I wish I had a good origin story to tell you. “Spine” is the kind of theme that deserves a good origin story. But today, I fail you, and I fail Stan Lee, because the only story I can tell you is the true kind. 

This theme didn’t fall into my head in a passionate, colourful flurry. No blue sky was parted by the heavenly golden rays of my epiphany. It was probably a Tuesday, or some other day as inordinately ordinary as that. I was about to hop into the shower, and I turned around and looked at my back in the mirror.

“Oh shit.”

And that was that.

I get confused looks sometimes when people hear the name of the magazine. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve come up with an elevator pitch, that I can perfectly recite in under 20 seconds. Let me demonstrate it for you.

“What does ‘spine’ mean?”

Well, thank you for asking. To me, ‘spine’ means anything that touches your nerves — anything that constitutes the core of being.

Then you say, “That was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.”

It usually goes something like that.

But in all seriousness, thank you. Julie and I mean this from the bottom of our hearts, or from the top — whichever works. Thank you for clicking onto this little digital magazine of ours, the very first one that The Varsity has ever published. Thank you for taking the time to peruse these words, sift through them in your mind, and let them settle there. Thank you for being readers, absorbers, listeners, watchers, friends. 

What’s that awful cliché I told myself I wouldn’t refer to in this letter? Right — it takes a village. Julie and I didn’t have a village to help us with this magazine. We had a well-oiled, exceptionally talented, wonderful unit straight out of Ocean’s Eleven. Dibs on George Clooney.

Before I leave you, let me tell you one more thing that is true. I have a journal that I call my Sunshine Journal. That is a grotesquely embarrassing thing to admit publicly, but it’s true. In it, I try to write at least one good thing that happens to me each day.

On February 14, I wrote: “This feeling, in my chest. The flighty, bursting kind while I’m listening to ‘August (Acoustic)’ by Flipturn while reading magazine pieces. That good one.”

I can still feel it now.

— Stephanie Bai, Magazine Editor, and Julie Shi, Creative Director