Virtual Voices
Chelsea Kolz and her purchase.
Photo courtesy of Chelsea Kolz
Chelsea Kolz and her purchase.

My love affair with the Old Gray Lady

Essay

College taught me to lust after newspapers.

At college I live inside four brick walls with many books. Newspapers come, very notably, from outside.

The other night I didn’t want to learn anything. I bear no moral or theological banners. This almost-college-graduate has had it up to her neck in lessons and feels ready to be put out to pasture. I’ll don the flat hat and walk the graduation stage 40 days and 40 nights from now. And if Noah could last that long—so can I. Right?

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The yellow bruise on the inside of my elbow resides after last week’s blood work. I await the doctor’s phone call that might pronounce the m-word: mono. A diagnosis, a plausible explanation for my constant fatigue, would relieve me. And give me someone to blame. Q.E.D.: College has been beating me up.

But today I pause from shaking my fist at college to remember, and to tell you, that college taught me to love newspapers. I offer this as a kiss of kindness (not a real one with mono in it—you know what that would do) and a kind of self-therapy—which is precisely what buying newspapers has become for me.

The steep $2.50 expenditure for The New York Times, $8 on Sundays, slips from my fingertips only at periods of desperate self-kindness. Maybe a couple of times a year. A better boost than a bubble bath. In finally purchasing newspapers I succumb to the sophisticated feel of their pages and the wit of their insides. I read them better than books. I notate in their margins, and hoard them in drawers until they tatter so much I have to chuck them. They make me heady with independence. They turn on lights in my brain where I didn’t know I had switches. They enable me to parachute into new conversations. But mostly I just like the way they look and feel.

Night before last I was at the Harris Teeter Starbucks across the street from campus. I had already walked by the newspaper stand and ran my fingers through The New York Times and flirted with the idea of going back and buying. Only $2.50. Mental math: Must buy graduation dress, printer ink. Must pay taxes. Maybe when I graduate someone will buy me a subscription.

But then I gave in to my desires and bought one. $2.63 with tax. I took it back to my dorm, spread it out on the landing of the stairs, and read. Reading it was like breathing outside air. So much lighter and cleverer and leaner than a textbook. Some headlines:

  • "For Yanks, a Chill in the Air and in the Stands"
  • "Sodium, Hiding in Plain Sight"
  • "On the Montana Range, Efforts to Restore Bison Meet Resistance"
  • "Japanese Diary Washes Ashore, Its Mysteries a Gift"

Here’s to the next season and its fresh lessons of a new sort. Maybe, when I get off this mononuclear educational arc I’ll land on a mountaintop as routine as breakfast cereal. With a newspaper.

Chelsea Kolz Boes
Chelsea Kolz Boes

Chelsea is an editorial assistant for God’s World News. She graduated from Patrick Henry College with a degree in literature. Follow Chelsea on Twitter @chelseakboes.

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