Column: Thanks for the memories, but I’m not going to say the “g” word just yet

By Lauren Leazenby, News Editor

Sedona Steffens

In my camera roll—between a photo of an empty dorm and that moose mural on Wabash Avenue—there is a photo of the Columbia Chronicle sign just outside the office: “We’ve got you covered.”

The photo is from early 2016, which seems almost impossibly long ago. It is tangled among my memories of seeing Columbia for the first time, and the part of the tour I remember picture-perfectly was walking into the Chronicle office.

I was a junior in high school, and the only thing I knew was that I liked to write stories. I could write a million now about late Friday nights and afternoon runs for bubble tea. About escape rooms. About exploring the city and covering events. About friendships. About homework and internships. And that one time a few of us went all the way to Old Town for sushi at 10 p.m.

It is hard to believe that these stories are memories now.

I don’t know why it took me until my third year at Columbia to apply for the Chronicle. I didn’t want to fail, I guess. I don’t know what could have happened if I had applied a semester or two earlier, but I know that I don’t regret the decision to wait.

The Chronicle has given me some of the most amazing connections, but none as grand as Dyana Daniels. Desk mates on day one and work wives pretty much every day since. Dyana made my experience at the Chronicle more than just a job. But I’m not worried about leaving our friendship at the Chronicle office door—we’ve already made travel plans for our retirement.

It’s so weird to say goodbye because–physically speaking—I’m not going anywhere. I’m not cleaning out my desk and gathering my things for the last time.

On my last day, I’ll simply sign out of accounts I will no longer have access to. Just as my anticipated “graduation” will be turning in a final virtual assignment, this, too, seems unceremonious.

To me, the sadder thing was leaving everyone at the Chronicle months ago. In March, we could not imagine we would be apart this long. I actually added it up: I have worked for the Chronicle remotely almost as long as I sat in the office on the second floor of 33 E. Ida B. Wells Drive.

My experience at Columbia will always be inextricable from my experience at the Chronicle. And this has been a crazy, joyous ride. I have written so many stories I would have never had the opportunity to otherwise, and I have grown as an editor, writer, reporter and overall human.

Kendall Polidori and Mari Devereaux, I love what you two have done with the place. I’m so excited to see where you are going to take it from here. Know that while it may be from the sidelines, I’m rooting for you all the way.

My friends—there are so many that I should just simply link our staff page—I have missed you all already. And I will miss you again.

I know this is where I say goodbye, but I refuse to do so until I can see you all one last time.