It’s taken me a while to get this column done, and, in this rare instance, it’s not because I procrastinated. I actually began writing this about three weeks ago, because I knew finding the right words would take me a while.
“Goodbye” is succinct and clearly signals my intentions, but does not convey the depth or breadth of emotions I’m feeling.
“Farewell” conveys my goodwill towards this community, which so generously welcomed me and invited me in, but again, it’s not sufficient for expressing all that I’m feeling as my last days in Cullman approach.
Clearly, a one-word approach won’t work. But I don’t know that there are enough words to say how much this community and people have come to mean to me in such a short time.
From the first day I arrived in Cullman, just over two years ago, everyone has been so kind. As someone who will have a conversation with anyone and everyone, I loved that so many people here were of similar mind. It has been fun to go into the grocery store and run into people I know; but even if I didn’t know anyone there, I always enjoyed the conversations struck with random strangers.
I moved here looking forward to all the things small towns have to offer: festivals and events, fundraisers . . . that sense of community you can’t get in a large city. Then the pandemic hit and many of those things were canceled. As I talked to my friends back in Atlanta, though, I felt fortunate to be in Cullman, where social distancing was easy - it was certainly no hardship to spend more time outdoors!
People also reached out to me to make sure I was doing okay, a kindness I will be forever grateful for. It’s not easy coming in to a community as a stranger - and then to have the events where you would normally get to meet people be canceled - but “kind” is probably the first adjective I’d use to describe Cullman and kindness was shown to me over and over again.
I have loved telling the stories of this community and its people. Thank you for trusting me with them. There is nothing I agonize over more than making sure I’m being fair and representing individuals accurately in print. It’s hard to do - people are shades of gray that don’t always translate well into black and white news print - but I did my best and appreciate the grace readers awarded me in doing so.
Finally, the team I work with here at The Times is the very best, and I’m grateful to them for everything they do to make this paper a product we’re all proud of. If there’s one frustration we all have is that we don’t have enough people or hours in the day to get to all the stories we’d like to; there are so many more stories to be told, but just not enough of us to tell them.
I am going to miss this community and the people of Cullman. I take with me, though, friendships and great memories. Thank you for both.