Vaccine-weakened video editor rambles nonsensically about his basement family

Jackson Barton

My left arm hurts. Miguel, a nurse at vaccine station #27 in Gregory Gym, gave me my second COVID-19 vaccine shot a couple of days ago. The soreness I’m feeling is a constant reminder that this awful, lonesome life I’ve been living for the past year is almost over.

Unfortunately, my time with the Texan is also over. It’s not the note I, or anyone else, wanted to end on, but time moves on.

It’s hard to say goodbye to the place that raised you, even when you know it’s time. Moving the 700-mile stretch down I-35 from Lawrence, Kansas to Austin, Texas to attend UT was, until then, the hardest transition of my life. The Daily Texan — more specifically, the people who worked there — gave that lonely freshmen a new family of friends and mentors I can still count on today. I won’t name drop because I’m limited to 490 words and they would take up most of that, but I will say that one of them, that funny guy next to me in the picture, made the mistake of becoming my roommate after our freshmen year.

The unbelievably talented video editors that came before me, Sarah, Peyton and Faith, showed me just how much making everyone feel welcome and acknowledged matters. I learned that when everyone is comfortable sharing their own ideas, visions and dream projects, we could create some of the most impactful, fun and memorable videos together. I hope I was able to preserve just a little bit of that belonging for everyone who’s been in the video department for these last two semesters.

A nightmare-turns-reality situation: For my entire tenure as video editor, I never get to see all of my new friends gathered around the basement Ping-Pong table for highs and lows. We never escape to El Taquito on a Thursday night when we should’ve been studying, or march together to Pizza Press after orientation, racing copy staffers to get in line. Without all those special traditions and in-person experiences, I was worried the entire department, my family at UT, would fragment and drift apart.

That last part didn’t happen, thank goodness. We thrived as best we could through our grainy webcams and occasionally in my muddy West Campus yard, and it was great. I’m so thankful I stuck with the Texan through these difficult months, and while they weren’t the months we wished for, I’d never trade them for the new friends I made along the way.

I was going to write about how I hope to pass down all of the same silly video department traditions Brendan and I have known since we joined in fall 2018, but that’s dumb. Traditions aren’t meant to last forever, and they should be forced to fit the people who practice them in the present just to satisfy those who came before them.

Anyway, this fall, the video department will be brand new. Most, if not all, of the staff will have never been to the basement before. They’ll make their own fantastic traditions and bonds, which will certainly be tested when Premiere on the basement iMac crashes at 1:00 a.m. I’m so excited for them!

Reporting for the Texan gave me the experience I needed to get my journalism career started, but the friends I made along the way I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

My arm is feeling better now. Thanks Miguel.