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A not-so Irish Goodbye

| Friday, May 21, 2021

I like to think, like Sam Smith, I’m pretty good at goodbyes. Let me clarify — I’m good because I can maneuver out of them easily, and I don’t feel bad about it. You can count on me to disappear before I get cornered into an emotional goodbye. Jim from “The Office” did it best — pop in, make a memorable joke and force yourself into a photo before slipping out the door, never to be heard from again.

It’s very tempting for me to Irish goodbye the rest of this year, and to Irish goodbye The Observer. I won’t lie and say I’ve changed, because I’m certainly going to Irish goodbye some aspects of college. But I do think I have to say a real goodbye to The Observer, and where better to do it than in Her own pages?

The truth is, I’m notoriously a hothead and passionate to a fault. I sometimes do not give the benefit of the doubt, and I am often too direct. You can only imagine how difficult it must be to work with me.

But somehow, by some miracle, I found the four women at The Observer who never asked me to change. I found the people who embraced me and everything I thought were my faults, and helped me see some of them as strengths. In the month or so since we have stepped down from Top Five, I’ve discovered that the relationship we share is not a normal one — others would not enjoy my openness, criticize where I find my love and happiness and not respect my opinions.

The love I found in The Observer this year is one that is so intrinsically simple. The kind of love forged in the most anxiety-inducing years, the kind of love where you see each other at your worst and still choose to love in spite of the chaos.

My forever Editor-in-Chief, Maria Leontaras, once said, “Pictures will last longer than me.” She is actually saying this right now, as I type this, as a justification for writing captions on the back of the disposable camera photos we recently got printed. When I questioned why she needed to write the names of people like myself, along with captions — “Won’t you remember me forever?” — she said something along these lines: “I may not remember all of this forever, but these captions will tell the stories.”

I’m starting to think she’s right. Those captions on those photos, some of which she gave to me — “2/3 of throuple,” “luvrs with drunk [redacted]” — will tell the story of why we were at Corby’s Irish Pub on April 21, and will hopefully explain why I have a hot pink BIC lighter with the words “Amy March” and “The smallest feet in the family” scrawled on it in faded silver marker. I am a writer, after all. I want to remember exactly what this felt like when my memory fails.

Courtesy of Mariah Rush
Little Women. From left: Maeve Filbin, Maria Leontaras, Mariah Rush, Claire Rafford and Sara Schlecht.

I want to remember what it felt like to finally find my place at The Observer — to enjoy Sunday news meetings, and to look forward to those late production nights when I could be out on the town with friends.

I want to remember the uncertainty of deciding what my next step should be at the paper, and how I made my decision on applying for Managing Editor at the encouragement of friends.

I want to remember finding our way through editorial board meetings on Zoom. I even want to remember the first time I realized that I was going to be bonded in trauma with this editorial board for the rest of my life.

I want to remember shopping for a 19th-century getup to LARP with my Little Women. For some reason I also want to remember frantically searching endless stacks of clothes at Goodwill for a certain Meg’s purse.

I want to remember the joy of going into South Dining Hall every Sunday night and the relationships I built with every single unsuspecting person forced under my regime. I’ll carry our laughs and the borderline harassment I inflicted on you all forever.

I will remember our themed Little Women gatherings in my apartment, filled with wine, cheese and light. I will remember the way I never had a sister before, and now I have four.

I fall in and out of love with journalism. Sometimes I don’t know how long journalism and I will last — I might say goodbye to it one day. The Observer isn’t journalism for me anymore. Uncover the truth and report it accurately, sure. But really, The Observer is Claire’s peace signs, Maria’s Marmee-esque involvement in her friend’s lives, Maeve’s love of a good costume, Sara’s evasive answers to prying questions and my unhinged attempts to be a private investigator. The Observer is all of us, and I want to remember Her forever.

So these are some of my captions. It won’t completely fill in the blanks in 20 years, but it’s a start.

Mariah Rush is graduating with a degree in American studies and a minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. After graduation she will be working at the Chicago Tribune doing a reporting fellowship. She can be contacted at [email protected] 

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Mariah Rush

Mariah is a senior majoring in American Studies and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She is from the great city of South Bend, and was the Managing Editor of The Observer for the 2020-2021 school year. You can find her always on Twitter at @mariahfrush.

Contact Mariah