When news broke the Village Voice would cease its print publication New Yorkers went into mourning. The alt-weekly had become a part of so many’s New York identities, including Sally Hedberg who put pen to paper for old times sake.
I daydreamed about moving to New York City and writing for Village Voice throughout high school, soul-saving daydreams for a teenage girl navigating those years.
I can’t remember where the fervent passion came from or how I became fixated on an alt-weekly across the country (I had only visited the city once after all). But I do know why. To me – a girl in the suburbs of the Twin Cities – it was an iconic title, a tangible presence, and an editorial voice that were indicative of the NYC I wanted so badly to be a part of.
It was motivating, it was an escape, it was simple; all this bs will be worth it when you’re in living in New York holding a copy of the Voice with your name in it, that’s where you’re supposed to be.
I never got to see my name in the Village Voice, but I did eventually see my byline staring back at me from the pages of its Minneapolis based affiliate. I also ended up in NYC living a version of my earnest youthful fantasy that was, for the most part, everything I had hoped for – maybe save for the whole Loft in SoHo part (bless my sweet, foolish soul).
A few weeks into what was a blind move to the big city, one that probably gave my parents heart palpitations for the first six months, I was walking down 8th avenue. Bubbling with nerves and excitement amidst the first week of my new job, a vision of my erstwhile ambition pulled my gaze from across the street; a clumsy burst of sticker-littered red plastic that housed nothing other than THE Village Voice.
Driven by instinct, I drifted towards it only to find it empty (a near omnipresent occurrence in Manhattan and a testament to how its physical presence is so beloved). Crestfallen, I turned to leave when I saw a bundle of papers fluttering on the ground near the stand’s base: the last Village Voice. I flipped through absentmindedly, revelling in the perfect, grainy papery-ness between my fingers.
For the first time since moving I internalized where I was and was overcome with an overwhelming sense of relief; there, grasping a dirt-stained copy of the Village Voice on a busy corner in Manhattan, I was finally exactly where I wanted to be.
Almost immediately my reality came back full circle and I felt a pang of doubt and sadness; my career was taking a 180-degree turn from the world of journalism. The very dream of the byline that fuelled me getting to where I was quite literally standing wasn’t going to be a feasible reality anymore.
But, somehow, that paper in my hands was reassurance; that I was still me, that I was absolved for leaving journalism to pursue a different realm of work, and, most importantly, that no matter how much I changed, the New York that was so magically inspiring to me would still be there in some form, a constant reminder waiting for me every Wednesday as long as I was quick enough to grab it.