COLUMBUS-- The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things.
Of shoes and ships, and ceiling wax: and I’m leaving Columbus next week.
I apologize for butchering that Lewis Carroll poem so, but it’s true. Platte County has served me well and I am likely to not forget it soon. But it’s time for me to see what those greener pastures are all about.
They say when you go to college, it prepares you for the real world more than high school will. I think that may be true. This is nothing against any of the amazing schools I have covered while in my short time here, mind you: I didn’t grow up here.
College taught me how to produce film, to manage a radio switchboard and to write newspaper articles so they make sense. I also learned the real world is unforgiving and to not make friends with your sources. I left the place with my degree in tow, expecting the worst.
As my previous columns have reflected, my experience here was a little unexpected. I was able to connect with a majority of the people here in the best way, and not once did I leave an event or homestead feeling unwelcome. Aside from the misadventures I documented on a weekly basis, of course.
In a weird way, I found a home in everyone I met.
Maybe you helped me tow my old Buick down to the mechanic’s shop, only asking for strawberries for payment. You may have found me at the store in the middle of the night and asked how my day was going, even if you only knew me from the Telegram. Or maybe I went to your home to talk about your grandfather while we sipped peach tea from mason jars.
Walking to the library was always nice, too, for me. I would have my regular business owners I’d wave to as I’d pass them by. I kind of felt like Belle from "Beauty in the Beast" in that regard.
I’ve written my gratitude to you all about the pleasantries you’ve given me: the books, candy, coffee and even the crucifix fish. I still show the bones of that tropical catfish to my most squeamish of house guests. I’m not a very nice friend.
I think the best thing about writing for you all was the weekly reception I would get from people I didn’t know.
“Are you Liz? I love your articles. You give a different perception of Columbus, and it’s so fresh,” a few strangers would say to me. The comments I’d get about my comedic flair in those columns also made me feel better.
I felt like a celebrity at times. I quickly learned I could never get used to that if my small-town fame grew, as I’m a bit of an ambivert.
Another common phrase I would hear along the way was how important community is to everyone here. I always thought that was a fuzzy way to think, but I’ve come to find that community can mean different things to different people.
Sometimes it’s the backbone of what makes a town tick. Or it could even be just a lot of people working together to make it all better for the common good.
Oddly enough, I got to see firsthand what it really means, to me that is. Community isn’t just the people. It’s what the people do, what they build and what they want to plan for. Their vision for the future and what it can do for everyone within the confines of the city limits and beyond is also insightful. To me, community is that chain of people working together to do all of those things.
Again, as I’ve mentioned before in a column from a few months ago, I’ve never seen it all come together quite like this. Sure, there are some steps that have been missed; people that have been behind in some way. But we’re all doing the best we can. That’s what I’ve seen in Columbus, and I appreciated that.
As for why I’m leaving, that’s a personal matter. Maybe I thought covering the circus was so much fun, I decided to take up lion taming and run off to pursue that hunch. Or mayhaps I’m going to recreate Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ without the chemical intake. I could even be getting married off to someone soon, and decided now was the time to take it easy for a little while.
The world may never know. I like it that way.
Stay lovely, Columbus. And I sincerely thank you all for welcoming me with the most open of arms.