The first article I ever wrote for The Observer was over three years ago and was about the artwork at Rising Star (remember that?). Last year, I read it for the first time since it was published, at Blue Sky Brews curiously enough, cringing at the amateur writing and the misprint, an incorrect quotation. So much has changed since the first time I walked into that coffee shop; the manager has called me his “most consistent customer,” with my iced black coffee with light ice, no lid or straw.
Sixty-one articles, three semesters as A&E editor and two as development editor later, it’s crazy to think I only joined The Observer because I wanted to get paid. This newspaper has provided opportunities for me that I didn’t know existed.
I’ve interviewed a comedian with a Netflix special, a poet whose Ted Talk garnered more than 15 million views, a fashion designer featured on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list, an Australian band who performed at Lollapalooza Berlin, the 15th best stand-up comic of all time according to “Rolling Stone” and a bassist who received a “Bass Player Magazine” Lifetime Achievement Award. I’ve talked to Lucy Hale, Yung Gravy, Alexander 23, The Hxliday and Jon Batiste.
I’ve been featured in Mike Watt’s travel diary and drove back with him to where he was staying after his concert. I’ve been backstage at Steven Wright’s dressing room and I took a selfie with him and KYLE. I’ve talked to local artists and bands and am still friends with the manager of a local band that I interviewed two years ago.
As a tour guide, I’ve found myself reliving a lot of my favorite moments at Case Westerm Reserve University. We walk out of the Lair in the basement of Wolstein Hall, where I’ve spent countless hours with dozens of tour guides, swapping stories about families and ranting about our lives.
I point out the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences across the street, where I had my first campus job as a library circulation worker.
We pass Clark Hall, where I took a sports journalism course taught by Denise Polverine, the director of digital at WKYC, with The Observer’s former Executive Editor Eddie Kerekes. It’s where I met Peter John-Baptiste of the Cleveland Browns and the late Fred McLeod, the former play-by-play announcer for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Next up is Guilford House, where I met Copy Editor Jackson Rudoff during my first year at CWRU when I asked to read his book in the two minutes before our first literature in English class because I didn’t come prepared. It’s where Jim Sheeler’s journalism class took place, which I took with Copy Editor Hannah Allen and former Development Editor Emily Young. It’s where I met award-winning journalist Andrea Simakis, co-author of “Case Closed.”
We pause at the light in front of Church of the Covenant where my friend and I spent countless hours at its cache thrift shop every Tuesday.
We stop at the CWRU sign by Ford Auditorium, where families always pause to take a photo while I recall when I spilled coffee and cursed in front of my entire statics class during my first year, in front of the department head of my major, and subsequently dropped the class.
We stroll past Nord Hall, where I scrambled to come up with pitches for A&E every Thursday, instead of attending my environmental thinking class next door. It’s where I had meetings for the Costa Rica team for the Humanitarian Design Corps. and spent way too much money at Einstein’s Bagels.
I point out Eldred Theater, hidden by the Agnar Pytte Science Center, where I covered several IMPROVment shows for A&E, taking notes between skits and begging cast members and friends for quotes after the show.
We walk past the Kelvin Smith Library, where we hosted meetings for Engineers Without Borders every week, a project I’ve worked on since my second year. Outside, at KSL Oval, I attended my first ever strike for Sunrise CWRU.
We stride past Thwing Center, where the Jolly Scholar’s karaoke and trivia nights are a distant, but pleasant memory. Downstairs lives the University Media Board office where I was introduced to the first Observer staff member I met, former A&E Editor Smruthi Maganti. It’s where I met current A&E Editor Shreyas Banerjee, previously only recognizable by his constant flow of 1,000+ word articles. There, every Wednesday, about a dozen members of the editorial board gathered around the absurdly long table, editing stories and complaining about AP Style. This routine never lost its rigor or urgency, despite moving to Zoom.
We walk into the Tinkham Veale University Center, where we had general body meetings for the Student Sustainability Council. Here, I also interviewed KYLE and partied so hard at a Jay Sean concert that my drunk friend didn’t even recognize him on stage.
We pass the North Residential Village Starbucks, where former Executive Editor and A&E Editor Matt Hooke sat down with me for a 40-minute training session before I embarked on my first production night, the start of a rollercoaster of 3 a.m. pitches with writers, frantic 6 a.m. edits and the numerous last-minute articles.
We walk past DiSanto Field, where the live streamed tours begin, a testament to the vitality of tour guides and the university. It’s a field I’ve seen from various angles, from my apartments in the Village at 115th House 5 and 7 and the parking garage where you can see the best view of the sunset.
And this is where it ends. The culmination of what’s supposedly the best four years of my life has been spent mostly on Zoom, alone in my Village apartment. But as I move on to the next chapter of my life, conveniently still in Cleveland, I know I’ll treasure the meaningful relationships I’ve built and endless memories I’ve made forever.