I’ll never forget what my father told me after our first, particularly atrocious golf outing.
“Golf is a sport for men who want to look like they’re more than they are.”
Sour grapes from a pair of sorry golfers? Most likely. So of course, I was shocked when he brought home a pair of clubs for me later that week. But I did want to learn, and someone was willing to give me free lessons.
Free-ish. The deal was I’d cover a few golf tournaments for him, write a couple of articles, and in return, get that elusive backswing down.
It was one hell of a bait and switch, and I’ve been writing ever since.
I’ve also yet to cash in a single golf lesson. I never felt like I belonged at country clubs unless I was glasses-deep in my steno pad. I left for Binghamton that summer, and I’ve never quite felt like I belonged here, either.
Joining Pipe Dream and becoming a journalist actually came naturally. I constantly felt like an outsider looking in. I was getting a peek into a world that I knew I’d never belong to, but one that nonetheless embraced me — all from the view of my little corner in the office.
There were times when I rejected this embrace — many, actually. I wanted to be more than I thought I was becoming. To see myself, to be listened to and taken seriously, to be, or at least look like, more than I thought I was. More than anything, I wanted to leave that damn corner.
And when it was all too much, I wanted to leave Pipe Dream and Binghamton before they edited me out.
Choosing abandonment before facing rejection is probably why my golf clubs have sat in a bedroom corner for four years. But somehow — in a first for me — I mustered the courage to leave my corner.
And chalking it up to “somehow” is probably unfair. I can’t tell if I’m cursed or fortunate to have my biggest flaw double as my biggest blessing: It’s never been hard to find people who want more for me than I want for myself.
If it were up to me, right now I’d be a morally conflicted soldier marching toward an unsure future in the name of unattainable masculinity. Maybe I would golf on the weekend too. But mom and dad wanted me to go to college, Mr. Honicki wanted me to be a storyteller, Dr. Moore wanted me to be a writer and Ari wanted me to be on Pipe Dream.
Ashley wanted me to think, E.Jay wanted me to have heart. Rachel, Jacob and Nick wanted me to be a leader.
Franz wanted me to speak, Rohit wanted me to be strong, Mike wanted me to be available.
Shauna wanted me to be correct, Henry wanted me to be up to speed, Teri wanted me to go faster.
Orla wanted me to be understanding, Odeya wanted me to be kind, Caleb wanted me to be punny (and fly), Alex wanted me to get back on topic and, finally, I wanted to be me.
Now, I just want to say thank you.
Alex, Caleb and Orla, I’m so thankful for having the chance to work with each of you. I’m proud of everything we’ve said and you’ve done this year. I didn’t deserve it, but thanks for giving me a chance. You’ll never know what that meant to me.
Odeya, I used to see kindness as a weakness. Thanks for proving me wrong. Thanks for giving me a heart. Thanks for being you.
Rohit, between our shared love for old Kanye and puns, we became partneribarelyknowhers in crime. Thanks for your generosity and your courage.
Pipe Dream, thanks for your corners. Thanks for your quiet assistants, your loud editors, your timid contributors afraid to talk at press conferences and your unrefined spirit. Thanks for the fun page editor who remembered my name, the release editor who asked what I wanted out of life and the editor-in-chief who told me that I belonged here.
Thanks for your embrace. Thanks for your forgiveness. Never lose any of it. You all do a lot more than make a newspaper. You all made me into who I wanted to be, and I got to be Jeff the whole time.
Mom, thank you for your fight, your strength, your sacrifice and your love. You’re my soul. Dad, thank you for your understanding, your calm, your insight and your love. In case you couldn’t tell from the beginning — you’re my hero.
Let’s figure out a day to hit the driving range.
Jeffrey Twitty is a senior double-majoring in geography and English.