Photo associate editor develops friendships, memories at Texan

Sam Ortega

Editor’s note: A 30 column is a chance for departing permanent staff to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in The Daily Texan’s basement office. The term comes from the old typesetting mark (-30-) to denote the end of a line.

A wise man recently said to me, “If you try enough doors, one will open.” The basement was that door for me and for three long semesters, it remained open, allowing me, to come and go as I pleased, but always reminding me that I did in fact have to come back. 

I’m in a relationship with the Texan and like with most relationships, there was an initial spark. “If you join the Texan, you’ll probably be staying there until 3 a.m. routinely and you will definitely sleep in the office at least once.” Excellent. That was all I needed. For months, I knew of nothing more than my apparent obsession with my job and the less obvious fact that, despite things falling apart all around me, I would always have this place.

The basement drew me in; I admired the dedication. For years, I’d slowly become nothing short of an apathetic fool. I walked into the Texan, and, for the first time in my life, I was surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals who day in and day out returned to this dungeon of creativity, giving their blood, toil, tears and sweat to this publication. People actually cared — they did. Despite what our readership was or how physically drained we were, we returned every day and against all odds, we kept going. Why? Because that’s what we do. We were digging for stories, finding a voice, persevering because we genuinely cared about the society around us. There was good out there, and this team of absolutely crazy misfits showed me a home — a niche where I would do most of my growing through these strange years. 

This goes out to Charlie, the photo dad and my rock throughout this whole semester. For all those times we told ourselves “no photos today,” while both knowing we cared about this publication too much to throw it under the bus like that. 

To Pu, oh, my Pu “puma” Huang. Those days when life refused to stop throwing obstacles our way — the “pod” was a vessel for our escape and for those perfect moments when the light strikes just right, and conversation is more than just a casual encounter between two friends. 

And of course, to my seniors, you warriors. Shelby, Shweta, Jon and Lauren, I have seen each one of you grow in your own quirky little ways, and I couldn’t be prouder. For as little as I felt I’ve taught you all, you gave back to me more than you’ll ever know, and my heart is overflowing with love for each one of you wickedly talented kids. 

Relationships can take one of two courses: They either work, or they don’t. For all the time I’ve gladly devoted to the Texan, I had to know when to walk away. I leave here physically exhausted and visibly sick from the stress and work this relationship brought with it. But ask me if I would do it again, and, with no hesitation I will say: in a heartbeat.