Walsh: The house that Holly and John built

Charlotte Walsh, Daily Senior Staffer

Graduation Issue 2021

I didn’t join The Daily because I wanted to. I joined because it was the only club that would take me.

When I got to Northwestern my freshman year, I was the most depressed I’d ever been. I felt lost, looking for a home on campus that somehow resembled the tight-knit group of friends I’d had in high school. In my head, I mapped out the best places on campus to cry, and would visit them in between classes (if you’re interested, the willow on the Lakefill is wonderfully semi-private).

In my quest for meaningful friendships, I tried to join as many clubs as possible, though everyone who knows me knows I’m not particularly passionate about satire or tennis or fashion writing. But I’m sure recruitment chairs could smell that desperation, and I was rejected again, and again and again (and again, and again and again). So I went to the one place I knew had an open door policy: The Daily Northwestern. I wrote my three stories, graduated devo and watched upperclassmen chit-chat in the newsroom while I sat on Norris’ third floor couches.

But The Daily, for all its flaws, did more than take me in — it gave me the home I was so desperately looking for. On those third floor couches, I found some of my best friends, giggling as we shared a love for middle-aged women, moderated by Andy Cohen, yelling at each other and munched on second dinners from Norbucks and the Kiln. I discovered that I really loved slashing articles to bits, and then rebuilding them. I learned secrets (some from a basket), and then told some of my own. I watched Taylor Swift music video premieres, drafted and charted Daily editors in every configuration possible and sang the praises of the Garden State to anyone who’d listen.

On the last night of pub in Winter 2020 — the only one I was ever able to stay up all the way through — Andrew, Peter and I stole away some time in the 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. range and ran over to Main Library. I don’t remember if we had work to do or just wanted to get out of the newsroom, but we ended up on one of the computers, loudly messing around on Facebook. In an attempt to embarrass Andrea, we found a photo of her from freshman homecoming, sweetly posing in her glasses and a cardigan (to keep it appropriate). We combed through the bottom of our Instagram feeds and our mothers’ social media accounts to find equivalents for everyone — giggling gleefully at eighth grade trips to Washington D.C. and middle school mall photo shoots — and printed them out in black and white glory.

When we got back to the newsroom, we made a big show of plastering the photos on the walls just as we, unknowingly, were about to leave them forever. Though many attempted to take them down, those images sat there the rest of the night, as we drank wine, practiced TikTok dances and watched the sun rise. They also sat there, collecting dust, through the many months of quarantine, as the campus was shut down due to the pandemic, happy faces who didn’t know what lay ahead.

Now, back in the newsroom to help put together the graduation issue, the photographs are gone. Many other tacked-up memories remain: a tweet about the dot com, a portrait of the Laidy Northwestern a.k.a. the Real Housewives, all my favorite Monthlies. But as I think about those pictures now, I find it strange that those people didn’t know The Daily yet, didn’t understand it as something that would consume their college career, mostly for the better.

Now, I don’t need the newsroom as a physical home anymore — it’s pretty much a closet, after all. Instead, we have Vintage Splendor, or the Pratt Street porch, or the Garnett ping pong table (or even mini golf, despite my bad luck). So, to anyone looking for your home on campus, I encourage you to find the places that’ll just take you, because it’ll end up so much better than you expect (and you’ll find much, much better company than the willow on the Lakefill).

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @charwalsh_