Thank You, and Goodbye

shannon kelly

I arrived at Boston College on Aug. 28, 2015. I set down Space Bags full of linens and sweaters on the mint green mattress in 90 St. Thomas More room 401, a memory book and picture frames littered among clothing. I said goodbye to my family, who despite the four-hour drive up from New York was ready to leave after 20 minutes. I sat on the bed, still uncovered, thinking about what to put on my walls. I wasn’t allowed to put up posters in my room as a kid, save for a paper cutout of David Archuleta from The New York Post when I was 11. But before I unpacked, I got a text from Michael Sullivan, then the sports editor. There was a men’s soccer game at 4 p.m., and I could sit in the press box. I loved it—tweeting out the play-by-play, writing during halftime, talking to the coaches after. I wrote my first article on Aug. 30. I’ve been working for The Heights ever since.

There are some things that are so difficult ascribe meaning to, because those things tend to matter only to the smallest groups of people, or maybe just yourself. My best example of this is knowing that somewhere in the world at some point, a couple has used the full, eight-minute and 44-second cut of Don McLean’s “American Pie,” a song about celebrities dying in a plane crash, for their first wedding dance. For them, it must have made a lot of sense. Maybe they were big fans of memorializing Ritchie Valens, or the way McLean sings, “Can you teach me how to dance reeeeeal sloooow.” Or maybe they heard it one time and that was the moment they fell in love, and no matter what it was destined to be their song. I don’t know.

To people who only see the words we put on the page or on the internet, The Heights as a student organization can sound like a waste of time, an outdated means of distributing information, or just something that doesn’t deserve a lot of attention. But I’ve fashioned an entire world within the walls of McElroy 113, something that maybe 40 people understand, but never in quite the same way. The Heights is my “American Pie” as a first dance. Everyone has one of these, whether it’s your 4Boston placement, or your quad in Fitzpatrick that roomed together for the next four years, or the three months you had in Barcelona when everything was in Spanish even though you only demonstrated intermediate proficiency. This newspaper defines my life at BC, whether I like it or not.

BC will always be intertwined in my head with the students and professors I’ve interviewed, the deflated-looking navy couch in the Heights office, the nights I spent typing 90 words per minute the night before a special issue, the days I sat staring at a Google Sheet trying to come up with ideas, and carefully adjusting text boxes in InDesign, a skill that I never mastered. I made meaning here through slashing other people’s words and adding em-dashes with red pen and asking people I’d never seen before questions about their lives. I got comfortable writing silly columns that people thought were real (I don’t think anyone has ever sent me an email asking me for advice). A trip to a movie theater couldn’t happen without thinking, “I should review that.”

I would also like to take this column to thank a few people. Firstly, thank you to my compatriot in the features section, Archer Parquette, who grimaced at a lot of the jokes I made and is probably grimacing now, reading this. You are one of my greatest friends and we survived a great many things, namely co-writing a novella, coming up with the fish story last-minute, and the distinct lack of Payday bars because it is a candy from 1932. The section will be in good hands with Joan Kennedy, Brooke Kaiserman, and Timmy Facciola next year—we believe it.

Thank you to the sports section for always keeping the door open for me, to BC women’s hockey for being such an electric team to watch, and for Lizz Summers, the team’s sports information director. One of my favorite memories of my college career was driving up to Durham, N.H. three times round-trip to cover the Eagles in the National Championship and the Patty Kazmaier Awards. Photo editor Julia Hopkins and I talked the whole two hours up, even though we’d never really spoken before. We picked out a bridge that we passed by on the bus that was our marker for the rest of the trip, which I point out every time I drive on the I-95 N. I think of Riley Overend driving us up the next day at 7 in the morning and accidentally breaking the car, and how the office consoled Julia and me with White Mountain when the team lost. The sports section, from Tom DeVoto and Jack Stedman to Riley and Annabel Steele and Andy Backstrom and honorary member Keaton McAuliffe, will always hold a special place in my heart.

A special thanks to the graveyard of stories I never got to publish, from games that turned out different to the 3,000-word tirade I wrote about the Dirty Dancing remake. I guess the lesson there is that no one will ever get to see your some of your passion-filled work, but sometimes that’s for the best. Another extension of gratitude to the hundreds of PR representatives and managers that email the features section weekly—even though we never wrote about you, I’m really rooting for the staggering number of Americana folk bands we still have in our society. Also a shout out to New Hong Kong, which delivers to the Heights office without fail and whose dumplings are excellent.

I am thankful for almost everyone I met here. You have all given me the opportunity to make a fool out of myself and tell jokes every day. Sundays will always mean a time and place to go home after a long week and sit around and talk with my favorite people. I’m thankful that it brings people together in a way that your whole life is affected by it. Kaylie Daniels, a copy editor with me when I was a sophomore, is now my roommate. We were thrown together with Connor Murphy, nothing in common save for a general knowledge of The Heights’s style guide. At this university of 9,500 people, this newspaper managed to introduce me to my best friend, the 2018 editor-in-chief.

There are also a lot people I felt like I just didn’t get enough time with, like Madeleine D’Angelo, who acted quiet for two years until she realized she was going to Paris for four months following her departure from The Heights and just burned every bridge and started inviting me to do things with her (this is, of course, just my interpretation of the events, so I could be wrong). She’s one of my dearest friends. I’d also like to thank Jacob Schick and Steven Everett, who transcend comedy and whom I adore. Also Caleb Griego, who by the time this is published probably will be halfway to Bermuda or something, but who is also someone who has been one of my best friends for two years but doesn’t get any of the credit.

Obviously it’s a lot to step away from something that has taken up my entire career at BC. For most other clubs, the separation period happens around the same time the rest of the goodbyes happen—your last meeting or event takes place in May, just before finals, Commencement Ball, and graduation. The whole year leads up to that, sure, but it’s not like you’re being introspective about it early. But for me, I have to be, because this is ending, and while this isn’t my last piece for The Heights (I have movie reviews for Father Figures and Blockers penciled in, as well as a potential run for the National Championship with women’s hockey, so I’m not gone forever), I have to think about where I’m going next. And truthfully, I don’t know. How do I fill up my Sundays with work or lying in bed watching Chopped when it was always the best day of my week because I was around the most incredible people writing about other incredible people and things? It’s sad. Some of my plans involve brunch with the same people I’ve spent my Sundays with this whole time. Others involve having a very hectic but rewarding internship (Application still open! Please email [email protected] if interested in giving me a job; will work for academic credit!). Most involve actually doing assignments ahead of time.

But even though it’s sad, it’s also exciting. Sometimes new chapters in your life are marked very clearly by images of caps being thrown up in the air or walking up the aisle of a church or an email from the company you’ve always wanted to work for saying “Congratulations!” (I can’t confirm that’s how an email about a job offer would look). I have had three days on this campus when I haven’t unofficially or officially worked for The Heights. But a new chapter for me is starting right now, even if it’s kind of messy and blurry around the edges. I have 140 days left of BC without The Heights. And I’m excited.

 

About Shannon Kelly 81 Articles
Shannon Kelly is the assistant features editor. One day she'd like to get paid to be funny instead of being funny for free for this newspaper or on Twitter @ShannonJoyKelly. (The irony of her middle name is not lost on her.)