Thoughts on the way to the door

It’s getting awfully crowded around here. Last night, I looked up from the computer and saw the office filled with trainees, chattering away about their new jobs, their plans for next year. “Lee, do you get the feeling this isn’t our office anymore?” I asked.

“Yes,” she agreed ruefully. “It’s time for us to go.”

It is an odd feeling, a bit heady, a bit grandmotherly. I am grateful for my year at The Hatchet – and grateful that it’s over. I have loved my four years at GW – and I can’t wait to leave.

College is a peculiar creature these days. Walking among the ever-fresh blooms of campus, past exercise facilities, gourmet coffee stands and credit card booths, I often wonder: Are we joking? I understand that we do, indeed, pay for the frills and pillows. College is a business, and always has been in this country. Student-customers are horrified by all that is not luxurious on campus. But must we, the students, demand so matter-of-factly? Must we fuss louder about the quality of J Street food than about the quantity of volumes in the library? Do we really need cable in our dorm rooms?

I have always had an image of a student – the starving one, the one who pours earnestly over pages in the wee hours. There is a dignity and a grace to such figures – and other cultures have a place for them. Ours does not; we do not like to get our hands dirty and slink around discomfort. What we want is to be hired into careers lucrative enough to ensure the same for our own children. All right – but I think we have lost something.

But onward…

This job is not without its odd perks, and one of them is the chance to thank a few people publicly before the much-awaited march across the Ellipse. I know that I am the daughter not only of my works, but of the marvelous collection of people I have known.

I will start with the Spanish department, which I cannot praise enough. I particularly thank Profa. Azar and Profa. Echeverria. Azar exploded my entire understanding of language, introduced me to Don Quixote and offered suggestions on my short stories. Echeverria, meanwhile, uncovered modern Spain, led me into Unamuno’s mazes and helped unravel my tangled plans. Instruction and aid from the whole department – most notably Profa. Vergara, who managed to steer a year-long careen from medieval Spain to 1970s Colombia – have furnished my thoughts with landscapes and faces built from words. I hope GW realizes what a jewel it has tucked into the fifth floor of Phillips.

I have been at GW longer than I usually realize. When I start to comb through the four years here, and remember all of the friends I have had, those who have graduated and left the country and come back, those from home and those from Argentina, those I will walk with in a few weeks – they are dizzying. Thank you all, you’ve kept my days and nights lively.

My family has been fantastic, especially this year. Each of my parents amaze me, separately and as a pair. And they tolerate my ever-changing ideas with great indulgence. My sister/phone companion wrinkles her brow and rolls her eyes – but I suppose somebody’s got to keep me in line. Thank you for steadiness, selflessness, laughs – not to mention my r?sum?. My graduation is a celebration for the entire family – when I began the year, I didn’t know if they would all be there.

And now, let me tell you about my graduating co-workers. Tyson’s diplomacy has steered us through rainy crisis days. He has been a friend and an ear for each of us, and spent countless hours of time away from his artwork and his Gina without a wrinkle of impatience.

Lee – Where would we be without you? In high school, I had a belligerent Irish swim coach who lectured us ad nauseum on the merits of becoming “great ladies.” As I got to know Lee, it dawned on me that, at last, I had met a great lady. She is dignified, graceful, flits around the office like a nervous little bird. And without her, readers, you would have been given an entirely different – and inferior – newspaper.

And then Claire, who I met way back in Thurston days but never got to know until this year. She’s loud, funny and particularly bombastic with a few drinks in her. Underneath all that, she is generous and concerned, a great photographer, and a dear friend.

Monique is everybody’s Mom. Cursing, skipping church, smoking and drinking are all reprimanded with sharp sighs, glares and an occasional lecture. I will miss her. Heather and I shared a desk, some classes and some good conversations. She is a good listener, and it’s been pleasant in our corner of the office.

I could go on and on, but space is at a premium. So, to the non-seniors, you’re all wonderful, but I can’t sing your individual praises just now.

I never planned to be a Hatchet editor. When Tyson called and asked me to interview for the job, I couldn’t have picked his face out of a crowd. I’d read Lee’s byline, but had the impression that “Lee Rumbarger” was a man.

But I have grown to admire each of the editors for who they are and what they can do. A feeling born after a year of day-in, day-out cooperation, of shouting matches, of secrets told and favors done and feelings hurt and a million instances of silent gratitude and praise all mixed together in this crazy little townhouse.

But now, it’s time to hand over my desk to my worthy successor. Despite his unflagging Republicanism, I have every confidence that Dan will make me proud.

Every real ending is abrupt. Good-bye, all.-30-

-Megan Stack will spend the next year writing, reading ,working and applying to graduate school in Madrid, Spain. There she can make good use of her Spanish, salsa and sangria skills.

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