What shall I say, Portland? What shall I say?
I remember my first drive down here. The air disturbed by large trucks and the cornfields seemed to go for miles. The buildings in downtown remind of the 1950s, and I had the feeling most young people get on their way to live in the dorms.
To be honest, putting down these words isn't easy and it isn't hard. I suppose the difficulty comes down to saying it.
This will be my last column for The Commercial Review because I will no longer work for the paper.
There, it's out.
Soon I will be moving back to Michigan to take on another adventure where I will be closer to home and my church. But there have been some valuable lessons here in Portland that I will use in my new position:
•If a source says something, know whether it is true or not. Sometimes officials will give a number or make a statement that wasn't meant to be false but isn't true. Fact-checking is imperative even if it comes from the expert's mouth.
•Look at older stories to know what's going on. I had to do this a lot when I first started and I have to do it now.
•Critique is a part of the job. A lot of residents appreciated my work and I had some serious critiques, but they are supposed to be for the better, right? Some say “I like your perspective.” Others say, “I like your articles, even though I disagree with about 90 percent of what you say.”
•No matter what, there are crazies out there. Sometimes doing my work, I end up meeting some odd folks. Going to college for six years cannot prepare one to work with others and not everyone is able to communicate well.
And there have been some Portlanders that made living here difficult. But it's OK, because I learned it wasn't enough to put me down.
And to the ones who made Portland worth every moment to stay: Amy and Chet Franks for inviting me into their home for dinner and cookies, Cindy and Paul Weitzel for the awesome tours and conversation, David and Sue Wade, Ron and Sharese Willis and the Family Worship Center for welcoming me and being there when I wasn't too busy to go to church, Annie and Toby Swartzentruber and their family for taking me in and for the shared meals, conversations and friendship.
To Perry Hull, the great animator and my friend who was such a gentleman, Shaun and Kayla Brotherton for introducing me to chicken farming and delicious turkey eggs, Michelle from Vulture Culture who had some of the cutest, most interesting clothing and a vibrant personality and to store manager Jeremy from CVS and his employees who were great to speak with and always tried to convince me to buy a candy bar when I shouldn't.
To Kent and Anni McClung for their kind words and conversation, the Jay County Humane Society employees who let me walk, feed cashews to and fall in love with the dogs, to the countless residents who sent thank you cards in response to my columns and to all the great people at The Commercial Review.
I want to give special thanks to the firefighters at Portland Fire Department for allowing me to watch cable TV and speak with them and the officers at Portland Police Department for being there as a big family away from home.
If interested, I will write periodic columns on Blogger at https://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1. If it's hard to find me, just go to the website and type in my name.
I thought about a long, drawn out ending that could conclude this column.
Instead I will leave everyone with the words of Dr. Seuss:
“Don't cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”