This week's feature struck quite the chord in me. As Teri Crawford Brown and I discussed Blackberry Winter and all the help they give those who have no one else, no family to help, I was left overwhelmingly grateful for all the assistance, support, and love my parents and family give me.
With this thought in mind, I have bittersweet news my dear readers: this is my last column as The Bluefield Daily Telegraph's Features Editor and Associate Editor of Prerogative Magazine.
I have struggled with what to write to you, and Bluefield, as a whole. The cities, counties and people of Four Seasons Country have given me so much support in unprecedented times and I will forever be grateful for that. I am also endlessly thankful to The Bluefield Daily Telegraph for the past three years of opportunity, adventure and creative endeavors. As you may know, I started here as a Reporter in the summer of 2018. Within a month, my predecessor, Whitney Browning had given her notice that she would be pursuing full-time missionary work. After gaining some courage, I asked Samantha Perry and Charles Owens if they might consider me for the position Whitney was leaving, Lifestyles Editor and Associate Editor of Prerogative Magazine. Though I'd only been working here for a month, they saw something in me and gave me the promotion I'd been looking for since I'd graduated college: feature writing.
I would not be the writer, editor, designer, or even the person I am today without the past three years I have lived and worked here. I would not be the journalist I am without the tutelage of Samantha Perry. With her assistance, and that of the rest of the newsroom, I was able to make magazines, sections and stories come to life in ways I'd only imagined. For that, and so much more I am so grateful to The Bluefield Daily Telegraph. But the time has come to go home.
I have a wonderful family waiting for me back in Charleston, W.Va. The importance of being close to family was brought to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic when I was separated by only a couple hundred miles that color-coded maps of county infection rates made an impossible distance. In isolation, I learned a lot about myself, some of which I have shared with you. One lesson I learned was the importance of priorities in life.
Just last week, I wrote about how the problems and stress of youth hold a nostalgia once you've experienced a bit more life. Now that I have experienced a global pandemic, my priorities are to spend as much time with my family as possible. I want to be there for them, physically, not digitally, as they have been there for me all of my life.
So, by the time you are reading this, I have accomplished everything that is worrying me at the moment. The Uhaul, boxes, packing tape and deposits will have been settled, and I will have learned more lessons about worry by then, I am sure. I write to you from my very last day here, boxes in the back of my car await the contents of this desk I've called a second home for three years. However, by the time you read this, I'll be settled in my new apartment, with my loyal companion of 13 years, my dog Zooey by my side. The day you read this will be the day before I start my new job.
That's the magic of publishing schedules, I suppose.
We have so enjoyed our time here, and sharing pieces of our life with you through this column. Zooey and I have been recognized by readers in public, and to them, I want to say thank you. Talking face to face with someone who genuinely enjoys what I write enough to approach me and my 85 pound dog, has been a humbling experience. The hours I've spent bent over a keyboard, staring at a blank screen contain so much more meaning with every interaction I've had with readers, whether that be through mail, in-person, or over the phone, thank you.
I'll be honest, this is a weird move for me. As long-time readers will know, I have moved a lot. However, this move is bittersweet. Of course, my initial move away from my family, to Colorado was the most difficult. But, I have been sharing the news with coworkers and friends with tears in my eyes over the past two weeks. There have never been tears when leaving all the places I've left. You are quite special, Bluefield.
The first to know were Bernice Allen and Michelle Gill, the queens of our Circulation Department and masters of difficult paper routes, but most importantly, my friends. After a few years of supportive "futon talks" in her office, with just a look Bernice knew the news I needed to tell her before she left for the day. Her first question, "How far?" I answered, "Back home, to Charleston." She responded, "As long as it's not across the country again."
We laughed, cried and hugged.
Bernice is right, I won't be too far away. Just back home, in the capital city, but I will miss pouring, perhaps too much, of my heart out on these newsprint pages once a week.
And now to you, my loyal readers. As a child, I dreamed of writing just those words, "my readers." I've wanted to write since I knew how to hold a pencil. I have had stories to tell, and the honor of helping tell others' stories as well. I want to thank everyone who has spent a few minutes or a few hours on an interview with me. Oftentimes, those heartfelt stories I get to write, come from someone trusting me enough to hold their trauma, their pain, and turn it into something beautiful. I will never forget that trust. I will also never forget seeing my byline the first, second, third, or 5,000th time. It is still special to me that people want to read what I write.
While I am leaving the newsroom, I am not leaving writing behind. I will continue to write, and hold the same reverie and gratitude for my byline on a page as I do now. Thank you, readers, thank you, coworkers, thank you, friends, and thank you, Bluefield.
Keep an eye out for my byline or my big brown dog, we will see you around.
— Contact Emily Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @BDTrice