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I had heard the rumors. Central was under the knife for a long-awaited facelift, which had finally been put in motion. Then I drove down Erwin and saw it. All 100 yards of it. The monumental barrier they built as a reminder to the beautiful, sprawling lawns and magnificent architecture of the campus within.

I personally like to think of anything and everything as a possible metaphor. And if you ever needed a tangible Duke bubble, well, here it is. A giant “KEEP OUT!” to Durhamites and a few strategically placed bars for that nice claustrophobic feeling of incarceration that Central residents will embrace as much as they do their moldy air ducts, sickening fluorescent lights, fake tile floors.

When I was writing this, I went for dry sarcasm on my first go. Then realized it wasn’t working, which threw me off, ‘cause I have that down pat. But I thought why it might not be hissing out easily and had a revelation that I am actually excited to be back. And while I have learned to appreciate Durham, the reason I’m pumped to be here is that I love Duke. It took me three years to be fine with that.

I was the kid who never wore Duke tees and when asked where I went to school would reply “out east” or, if pushed, “in North Carolina.” I didn’t want to talk about basketball, our rivalry with UNC, or how everyone else seems to hate us. I honestly didn’t care. And while I remain indifferent about those three things, I no longer am able to shake off the monkey on my back—Duke. This school has become more of an influence on me than any other community, with the exception of my family.

I like everything I see when I walk through campus—the Chapel, Lilly Library, the tailgate lot, Edens 2A, the gardens, the Dillo. And the people. We have unparalleled school pride. We may have nothing else in common, but we do have Duke.

Next time you read me, I’ll probably be ranting about everything I hate about this place. But for now, while I still am overcome with this warm giddiness, let’s celebrate Duke. Who needs a National Championship. Let’s burn a bench for us.

Why is there a Duke bubble? Why not?

—Michael Woodsmall


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