Nothing quite confronts me with my college mortality more than The Daily.
Back in the days before Tinder caught on and you could upload videos to Instagram, I used to be the sports editor of this fine publication, sitting at a desk with a picturesque view of the lakefill.
Now I’m just another old person with a bunch of “back in my day” stories.
In my Daily heyday, I could order Joy Yee’s Noodles for dinner, watch an episode of Homeland and play catch with fellow Daily staffer Joseph Diebold in the newsroom, all while editing the sports section and staying up until an ungodly hour on a Tuesday night, and then go right back at it the next day. (This may explain the poor quality of sports editing that quarter.)
Last week, I made it through about two minutes of dancing to “Uptown Funk” before I grabbed my hip and stumbled out of the bar and into the welcoming arms of Popeyes, went to sleep before midnight and woke up the next morning incapable of leaving my apartment unless I had some green tea first.
What I perhaps lack in youthful energy as I prepare to graduate, I make up for in super-sticky sappiness. It’s hard to quantify how much The Daily has meant to me. It’s the reason I was hired for my first paying journalism job. It’s the reason Alex Putterman and I played hooky for two weeks to cover a union trial in downtown Chicago. And it’s the reason I’ve been blessed with former Daily sports editor Colin Becht’s smile.
Of course, anyone who ever lived in these Daily streets would tell you it’s way more about what happens in the paper. It’s about the nightly trips to Starbucks, or the men’s eating club Diebold and I formed for a brief stretch of Winter Quarter 2013.
Looking back on the experience, it’s silly to think I even cared about the sports as much as I did. I was lucky to cover our first bowl win since 1949, travel to schools all over the Big Ten and interview so many interesting athletes. But none of those memories even come close to listening to the legendary Pop2K Top 20 Hits of 2006 countdown on the Daily road trip to Wisconsin, with me, Putterman, John Paschall, Steven Montero and Brian Lee harmonizing on “Money Maker.”
It’s those bonds—forged in late nights, road trips, hot gossip and coffee-fueled editing—that made me stick with this often-crazy job when a sane person would just try to get some sleep. It’s why I never took a night off when I was sports editor, because I hated the thought of missing out on what happened next.
There I go telling my old stories again. I’m lucky anyone other than my mom even listened, for these past 500 words or the past four years. I guess it’s time to start my real life, although it feels more like an end than a beginning, like I’m being sent to “a very comfortable farm” with all the other Daily graduates.
I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends.
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