Max Samson/Editorial Artist

For someone who’s constantly surrounded by words, it’s difficult now to find the right ones, to express what these past four years at Binghamton University have meant to me. Our time as students is so long, bogged down with tests and papers, and yet so fleeting at the same time. Back during freshman year, those first few weeks felt endless, and all I wanted was to just get through my time at college. Everything back then felt so transient, so disconnected from the rest of my life, so new and, at times, so lonely. College life was strange to me; you enter, you know you’ll have to leave when your four years are up and yet, you have to construct a home for yourself in those four years, separate, for the most part, from whatever you’ve known before. And I really didn’t know if I’d be able to; I always had trouble putting myself out there.

And it was tough, as I suspect it is for many college freshmen, but I’m glad I had to feel all of that, because it left me searching for real meaning from my time here. When I went to my first English class here my second semester, we started learning about the metaphysical poets and that was pretty much all it took — I did what I knew I’d wanted to do basically since freshman year of high school, and declared my English major. Since then, my classes have been at times my savior and at other times the last thing on my mind, but I’ll always be grateful to have studied something I loved, with a few professors who inspired me and made me love it even more.

But what really changed my life here was the moment at the start of my sophomore year, when I did what any newly declared English major would do, and I went to the college newspaper GIM. I could feel an energy in the Pipe Dream office. You know when you walk into someone’s home, and you can feel its history, how lived in it is, how many important moments have taken place there? That’s what I felt in the Pipe Dream office. It was different then, with decades-old couches and writing all over the walls, mismatched furniture and eccentric, unfamiliar personalities, but I felt something similar to that timelessness that had attracted me to my study of English in the first place. And when I found out there was a section of the paper specifically for editing grammar and spelling and correcting mistakes, I knew there was a home for me too — where all my neurotic, perfectionist anxieties were not only in good company, but necessary to making a good paper.

Still, I often felt like an outsider for a while. I would go to production, and the weirdest part of being a copy editor here is that it seems like you know everyone on staff, but no one quite knows you. I should mention how shy I was, how scared — and yet, how eager to be a part of things. Luckily, I had a Copy Desk Chief leading my section who saw that for me too, and encouraged me to apply to be on production staff. And my luck here never turned, because since then, everyone around me has encouraged me. I never had faith in my own leadership skills when I became Copy Desk Chief or when I was elected Managing Editor, but everyone else did, and I can’t thank you all enough for that.

There were a lot of parts of my college experience I could talk about here, but Pipe Dream has been the most meaningful. I’ve seen late, crowded nights and cold, lonely mornings in this office, and every now and then I’d find myself alone in here, looking through archived issues from the ‘70s, through negatives from when staff still used film cameras, through old photos of staff members at their desks in the office, and I know that my hunch, back in sophomore year, was right — that this whole paper is the result of so many people who have loved it and devoted so many hours to it, over years and years. And now, I can count myself as one of them.

Every ounce of effort I put into Pipe Dream has paid off, and I got to do it surrounded by people who became so important to me, and who taught me so much of what I now know. After each day of classes and work, I loved being able to come back to the Pipe Dream office, and to be able to have a home here. I could’ve had a regular sleep schedule or, who knows, maybe even have done my schoolwork on time, but instead I spent hours and hours in this newsroom, and I wouldn’t change a thing. All I can say is that I’m lucky to have found Pipe Dream at all. And I’m lucky that everyone else on our masthead found it at the same time, and I’m lucky all those who were here before us made it the place we know today. Through all the late nights and tough decisions, all the things we achieved and all the laughs, I owe so many of the good times I’ve had at BU to Pipe Dream.

And I can’t take for granted the people around me, who made my college experience what it was.

