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Years gone by

staff notes

A year ago, I wrote a staff note about how I felt a year of my life had gotten away during the height of the pandemic. I wished to be more like my “pre-pandemic self,” someone I described as “dedicated and reliable,” someone who would “never ever would have let 59 iMessages pile up in her inbox.” 

Knowing that I was about to take on the Recess editorship, the piece was me trying to set my intentions for the year ahead, as Recess was one of the areas of my life that felt markedly different pre- and post-March 2020. As a first-year staff writer, Recess was a home for me at Duke. Interviews and writing took up sacred, immovable spots in my Google Calendar. I picked up every print edition of The Chronicle and saved every Recess section. I could not wait to be an editor, to help shape this organization that meant so much to me. 

My sophomore self, though, felt defeated. As local arts editor, I made desperate attempts to get people to interview local artists and check out the virtual efforts of Durham’s arts institutions. In my heart, though, I knew that even if people tried picking up those stories, they would not be able develop the reverence or love for Durham’s art scene from livestreams that I did by getting to experience spaces like Oddville and The Mothership in-person.

When, last spring, I was given the role of Recess editor, something my freshman self fantasized about, it felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Frankly, I was in such a slump that I told myself I was going to wait until senior year, an idealized time where the worst of the pandemic would have subsided and I would feel more like “myself” again, to apply for the job. But the only person who intended to apply for editorship this year was studying away in the fall, and someone had to do it in the interim. I submitted my application half-heartedly. I interviewed for the position from my austere COVID isolation room in West House, fighting to stave off illness-induced fatigue. When I got it, I tried really hard to be excited. 

I want to make something clear right now: being Recess editor has been a privilege, but not because of my position. “Leading” Recess was a privilege simply because being a part of it is a privilege. I love covering arts and culture. I love our staff. I loved going to meetings and spending most of our time talking about our niche interests rather than pitching. I love that I read every single story we put out this year. I especially loved seeing other people’s love for Recess grow, the passion our staff writers put into perfecting their stories, the dedication with which our editors meticulously nixed every Oxford comma. I am, above all else, grateful for the fact that I spent an hour every Thursday evening this year among wonderful people. That was a privilege. If I did not have to lead those meetings, to publish all of those articles, it is quite possible — likely, even — that I would have slipped away from Recess altogether this year. Of all the regrets I may have about my editorship, none are worse than that would have been. 

The truth is, I am no closer to my “pre-pandemic self"  than I was a year ago. Perhaps I am further — currently, there are 164 unread iMessages in my inbox, and I actually just opened some because the initial number was even more obscene. But a lot of things are better than they were a year ago. The friends whose Zoom wedding I attended in 2020 are finally having a reception next week. I spent most of my time in class this year actually paying attention and learning rather than scrolling on social media. 

I had a lot of visions of grandeur about this year of Recess  — improvements I was going to make, projects I was going to start — that never came to fruition. At times, that made me feel like a failed editor, like another year was getting away from me, like Recess was deteriorating because of me. Even writing that now feels so silly and self-aggrandizing. Recess is so much more than its editor. The love that I developed for Recess under my first-year editor is not unlike what our new writers felt this year and what new writers will feel for (hopefully) years and years to come. 

I think I need to stop imagining that there was ever a version of me that did not make mistakes, that did not burn out, that answered all of her texts. All of the years of my life have been colored in part with regrets, with periods of inertia. Ultimately, this year did not "get away from me." I lived it, just imperfectly. Recess continued, just imperfectly. Admittedly, though, I am very grateful that this is only my farewell to my position, not to Recess itself. I have one more year here — I promise not to let it get away. 

Tessa Delgo is a Trinity junior and was Recess editor of The Chronicle’s 117th volume. 

She wants to express her deepest appreciation for the Vol. 117 Recess staff. She is grateful for Kerry, Devinne, Jonathan, Megan, Derek, Skyler and Ben (and occasionally Jack) for sticking around with her and for all of their wonderful work this year. She is elated that such talented writers and designers as Rhys, Anna, Sasha, Katherine, Jules, Brooks and May were willing to join her staff and that they are continuing on with Recess. May Jonathan reply to your emails much faster than she ever did. 

To Recess’ two graduating seniors, Kerry and Devinne, she wants to say that she is so excited to see what they do next and promises to attempt to keep the current group chat alive for them. 

She is grateful for her former Recess editors, Nina and Sarah, who taught her everything she knew about Recess and this role. She hopes she made them proud. 

Most of all, she would like to extend congratulations to her successor, Jonathan, whom she has admired and believed would be an amazing editor since she met him freshman year. She promises to be as diligent and passionate an editor for him as he was for her. 

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