Sam Salkin: It’s all in the family: finding the folks that matter

A laundry list of thank you’s and inside jokes have often been considered the norm when it comes time for Hatcheteers to say goodbye. Other people take time to wax philosophical and put it all out on the line for you. I think that my attempt might fall somewhere in the middle. But more than anything else, what I really want to talk about is family.

I think for a lot of people the attraction of going to college is little more than an escape from your family. Sure, some people do get homesick and call home a lot, but the biggest part about growing up in college is making the decisions that, more often than not, would have been made by your family before you first stepped foot in Foggy Bottom. From dumb minutiae like what to have for dinner to bigger, more expensive questions such as, where am I going on vacation, the family is quickly erased from the equation and make brief appearances at times like Thanksgiving and between semesters.

For me, this scenario really played itself out well until I went home for Thanksgiving my sophomore year. My parents picked one of their only forays into my real life to tell me they were getting divorced. The entire family equation was completely turned upside down. This kind of sucked for me. A lot. It didn’t turn me into a hermit or make me start drinking more, but it wasn’t exactly my first choice of how my college storyline would play out.

What I realize now, looking back, more than anything else during my time at GW, I have sought out (probably subconsciously) family. I didn’t find MILFs in Bethesda or grandma’s at St. Mary’s Court to cook me food. But believe it or not, the real secret to GW is that it is comprised of many, many families. Some are bigger, some are smaller and you might have to look hard for them, but trust me, they exist. So, let me tell you, in no particular order, about my families.

I was on Colonial Cabinet this past summer. You might read that and think “what a tool” or something along those lines. Think whatever you want. I had the privilege of spending the summer with a group of dedicated, energetic and interesting people. How could I ever regret that? To my Cabinet family: I’m sorry if I didn’t get as excited about khaki shorts and polos than some of us did. I’m sorry if I was taking things too seriously or not seriously enough. It’s not that I didn’t care. Trust me, I did. It’s just that pneumonia can take a lot out of you.

More than anyone else in college, the person I am most grateful to is some idiot sorority girl who asked me to sign a petition for her to run for the Student Association my sophomore year. In her feeble attempt to make small talk with my friends and me, she asked if we were involved in Greek-letter life (we aren’t), I impulsively said yes. Of course the next question is, what fraternity do we belong to? The next three words that came out of my mouth changed college forever. I replied, “Salkin, Salkin, Salkin.” She said she hadn’t heard of it and moved on, but my friends and I continued to crack up as we realized we had given birth to a fraternity based on nothing. Tri-Salk was no attempt to use lines from “Old School” about a fake fraternity, nor were we like a group of friends like everyone knew in high school that called themselves something (omg, the slutty six!).

Instead, we had created a name for ourselves that didn’t take itself too seriously or really mean anything other than what it was, a joke. I have been blessed with an unrivaled group of friends in college. These are the kind of guys that on a Thursday night with nothing to do, will drive to West Virginia to go to a third rate casino. For my 19th birthday, they baked me a cake that said, “Fuck You Sam.” The “k” was backwards. We set up a listserv through GW that only had one rule: If you’re going to say something, you have to say something messed up about eachother’s parents. Everyone has their group of friends in college, but I’m convinced that we have got to be the best one out there. You guys know who you are and know how much I love you.

At one point during my freshman year, I ran into my acquaintance Ben Solomon who was a measly Hatchet photographer at the time, and I told him that some day, he and I would run the paper. Well, it didn’t exactly work out that way, but it worked out. From day one, I was always pretty convinced that I was going to be an editor of some kind, it just took longer than I expected. I was passed over a few times and yet it never deterred me. I wanted to be a part of this family so badly and I had to find my own way in. That is why getting the opportunity to start my own section from scratch this year was one of the greatest opportunities of my life. At the start of the year, I knew next to nothing about editing audio and video. I might know a little more today. I know I’m leaving my baby of a section in the hands of two capable parents.

Still, The Hatchet has been so much more than articles and videos. I met the girl who was the best secret I’ve ever kept and is now one of the best friends I’ve ever had. I’ve had the pleasure to deal with Jake Sherman, who is constantly and simultaneously both the biggest asshole and single warmest person I’ve ever met. Eric Roper will be fine so long as he finally gives up on those Christopher Walken impressions. Brendan Polmer showed me how to funnel a beer freshman year and got me into a ton of shows for free. Still, nothing compares to the parallel parking job he did one night up on U Street. Joanna and Tim are more interested in my personal life than anyone I’ve ever met, and yet that never really felt that weird to me. These people, and everyone who I didn’t mention, know how much they meant to me. They’re family, through and through.

So those are my families. Not too glamorous or special, but they’re families. How could I ever forget to mention all of my fellow “Geographriends” from the geography department, especially professor Joe Dymond who showed me how great geography really is and warned me that I’d have to get used to explaining that I didn’t study state capitals. Hell, even Joe and the folks at GW Deli are family to me. You just need to look around and find these people. They’re there. You just need to make them yours.

And to my family family. You know, the family that was here before I got to GW and will be here after long after. Things are different now, no doubt. It’s okay. You were the ones who taught me how to be there for someone and to love. What can I say? Because of you Mom, Dad and Gabe, I’m a family man.


Sam Salkin was The Hatchet’s multimedia editor and has written for several of the paper’s sections. He started writing for The Hatchet in Sept. 2004.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.