When I thought about writing my senior column, I knew I wanted to tell a story. I wanted to tell a good one, one that summed up my weirdly deep affection for you all, because my experience at Pipe Dream deserves nothing less. With my limited writing skills in mind, however, I knew my ambition far exceeded my ability. In addition, when I sat and thought about it, between the countless late night productions, New Orleans, wine tour, wine and cheese (I guess we like wine?), camping out in the office due to snowstorms, even road trips to Albany, I knew I couldn’t choose just one. So I decided to go tell a different story — one that many of you in the office may not be familiar with my journey to Pipe Dream, rather than the one within it.

I have been drawn to photography for a long time, and for a very short set of reasons. First and foremost, my dad bought his own digital camera, a clunky, ugly-looking Panasonic, when I was in the sixth grade, and what sixth-grade kid doesn’t want to be like his dad? Secondly, as someone who is color-blind (shout out to you, Mom & Papa, for the solid genes. Rest easy big guy), I didn’t inherit the talent for art that some of the other members of my family have, and have always been somewhat jealous. “Taking pictures is kind of like drawing or painting, except it does it for you!” so my logic went. Third, for the first 20 years of my life, my electronics budget had been roughly one zillion times more than my food, clothing and leisure budgets combined. Priorities, man.

I saved up for my first DSLR by pooling three Christmases worth of gifts. Little did I know that a patient investment at the beginning of high school would be paying dividends through my entire college career. As a biochemistry major, I joined Pipe Dream for a different reason than most of the kids here on staff (the quality of this column should make that fairly clear). I had little to no interest in journalism or photojournalism as a career. All I knew was that during my freshman and sophomore years here at Binghamton, I wasn’t entirely happy with the set of friends I had made up to that point in my college tenure, which was something that I had never experienced socially in my life before.

Enter Dan O’Connor. He quietly changed my life, although he doesn’t realize it. But let’s start at the beginning: Sophomore year I was a total geek and listened religiously to the Science Times podcasts — these free science podcasts narrated by the incomparable David Corcoran, Science Times editor at the New York Times. I guess I still am a geek because I still listen to that shit on the reg (but now I have friends, right guys? Guys?). Anyway, David Corcoran actually came to campus that year, so naturally I was pleased as punch. I got my free NYT swag upon entering the Mandela Room, took my seat with Taco Bell from the Union in hand (important) and waited with bated breath for David to make all my wildest dreams come true. Mr. Corcoran starts talking, but before the end of his first beautiful sentence I started to hear, “beep … beep … beep.” It was Dan (who I didn’t know at the time) taking pictures for Pipe Dream, but he hadn’t turned the beep function of his camera off. The nerve. Looking forward to this event for so long, I was only slightly enraged. “Someone’s gotta tell this guy to stop,” I said to myself. “I can do that job better.” So, a couple of weeks later, I gathered my courage, walked into the office and the rest, as they say, is history. Sorry DO’C.

There are a few acknowledgements I would like to make as well.

First and foremost, Mom and Dad — I know I never call enough. I’m sorry, I just never want to disappoint you guys. I love you.

To Keith, dude you’re the man and I’m incredibly lucky to have you as a brother, but letsbehonest I think we both know you’re luckier to have me as one. Your wedding shall be interesting. Also PD loves you.

To Grandma, Papa, Nana and Hadia, thank you for supporting me through my life. A day doesn’t go by without me thinking about how much you mean to me and how much I deeply appreciate it.

To my Pipe Dream family, past, present and future — I wish you nothing but happiness, fame and fortune.

To the lunch crew that almost was — Xtina, Zack (yoohoo) and Ari — You guys are truly magnificent, and helped me stand at points this year when I couldn’t do it myself. I do realize how much you put up with, and I will never forget that.

To Paige, Becca, Blorth, Geoff, Nick, Cari and everyone on staff — I love you all (yes, even you, Froyo), and I don’t think you all realize how much I cherish just our simple, day-to-day interactions. It’s our paper but the newbies can take it away from us if they must, I suppose.

To the NOLA crew — I can only sum it up with a quote: “Bro, take me back” — Ari Kramer, literally every weekend since we returned to Binghamton.

So there you have it — my first, last, best and worst piece in a Pipe Dream issue. It’s been a time, guys, and I will miss you all.