Victor Infante (ocvictor) wrote,
Victor Infante
ocvictor

Thoughts on Being Across the Street While My Colleagues are Covering President Obama

Hi. My name is Victor Infante, and I write stuff for a living. Sometimes poems, sometimes stories, sometimes reviews of rock and pop shows. You can read more about that on my newly revamped website. It's not a bad life, as it goes. It never seems to pay enough, and I always feel like I'm a little behind on everything. But it has its perks.

Sometimes, if you're very lucky, a life in writing means you get to see things that are truly amazing.

Today, a number of my colleagues covered President Barack Obama speaking at The Worcester Technical High School graduation, and I confess, part of me is a little jealous. Not because I harbor any burning desires to jump back into hard news, but because it was one of those moments where the stars aligned and, if you step back, you can see the thousand small threads that connect everything: Dozens of bright teenagers, facing the blank canvas of a future, and -- whether you care for him or not -- one of the most powerful people on the planet. And we look at the latter, and say he's the story, but that's not quite right. And we look at those dozens of teenagers, poised on the edge of metamorphosis, and say that's commonplace, when really it's remarkable.

Without those kids, the president being here would be just a travel itinerary. And certainly, his presence made us look at them, but the truth is each and every one of them -- the students and the president and the audience and the people reading the newspaper -- are stories in progress. They're love stories and tragedies, heroic epics and cautionary tales, Horatio Alger rags-to-riches stories and small, quiet firefly stories that burn briefly and bright.

Being able to tell those stories is a privilege, and if I'm completely honest, it's a privilege I never quite feel the people and companies who own newspapers ever seem to quite understand. How could they? Most of them come from some other world: From ad sales or venture capital or something sensible like that. There's always that small gap in understanding between what they see and what we do. It's the nature of the beast.

But once in a while, we get lucky. We get to stand at the axis where the meek and the powerful converge, and we have the privilege to report back what we find there. And maybe that changes the world a little. And maybe it doesn't. But either way, we get to point and say This. This matters. Pay attention.

And most people probably won't. There's also usually a gap there, too. But it doesn't matter. You still get to tell the story, and in that telling, you help make the world just a little more real. You hold up a sign that says that we were here, and this is who we were. And sometimes that's terrible. I made my way back to arts reporting because I wanted to look at the best in people for a while, wanted to watch people who create, and tell their stories. But as hard as it probably was, this one looked like a good day. I hope it was -- I left the office before the reporters came back. And as I said, I'm a little jealous. I always want to see things I'll probably never be able to see again. It's the best part of this job. Sometimes, it's what makes it all worthwhile.
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