Sam Corey: What leaves remains
When I first got here, I wasn’t ready.
It wasn’t the towering pines and cedars, the lack of social connections and familial ties or the long stretches of Nevada County’s 974 square miles that shook me.
No, in the beginning, it was the work.
The daily grind of punching out two stories per day without any errors — no added or missed characters, no improper capitalizations, no misspelled names — it was onerous, something I wasn’t prepared for.
Early on, my editors kindly worked with me on my mistakes, and while they appeared to enjoy my writing, they likely couldn’t keep me on for too long before my problems overwhelmed my contributions to the paper. (This, I should say, is my speculation, not anything they explicitly said.)
But over time, with gracious patience and consistent, diligent editing — thank you, Ross Maak — I did improve, the job did get easier. With diligence and persistence, I soon began laying the tracks onto a railroad of relevant sourcing, informing research, scrupulous personal editing and succinct, comprehensive writing.
Though, eventually, one problem left open another. Six months in, I was more competent, and better able to do the job, but my social life was inept. At times I felt isolated, lonely, as though life offered little purpose. Fortunately, if there’s anything Nevada County offers, it’s a surplus of activity and civic engagement, with myriad nonprofits, local groups and socially and politically engaged citizens. I dove into the deep end.
Ultimate Frisbee, caring for caregivers, the local Chabad House, salsa dancing — this all gave way to enriching, deep relationships that later translated into a friend group comprising some of the closest people in my life; Jenna, Hollie, Joslyn, Jack, Caitlin, I love you dearly. And this doesn’t even include the newsroom, where conversations — long or truncated, elaborate and vexing and joyous — were wedged between hard deadlines and the never-ending search for perfected writing.
Enlightening and casual conversations with Scotty, Keith, Leslie, Bree, Chadwick, Valerie, Walter, Cory, Joslyn, David, Ross, Laci, Elias, John, Alan, Liz, Don, Brian and others highlighted the days that sometimes slogged and often flew. I never left the newsroom in my professional or personal life: my entire stay was spent shared under one of the roofs of its worker bees.
Notably, one of those included that of Brian Hamilton and his family. Possibly one of the most-liked people in Nevada County, I’ve yet to hear anyone say something negative of the man. Brian — who graciously and without hesitation, invited me into his home when I first arrived and where I stayed for a month before finding a place — is a good, studious editor. But, more to the point, he demonstrates better leadership, undergirded by an offering of friendship that patiently and respectfully opens the door for anyone willing to walk through it.
It’s with an odd amalgam of appreciation, sadness and joy that I soon depart from this town, with all its weird intricacies and various traditions. But it’s with a heavier heart and wetting eyes that I acknowledge a harsher truth: I can’t carry you all physically alongside me back to the Midwest. I won’t be able to participate in your rhythms and hymns that collectively constitute the many unique spaces around these semi-rural towns.
And yet, as any good death doula, like those of Nevada County, knows, one doesn’t “get over” people or “lose” them, as is often said. Rather, through physical departure, one accepts them, appreciates them as parts to their whole, moves through them, interweaving the two. Their words leave your mouth, their actions manifest in your movements, their laughs your exhales.
What’s left, that is, remains stitched into the tapestry of my memory and physiology forever. Our lives are intertwined, interconnected, and in some funny way that life tends to display, they never leave.
In case you’d like to hang out or chat before I move eastward, my plan is to leave around late July, early August. Feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 248-508-7891.
Sam Corey is a staff writer for The Union. Contact him at email@example.com or 530-477-4219.
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