When I was pulling out of the parking lot at the Orange County Register’s North Grand Avenue office tonight, Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” came on the radio.
And, tearing up, I thought, How appropriate.
No, today wasn’t my last day — that’s Friday. But today, I walked in and was surprised to find my spot, formerly known as the cake table (the Register’s hiring more people than there are desks), had reclaimed its nickname once again. This time, the cake was for me. (And Starbucks coffee, because I’m a caffeine addict, and fruit, because I’m vegetarian. My “mentor” this summer, Gerard, is a sweetheart who remembered all of that and put this together.)
That’s when it hit me, and that’s when I became really sad.
I often have trouble putting strong emotions into words (how ironic, I know), so I hope you’ll settle for this: I really, really don’t think there’s a better place I could’ve spent my summer.
I didn’t know what to expect from this internship, or an internship in general, really. I didn’t know what to expect from the Orange County Register. I didn’t know what to expect from Southern California — my impression was a tour I took of USC three years ago and the opening chords of that Phantom Planet song, plus what I’d seen on “The O.C.” (Yes, I did start watching it after I found out I’d be here.)
I’ve learned a lot in these past 10 weeks. Of course, I learned a lot about Orange County and California. I feel more informed about U.S. and current events than I ever have. I sharpened my Associated Press style skills and became better at reading for factual errors. I got experience looking at language and seeing what flowed well and was easy to understand. And I’ve definitely improved my headline- and deck-writing skills. (… But really.)
Work — like journalism and, well, life — is nothing without people, however, and I got to work with a lot of great ones at the Register. I’m so fortunate to have gotten to work with some truly excellent copy editors who made me strive to always do better, and I’m so thankful they made this 19-year-old (well, now 20-year-old) feel welcome from the start. I’m glad to report the Mizzou Mafia is alive and very well (and is no longer this ambiguous PR-ish term I use when giving prospective students tours) — comparing Broadway Diner, St. Louis and Maneater experiences with people who were there before me always brought a smile to my face, no matter what kind of world tragedy I was reading about. And I’m so lucky that the Register loves hiring young people, because I got to befriend some great ones who also happen to be stellar at what they do.
And — if you’ve even glanced at my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts this summer — you know I’ve fallen in love with Southern California.
So, thus ends the shortest 10 weeks ever. I’ll cruise down the coast (aka the PCH) with windows down and music blaring one last time and spend some quality time soaking up the sun on Saturday before I leave for Atlanta, and then for Mizzou for another semester.
But it’s OK, because I don’t think this is a permanent goodbye.
I’m considering it a “see you later.”