Goodbye my little CWRU community

Joey Gonzalez, Life Editor

So my time at Case Western Reserve University is coming to an end, and a bittersweet one at that. While I have never been the biggest fan of Cleveland—an understatement as my hope for the last four years has been to leave this place as a distant memory in my rear-view mirror—I’m starting to feel a little saddened by the conclusion of my time here. Part of graduating means leaving the small little community that you’ve found yourself in. As we approach graduation, that realization is slowly starting to sink in. Cleveland has certainly provided me with plenty of memories to pass on, but in the end, it will be the people that I will miss the most.

Fresh-eyed first-year Joey would never have imagined me sitting in my room writing for a college newspaper, let alone a sad farewell piece. Four years ago I carved out an incredible community of people around me, and we certainly did not completely focus on academic success. But honestly, life was way more fun that way. I never took anything too seriously, except maybe my grades every so often when they needed my attention, and I really just wanted to enjoy my time. From impromptu Leutner trips to late nights playing video games, I had found a community of friends who have lasted with me through the stress of our four years here. And every so often, that community steadily grew, losing some members but gaining a ton more. The first person I met at CWRU and my freshman year roommate, Cedric, quickly became one of my closest friends here. The two of us were, and still are, two peas in a pod, always coming together after time apart like nothing changed. We ended up staying during the doomed spring break of 2020, where the two-week COVID-19 vacation turned into months at home. But we didn’t know that at the time and our goodbye was not made with the expectation that we wouldn’t see each other again that semester. The only benefit to that time was that my little community never saw distance as a problem, because we all continued to keep in contact. We had little Zoom movie nights and of course the occasional “Among Us” sessions to keep us occupied, just how we liked it.

After months of quarantine and living with my family, I decided I needed to return—even if it was Cleveland. I came back the spring semester of my sophomore year and it was definitely a rough time. With clubs and gathering practically at zero around campus, it was definitely a lot harder to stay involved. But one thing came out of it that would lead me to write this very piece—my introduction to The Observer. In one of my numerous online courses that semester, I was told that there were positions that needed to be filled and that semester, I decided to apply. Now I will say, while I enjoy my solo adventures, I definitely needed someone to join me, someone who I could complain about my work to, of course. So when a friend of a friend reached out to me and was searching for a club to join, I happily offered up The Observer. Sophie Popkin, my Observer work-wife if you will, gave me the motivation I needed to put myself out there and apply. And in the fall of 2021, I was welcomed into The Observer as a copy editor—a position that certainly came with its fair share of ups and downs.

I will say, my time as a copy editor taught me so much about both myself and my ability as a writer. I had no ambition of pursuing journalism when I joined; I really just needed something that would stand out on my resume. But The Observer, and the community involved, provided me with so many invaluable skills and opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. And the late nights in the University Media Board office brought me so much closer to the incredible people that make presenting news actually fun. Now, I did my fair share of complaining about my responsibilities, and that certainly hasn’t changed. But I claimed my role as the comedic relief, from AirDropping—or in the case of my director of print, Sara Khorshidi, texting (she has an Android)—memes to playing obnoxiously loud videos at 2 a.m. I found that I wasn’t dreading my Wednesday nights, but instead looking forward to them, even if it was just for the free meal. But, alas, in the spring, I said farewell to The Observer, at least for a time. My ability to balance all of my responsibilities was severely lacking and I decided to take a step back, a decision which The Observer team completely backed. I felt like I was letting everyone down but I needed to prioritize myself and frankly my sleep schedule. 

That was until I was asked to make my return, a comeback that no one saw coming. I decided someone had to be the sex appeal of the Editorial Board and became the new life editor. Honestly, my goal this year has been to have as much fun as I possibly could and the Life Section was the perfect place to do that. I don’t take much too seriously, and my responsibilities as an editor were no exception. So I decided to take on the challenge of finding the weirdest, most obscure events in Cleveland and write about them. The infamous Pickle Fest article was my first, and arguably greatest, attempt at this feat. It was the first event that I really felt showcased my own personality while also bringing the CWRU campus important, groundbreaking news. It brought me out of my comfort zone, physically and metaphorically—as I was violently hungover at the festival. But I continued to find my groove at The Observer, really feeling like an integral part of the community. I got to interview an international music artist and write numerous pieces on outlandish movies and tv shows. Most importantly, I got to work with some incredible writers and editors throughout my last year and I couldn’t be more thankful. So thank you for making my time here incredible, I will certainly miss some of you—just kidding, I’ll miss all of you. 

But I am not just leaving The Observer—I am saying farewell to Cleveland and the close knit community that I have formed here. Over my four years, the people around me have really shaped the person I am today, especially my roommates. Although I only truly live with three people, there are five of us. Alex, the evergentle problem solver who always has something nice to say, even if she isn’t paying attention to the conversation in the first place. Dagny, the rambunctious jokester who always accompanied me on my PokemonGo walks and an avid unapologetic Weezer fan. Next there’s Ally, our unofficial roommate who never ceases to help herself to our fridge and who is always ready for a night out, dancing her way through the club while completely sober. Her contact is the only one pinned on my phone so you know she holds a special place in my heart. Destiny is the fourth, but certainly not the least, who always refers to me as her emotional support dog but honestly I think it works the other way around. From late nights laying in my bed to being forced to enjoy my Minecraft builds, I love Des with all my heart and I am so glad to have her in my life. And finally there is Bowser Junior, our collective emotional support cat whose infatuation with bread is quite frankly insane. He never fails to find a piece of plastic to chew on or bite our legs as we’re walking by as if he pays rent. These are the people—and the cat—that make up my small little world at CWRU and I am so grateful for them. 

And just like that, my time at CWRU has been brought to close. Only 1,500 words to summarize my entire four years here and it barely scratches the surface of everything and everyone that has made my time memorable. And while the realization of it coming to a close has not yet kicked in, I understand that this will be goodbye to my little CWRU community in Cleveland. If you’re a part of that, thank you. I may not appear like it, but I truly and deeply thank each and every one of you for being in my life—it means a lot. And if you aren’t, I hope you enjoyed this nonetheless.