Exactly five years ago yesterday, Katy interviewed with Jonathan and me in Hopewell.
Before the interview, Jonathan and I were arguing about something I no longer remember. Probably about how horrible his sports pages looked. He was king of the shaded boxes.
We argued during her interview.
“Well, we screwed that one up,” I said to Jonathan after she left.
She pointed out the flaws in our paper and on our website in her follow-up email.
“I like this one more now,” I said in an email to our publisher, Jim, when I forwarded her email to him.
I offered her the job, and for reasons that would inspire Doctor Manhattan to return from Mars in an attempt to save the world, she accepted.
On Katy’s first day, she freaked out a little. My response was to yell, “STOP FREAKING OUT” at her.
Obviously, it made matters worse.
We smashed a desk with a claw hammer.
We set things on fire.
We painted the newsroom orange and Carolina blue.
We won awards.
We followed Hopewell City Council candidates at 2 a.m.
We asked hard questions.
We didn’t back down.
We found out our ancestors were neighbors.
We led the charge on breaking news in instances when we shouldn’t have and dominated in the times that we should have.
I officiated her wedding.
She was a bridesmaid in mine.
We worked together at two different newspapers.
Since Feb. 26, 2010, the longest time we weren’t in the same newsroom was a roughly nine-month span between December 2011 and September 2012.
Other than family and some of my fraternity brothers, there’s no one else with whom I’ve spent so much continuous time with.
In that time, we did some damn good journalism, even in the time when we didn’t know what in the hell we were doing.
And now she’s leaving.
At least, this time, we’re parting the proper way.
I edited what’s perhaps my last Katy story a few hours ago. Today’s her last day. I have to come to interrogate another potential managing editor, but Thursday was our last official day together. Exactly.
I doesn’t seem like it’s only been five years. I guess that’s what happens when you’re raised by people who have roots in the Churchland area of the former Norfolk County, Virginia.
I sometimes felt like we were Woodward and Bernstein writ small. Really small.
The number of people I encountered for a second time in this Charlottesville newsroom is astronomical. If Alison took the copy editor position, there would have been at least one person from every newspaper in which I’ve ever worked in that building at one time. At least I can say someone I’ve met at every newspaper I’ve worked has set foot into that building. There’s no way it’s going to happen again.
Given the number of people in this world, it never should have happened. But I have described my life as a bad Dickens novel or a sitcom with a limited budget for casting.
But I digress.
Katy’s good. Really good. She’s better than I was at that point in my life, and I’m proud that she is. Her victories feel like my victories because I remember when we performed miracles in a newsroom that was once the service department of a car dealership. We did it through grit and perseverance. She’s a reminder that this is a calling, not a career.
Go forth and continue to do good work. Continue making me proud. I’m looking forward to relishing your success.
If fate should bring us to the same newsroom again, we shall find our Watergate.
Burn them with the inescapable light of the truth.