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In March, I was grieving. In September, I joined The Varsity’s masthead

Let’s talk about the difference that six months can make
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TROY LAWRENCE/THE VARSITY
TROY LAWRENCE/THE VARSITY

If you’re a frequent consumer of The Varsity’s ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ column, then you know it’s been six months since you’ve heard from me. However, in the event that you’re unfamiliar with me, below is the most intimate summary of a stranger that you’ll ever read.

My name is Alexa DiFrancesco. I’m the grieving journalist who, last March, penned an open letter to an ex-boyfriend following her father’s COVID-19 diagnosis. In those moments, I was anguished by both the actions of a boy and the effects of my father’s illness. Mercifully, my father’s health soon became better. Also mercifully, the contact I kept with that boy did not.

After reading my previous piece, you may have been cheering for the protagonist to have been offered a final rose once again in a picturesque Bachelor-style. We’ve just emerged from a locked-down, self-reflective summer; perhaps, the tradition of warm haze and reckless serotonin transforming to a rekindled love would continue.

I’d be lying if I claimed to have never fantasized the same.

The breakup I referred to had occurred on August 26, 2019. At that time, I had organized a ‘Cut-Off Day’ — a moment at which the allocated time for this boy to reach out would expire, and I would make every effort to permanently erase him from my memory. As I write this letter to you, the anniversary of this day has just passed. To celebrate my new vow, I curated a list of recent achievements — one which includes a new position as a journalist.

Let’s talk about self-esteem.

I’d first encountered The Varsity a week before my writing was published in it. My voice was hoarse. My nose was quivering. I was gasping through tears. I couldn’t form a coherent thought, so for the first moment of my life, I listened.

I read every article in the Arts & Culture section, awestruck by the words of its writers, each one wittier and more brutally honest than the next. The reflection, “Why my best friend from college and I are not even friends on Facebook anymore,” had impacted me to the degree of seriously considering journalism as a profession for the first time. Moreover, it birthed a desire to create a better environment than what I’d been given — a mantra I follow to this day.

Let’s talk about potential.

I was recently part of a telephone call for Margins Magazine, a UTSC publication for which I volunteer as an editor. My interviewee, an executive member of a campus organization, advised me to never again write when not compensated for my work. I’d assumed his comment was insincere flattery; three days later, he’d messaged me the job posting for the UTSC bureau chief position at The Varsity.

Let’s talk about belief in goodness.

I doubted I would be offered the position. Due to unprofessional household noises and shitty backyard wi-fi, I debated whether or not to attend the interview. I was certain there would be more qualified candidates than an arrogant 19-year-old with limited writing experience.

Let’s talk about new beginnings.

I haven’t been on a date since last year. I recently met someone at a physically-distanced party that my best friend’s cousin hosted. As soon as I saw him, I felt a burst of energy. After speaking with him, I learned that he’ll be transferring to UTSC for the 2020–2021 academic year. He asked me on a date; it was pleasing. I’m happy. I know that ‘happy’ isn’t synonymous with ‘permanent.’ I’ve made peace with that.

Let’s talk about evolution.

Similar to six months ago, I’m crafting a love letter for The Varsity. This time around, it’s for myself. I’m no longer grieving; instead, I’m embracing an anniversary and celebrating an earned position. One year ago, I vowed to heal through ‘Cut-Off Day’; as part of its commemoration, I am once again making a promise.

Via my new role, I vow to evoke the same sense of comfort in you, The Varsity’s reader, as was summoned in myself when discovering the writing in its pages for the first time. I vow to inform you of the entirety of facts with fairness and honesty and to comfort you in circumstances of uncertainty. I vow to propose new ideas, to provide you with a glimpse of the ‘better’ you fantasize of.

I vow to update my work when information I’ve shared is no longer accurate; for example, I’m no longer disheartened that my so-called ‘soulmate’ didn’t ask about my dying father as an act of courtesy — I’m now thankful for it.

I’m now 19, and I’ve become part of a masthead. I don’t write because a boy broke my heart. I don’t write out of grievance. I don’t write for revenge. I write as a reminder of a more substantial world.

Let’s talk about how my idea of ‘fate’ has evolved.