Wax drips onto the green, checkered tablecloth. The light from the candles can’t compete with the overhead chandelier, but my father insists on having them nonetheless. I estimate that my family has burned through over 1,000 candles. Every time we gather around the dinner table, the candles are lit. While they may be seen as purely decorative, they have become a measure of time. I have likely spent hundreds of hours around this table. The dark oak has absorbed the echoes of numerous debates, celebrations and mundane recountings of our days. At this table, I have been given the freedom to express myself completely, engage in otherwise difficult conversations and test the limits of comedy. It has become my podium, stage and refuge.

When I transferred to Binghamton in the fall of 2022, I was worried that I would never find this sort of place — that it existed only within the confines of my home in Delmar. Pipe Dream, however, proved me wrong.

Unbeknownst to many, I was initially rejected from Pipe Dream. The copy desk was looking for underclassmen, and my status as a junior transfer didn’t fit the bill. I thought that was the beginning, and end, of my involvement in Pipe Dream. However, a week later, I was informed that a position opened up and it was mine if I wanted it. Clearly, I said yes. At the time, I was unaware that my involvement in this organization would become the most formative part of my time at Binghamton.

I will not bore you with a complete recounting of my first few months at Binghamton, but I will say that it was not easy. During this time, I grew incredibly familiar with the walls of my Hillside dorm room. It is here that I fell apart, and pieced myself together again. It was also during this time that I grew to appreciate my involvement in Pipe Dream.

While the Pipe Dream office is not adorned with candles, it has served the same purpose as the oak dining table 200 miles away. In this office, my perspectives have widened and my knowledge has grown. It is here that I have found a community. It is these people that fill the metaphorical hitchcock dining chairs, at my metaphorical oak table. These connections are what I am most proud of when I reflect on my time at Binghamton. The opportunity to connect with, and work with, everyone in this office has been the greatest blessing. It is safe to say that I no longer measure time by candles, I measure it by productions.

I am soon to return home, to the table that inspired this column, but I must first thank those that have filled my table here.

Lia, I owe my involvement in Pipe Dream to you. To see you lead, first as the head of copy and now as editor-in-chief has been inspiring. Your perseverance and grace are admirable. To think I have known you for seven years boggles my mind and I am utmost grateful that we have grown closer through this organization. I am confident that you will continue to succeed as managing editor next year. After all, you are an Emma girl.

Bella, I wish I had known you sooner. I am grateful for your leadership within the office, and friendship outside of it. You have embodied what it means to be a leader and a friend. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed, and this organization is better off for it.

To the copy desk, thank you for giving me a chance. This section was the true beginning of my involvement in Pipe Dream and I cannot imagine a better group of people to have worked with. Allison and Emma, I will miss you dearly but am certain of your success in your new positions.

Jill and incoming digital team, it has been a pleasure to work with you and build this section. Jill, I could not have asked for a better leader. I am confident in this team’s abilities and cannot wait to see how this section grows.

To the rest of my Pipe Dream pals, this experience would not be complete without you. I wish I had the word count to thank you individually, but alas, Sean has imposed a cruel 1000-word count on me. I looked forward to every Wednesday and Sunday, knowing that I would be walking into an office full of your faces. You have cultivated an accepting, inspiring, environment and you should all be proud of yourselves. Thank you for being a helping hand, a listening ear and accepting me as I am.

To my family, you are my lighthouse. In the roughest of times, I look to you for guidance. I cannot fully express my gratitude for your support, encouragement and empathy. You have shaped me into the person I am today. I owe everything to you.

And finally, to those of you who no longer sit at my table — thank you. I have learned that not everyone sticks around, and that is okay. To those of you that I have crossed paths with, who may no longer sit beside me, I am immensely grateful to you. You have profoundly impacted my life and you will always have a seat at my table.

Kate McDermott is a senior majoring in English and is Pipe Dream’s Assistant Digital Editor.

Views expressed in the opinions pages represent the opinions of the columnists. The only piece that represents the views of the Pipe Dream Editorial Board is the Staff Editorial.