I kept the backpack.
I’m sorry. The night receptionist suggested I hold onto it, and it became our little conspiracy. I hope this doesn’t burn any bridges, and don’t think this means I didn’t enjoy our six months together. I know sort of lucked into it, that by the time you gave the editors approval for a paid intern most of the j-school hotshots had already committed to the bottoms of other ladders. All this is to say that for a philosophy major with barely a year at the student paper, it was a totally sick gig.
I had actually worked in the News building once before, as an intern for Birmingham magazine, but you don’t remember that because it was before AL.com merged with The Birmingham News and several other papers to for you, Alabama Media Group. Some things hadn’t changed (like my first day at the magazine, I had forgotten to wear a belt), but this time around the IT people gave me a backpack and a computer. Interns weren’t supplied company phones, but I didn’t care because for the first time I was in a real newsroom getting real money write and I would have spent the summer covering roadkill, for that feeling.
But instead I became something like the newsroom’s army knife: a handy little tool that could cover a shooting, a BBQ restaurant and a local country singer in the same afternoon. There was that time the content team stayed up on election night eating pizza, and that time when you sent me 30 miles to Woodstock looking for meteor that had burned up on entry. I learned some of those things journalism students know, like to not implicate the suspect in a story and how to cover a town hall meeting. And since I wasn’t headed back to school you decided to extend the internship until a real job opened up.
Please don’t take my resignation personally. Maybe a space would have opened, maybe not, but I know how hard it is to get your foot in that door, and for a philosophy major to blow off that chance may have been the most deliberate act of career suicide of an Alabama writer. But I quit because I had finally saved up enough to travel for a while, and it has always been my dream to blast around the world and somehow fit writing into it. Maybe I can’t pull it off, but I need to try.
So I hope you don’t take the backpack thing personally. I’m flying to Mumbai this month so if you really want it back I can have my brother leave it on his front porch. In the meantime, you have my file and you know how to get ahold of me if…well, you know.