Allen: Bittersweet goodbyes

Hannah Allen, Director of Digital Media

I am notoriously bad at goodbyes.

Blame it on my sappy nature, or the fact that I’m from the South, where goodbyes can last for hours, but there’s something so permanent about saying those two syllables. 

As the day of commencement draws closer, I’ve been forced to reckon with a lot of goodbyes—goodbye to the home I’ve made for myself in Cleveland, goodbye to the life I’ve found the past four years and goodbye to the friends who have made all of the experiences worthwhile. This time, I have to say goodbye to The Observer and the best team that I have had the pleasure of knowing. 

I would love to say that my time with The Observer was an effortless match made in heaven, but that would be a lie. Between my countless journalism classes and departmental essays, the last thing that I wanted to do was spend my free time staring at more words on paper. I put off joining the organization for nearly two years, despite the valiant efforts of several Observer members and English departmental faculty.

This, like many other things, changed in spring 2020. The pandemic forced us all to return home, making any excuse to interact with other students seem like a worthwhile endeavor, even if it came at the expense of my routine sleep schedule. I finally decided to join The Observer on a whim, the night before the deadline for editorial applications. I stayed up all night writing six different letters of intent for six different editorial board spots. This would be the first of many late nights that I spent in dedication to this newspaper and I can assure you that my procrastinating spirit remains just as resilient as when I walked onto Case Western Reserve University’s campus four years ago. 

In the end, I was hired for a copy editing position, a job that continuously surprised me––mostly over the realization that college students still do not know whether the period goes inside or outside quotation marks. For the first six months, COVID-19 meant that the editing team remained completely online. I wouldn’t be able to experience the infamous production nights in person for another year. Instead, we would meet every Wednesday night over Zoom, and as the rowdy hours would slowly turn into comfortable silence, I found peace in being a part of something that so many people worked to make come to fruition. 

As COVID-19 slowly began to decline, we were finally able to see each other in person. The faces that once exclusively lined my screen were now able to join me on weekly Thwingo nights and bowling games. I was able to host the first of our video series, “Cocktails with Chris,” which would eventually lead to the establishment of our currently thriving video section.

I chose to go to South Korea for my second study abroad experience in fall 2021, and with a new country came a new position. I was now the newest Director of Digital Media of The Observer and although my time zone had changed, my love for the paper had not. The Observer kept me connected to campus when, at times, it seemed like I was taking on the world all by myself. When we lost Jim Sheeler, my mentor and The Observer’s academic advisor, it was former Executive Editor Nathan Lesch who called across the world to tell me the news. With red eyes, he stayed on the phone with me as I tried to process the loss of one of the best men that I’ve ever met. I was separated by 7,000 miles of land and ocean, but every time I called in on a production night, tuned in for a director’s meeting or sent out the weekly newsletter, I remembered everything that I had waiting for me at home. When I finally returned home in January of this year, I was able to enjoy the full benefits of being part of one of the oldest institutions on campus and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My only regret is that I didn’t join sooner.

The fact that it is so hard to say goodbye is a blessing. This bittersweet sadness is proof that I’ve been a part of something important. It remains a reminder of all the great people I’ve gotten the chance to befriend and the amazing things we’ve been able to create together.

Sure, I will miss bothering the editors with my ridiculous antics and the weekly Directors’ Meetings that always lasted longer than they should have. But when I walk across the graduation stage and say a final farewell to Cleveland and CWRU, I know that there is no better group of people I could have chosen to end my senior year alongside.