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Saturday, May 18, 2024

When you’ve kept a journal for 13 years, you rack up a lot of entries you don’t remember writing. 

Some are nicer to reread than others — a post-party haze of pure euphoria or blurry recollections of a dream you don’t want to forget. Others, less so — every year, in the hour before my birthday, I write desperately about not wanting to get older, and every year, I get older anyway. 

The point is: I enjoy looking back on emotions I don’t fully remember feeling, which is why I’ve obsessively documented them for so long. There’s something indescribable about a page of forgotten prose written in your own handwriting. 

But not all entries are like that. A few stick around in your memory for days, months, years after you write the last word — waiting patiently for an undetermined future moment where it will hit you like a semi-truck of unresolved nostalgia. 

On April 18, 2021, I walked into The Alligator office for my first last print night. The next morning, like clockwork, I rolled out of my dorm bed and wrote just over 35 lines about it in my decade-old, black-and-pink journal. 

At the end of my freshman Spring semester, I was already scared of saying goodbye. I imagined all the editors and reporters I had grown to revere tossing their caps into the air and leaving me behind. I thought about semesters fading away, ushering in a never-ending revolving door of new staffers over and over again until the room was filled with strangers. 

I pictured how I would feel walking out of the newsroom doors for the last time, and then I immortalized the scene in crisp blue ink. 

Well, here we are. 

I got a lot of things right in that initial journal entry: The Alligator did in fact become “something I have to say goodbye to,” and it is “astonishing, and terrifying, and exciting, and terrifying again” (I don’t think goodbye columns go through copy, but trust me that those are verbatim quotes). 

In other ways, though, I’ve also surprised myself. 

Two years ago, I thought I would stick with The Alligator right up until graduation, but sometimes finish lines come sooner than expected. I never wanted to be a name on the masthead, but sometimes cards just fall a certain way. 

To Alan and Aurora: If I was ever going to do it, I’m glad it was with you guys. I genuinely looked forward to pulling out of the Oxford Terrace garage with you both three times a week and driving to the office. Sunday mornings at the Bagel Bakery were unbeatable. 

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I’ve come a long way from the girl who was rejected from news positions twice before finally finding herself on the arts and culture desk, and I mean it sincerely when I say The Avenue is my favorite thing about this paper. The writing made me realize four years in Gainesville wasn’t a death sentence — and the people made me realize it might even be a miracle. 

To Kristine, Luigi and Anushka: I know we never spent a night in the newsroom together, but Ave Fall ‘21 continues to thrive. To Heather: Thanks for still hanging out with us even though we made that semester hell. Also just for being you. 

And to Averi and Lauren: Thank you both for spreading the “just a girl” agenda with me. I think that might be my most notable mark on this newsroom. 

The most honest thing I could tell you all is that I really, truly enjoyed print nights. All of it — the long hours, the spontaneous Wawa trips, the collective nervous breakdowns. Floating between the designated metro and uni rooms, I found myself forgetting the deadlines and instead getting lost in conversation (and online quizzes) (and occasional gossiping).

I don’t need to go on about how everyone at The Alligator is an amazing reporter who will one day do amazing things, but I do want to point out that they’re also wonderful people. 

I enjoyed spending the past 16 weeks — or, for some, two years — with you all. I hope you feel the same. 

Veronica Nocera was the Spring 2023 Engagement Managing Editor of The Independent Florida Alligator.

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Veronica Nocera

Veronica Nocera is a third-year journalism major, history minor and The Avenue editor. She spent two semesters reporting arts and culture for The Alligator and also writes for Rowdy Magazine. When she’s not writing, she’s probably reading, journaling or taping random pictures to her wall. Also, she’ll probably be wearing yellow. 

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