It’s weird to think about how much of my life changed thanks to three flights of stairs.

It was a snowy, blustery day in my freshman year when I climbed up those stairs on an absolute whim. I had seen an ad for a new writers’ meeting at the Herald office, and after some ambivalence (after all, I didn’t know really if I was interested in journalism), I took a chance and went. And now, five semesters later, I’m sitting in this chair at the Herald office at a loss for words. As I hit the finish line of my career at the Herald, I’m realizing just how hard it can be to figure out how best to put emotion into words.

I wish I could say I have a big, overarching metaphor that rings true to my time here, but I don’t. There just isn’t anything that really compares to what it’s like in the champagne-stained walls of the Herald office, and that’s the reason why I love the Herald so much — there really is nothing like this.

Instead, all I can think about is how I almost didn’t take that chance at all, and how I could have so easily missed out on all of this — all I can think about is just how much the Herald means to me.

I know it’s clich?, I know I sound like I have Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” stuck in a perpetual loop in my head (but really, how can you say goodbye without that song?), but the Herald really does change you.

Firstly, it made me a hell of a lot more cynical, it taught me to swear so much I nearly make my mother cry and it gave me the chance to write about whatever the hell I wanted.

Secondly, it made me more confident than I ever have been. Each day in the office is truly miraculous; it is a test of your abilities and just how much you can juggle in life. It tries your temper, forces you to push harder for anything you’ve ever done and, every once in a while, reminds you why everything is worthwhile. Although each day means putting your blood, sweat and tears into your job, you do so alongside some of the best people you could ever hope to meet.

Which is why thirdly, working at The Badger Herald gave me the chance to meet people who are the exactly like me. So much so that we really are a family, albeit one majorly dysfunctional family worthy of airtime on “Maury,” but we are a family, nevertheless. We are the reason why the Herald isn’t just a newspaper, but it’s a living, breathing thing. It succeeds, it stumbles on occasion and it always tries to be the best it can be.

Although it’s all of the work-related experiences that’ll surely help me as time passes, it’s the “everything else” about this job that I’ll remember more.

Things like climbing to the roof of the Herald office on the eve of our snow day to tackle one another (that sounds incredibly dangerous in retrospect), followed by a good amount of snowball throwing — yes, if you were hit by snowballs on the corner of Gorham and Broom that night, well, we were your assailants.

Or the game we lovingly invented, Bozo Buckets, which we play each and every Thursday night, complete with a trip to Taco Heaven. (If you want to learn what Bozo Buckets is, be sure to pick up Thursday’s paper.)

And there are a few other things I’ll never forget, but for the sake of legality, we’ll just not mention them here.

When it comes down to it, none of these things would have happened if it weren’t for the amazing people I’ve come to know. In particular, I have to recognize Arts Content Editor Tony Lewis not only because he deserves it, but also because he wanted this column to make him cry. I’m not sure it will (rather, if it does, he’s more sensitive than I ever gave him credit for), but it needs to be said that everything that’s been accomplished on this page has been accomplished together. In the family that is the Herald, he’s pretty much the big brother I wish I had — even if he does like country and wears cowboy boots on occasion.

This certainly is a bittersweet moment. The arts corner of the office (yes, there’s an actual reason why this column is called the “Arts Corner”) has been my second home for more than two years, and now it’s time to move on. However, I know you, as readers, will be in good hands with Ann Rivall and Sarah Witman as the incoming ArtsEtc. editor and content editor, respectively.

It’s so strange to think how I would never have met these amazing people if I chose to stay home on that gusty, cold day. If I didn’t just act spontaneously and go climb up those three flights of stairs, I’d be somewhere else and an entirely different person.

Thank you for reading the Arts page and the Herald overall. I’m excited to see where this paper goes in the future, and I’ll always remember everything it’s done for me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go listen to some Green Day.

Cailley Hammel is a junior majoring in journalism and communication arts. She sincerely hopes she made Tony Lewis cry. If you’d like to say farewell, e-mail her at [email protected]