Emily, it’s going to be tough to leave the place where I found my best friend, but I’m comforted knowing that our friendship will remain long after we leave Binghamton. Meeting you at Pipe Dream Wine & Cheese in our sophomore year was one of the best things to happen to me, ever. I remember when we had dreams of being opinions editor and copy desk chief, and we did that, and then even went on to become the ones running this place. I couldn’t have done this without you — I mean, I can probably count on my fingers the number of decisions I made this year without consulting you first — and I have nothing but love and admiration for you. Thanks for always understanding. I won’t be calling you from across the room anymore, but I’ll still be calling you.

Shauna, my first Pipe Dream friend. What can I say? Thanks for hiring me. I’ve never met anyone else like you. When I realized your idea of copy section bonding was sleeping over my house, I should’ve known what I was getting myself into. Thanks for your unfailing love and support. Please always know how special your friendship is to me. I hope we’re friends for a long time to come, so I never have to pay for my own New Yorker subscription, but I hope we never work together again, because I’ll get nothing done. We should definitely retire together in 50 years, though.

Khaled. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone you’re secretly a sentimental guy. I’ll just say that I’m glad Cory tricked you into joining staff, that we sat right next to each other and that we talk about more than cereal now. You’re one of the smartest and most hardworking people I know, and you make my life infinitely more interesting. Thanks for taking every opportunity to show how much you care, for being patient with me and for staying all the late nights, even when you didn’t have to.

To Noah, thanks for teaching Emily and me everything about running this place, for your quiet dependability and for always being a phone call away. All year, I aspired to be as good of a managing editor as you were in one semester.

Sarah, you’ve done just about every job here, and you’ve done them all so well. I really admire you and have learned so much from you, and I can’t wait to see what your future holds, Mrs. Molano.

Cory, one of my favorite parts of this year was sitting right next to you. It’s been wonderful to watch you come further and further out of your shell. Whenever I hear the Animal Crossing soundtrack, I’ll think of you. And Max, your compassion and understanding is unmatched, along with your talent. I’m happy to call you both my dear friends now.

Amy, thanks for making us laugh through all the Pipe Dream scaries. Thanks for always reminding me to take a big old bite out of life and get a taste of everything.

Lia, my daughter. I know I’ll be leaving copy in good hands. Don’t take anything too seriously, and remember to enjoy yourself. Ariel, thanks for being the only one who was happy when I came back with Hots every week. Your positivity has been so important to this office. Jillian, I’ve watched you grow so much here since that awful discussion section we were both in — remember to always be who you are. And Gabby, I only wish we’d have been on staff together sooner. This office will always be your home when you need it, and don’t worry, I’ve arranged for someone else to trim your right thumb nail when I’m not around.

To Sasha and Katy, and all of next year’s staff, I’ve always believed Pipe Dream’s progress follows an upward trend, and you’re all the best people to keep it going. Sasha, keep your fearlessness always, but remember you always have people to fall back on. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Katy, you have everything you need to succeed next year. Use your voice — I suspect you’ll have lots of good things to say. Above all, to the both of you, remember that a little compassion goes a long way.

To Lauren, Lindsey, Allison, Nurit, Elise and Anna, you guys were there from the start, and I’m so happy for the time we spent together. Thanks for being like my family. Lauren, please know your friendship and generosity was never taken for granted, through the good times and the tough — though I do owe you an apology for spending all my time at Pipe Dream and not at home.

To Mrs. Matthews, my freshman-year high school English teacher. Years ago, when you believed in me and my writing, it helped me believe in myself too. Thank you for all your guidance since then. And thank you to those professors here at Binghamton who taught me new ways of thinking, feeling and expressing — I’ll value my education for a long time because of each of you.

To my mom and dad, sorry I’m not graduating as an engineer, but I still remember when you made everyone in the family read my college essay. Thank you for everything.

And for anyone who’s ever picked up an issue, thank you. Paying attention to this campus has always been our main priority, and I loved being able to use my time to help tell the stories of others. I hope we’ve used our voices for good.

Bridget McCusker is a senior majoring in English. She is the managing editor. She was copy desk chief for spring of 2018 and assistant copy desk chief for fall of 2017.