Somewhere between fumbling to lay out a map of print distribution and sending tweets and trying to write this column last night, the reality of everything finally hit me: For me and the other seniors here, this is it.
How I could possibly carry the weight of that in a column, I have no idea.
I tossed around a few topics. The NCAA and House Bill 2. Queerness in athletics. Whether fans can separate their love of Carolina basketball from the rest of what Chapel Hill is and believes.
There’s this Magic 8-Ball that sits on my desk in The Daily Tar Heel, and I think it’s been here longer than I have. I tried to ask it if any of these ideas were good — adding them to the slew of embarrassingly important questions a dollar store toy has counseled me on over the last few years.
It came back with, “Reply hazy. Try again.”
While I tried to buckle down and refocus in an empty room — what we used to call “back shop” a couple years ago — two tow truck employees knocked on the back door and asked if a Dodge Charger they were about to tow belonged to any of us.
It threw me back to the lecturing and inside joking about DTH parking that I first heard when I joined in spring of 2014 — a spiel repeated at just about every new staff orientation.
After I remembered that, I was hit with flashes of memory after memory of this place.
There’s my first semester as an assistant editor, copy editing the Dean Smith commemorative issue until two in the morning. And there’s this night 12 months ago, as the newsroom roared to life, then fell hauntingly silent in a matter of seconds.
Editors crying and hugging, sitting quietly to collect themselves — and then soldiering on through their jobs for another hour and a half.
When you spend 20 or 30 or 50 hours of your life with the same people in the same place every week, it’s eventually going to become part of who you are.
And like I can tell you what traits came from my mom or dad, I can also trace what parts of me came from this place.
My restaurant preferences are my co-workers’ last year. My notion of what constitutes a good party is my first-year editors’. My concept of busyness, my Circadian rhythm and how I weigh the importance of attending class are indisputably DTH.
And my love for Carolina basketball, no matter what they put me through in the second half of every God-forsaken game, is the DTH. My gradual indoctrination happened — semester by semester, story by story, sip by sip of blue Kool-Aid — between the desks of this newsroom.
And now, teetering on the edge of some big changes for this paper and my life outside it, last night was exactly the night I needed.
Sprawled out on my desk with a cider, surrounded by people I practically live with at this point, plugging through work as Franklin Street burns.