Even though Roger now has a new role at the university as the executive hospitality associate, our friendship has continued to grow, and the hotel still creates a welcoming atmosphere. We now exchange Christmas cards, he’s stopped by our tailgates to say hello and he’s celebrated me and my accomplishments. Roger was actually one of the first people to acknowledge my first article in Scholastic. He even sat with my parents after they said goodbye to me for the first time freshman year in the same chair I sit in now. To this day, Roger, Craig and others at the Morris Inn have acted as an extended family. Without them, I fear that I would be wearing red and yellow and sporting a sunburn in February. The individuals at the Morris Inn have truly helped make my Notre Dame experience incredible.