To the little Southern town that welcomed me in

Let me start with a confession. When I first decided to take a leap of faith and move to a tiny town in the heart of the South, I wasn’t exactly planning on staying very long. I thought I would get a good start in my career, get a taste of working in higher education, and move on within a year or two.

But you had other things in mind. And four years later, here we are.

Thank you for giving me my first real, full-time, salaried-with-benefits job. For bringing me the opportunities that allowed me to challenge myself and grow into my career. To tackle projects that I never would have imagined I could manage just months before.

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Not a terribly ugly place to work, either.

The opportunites weren’t just from work, though. Through Hartsville Young ProfessionalsLeadership Hartsville, Main Street Hartsville and more—because of you, I’ve grown to understand that making a small town your home as a young adult is, in a lot of ways, like attending a small college. You get out of it what you put into it. The opportunities are all there, if you choose to see them.

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Hartsville, you will always be the place where Chris and I created our first home together. Where we celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, made a “broman” in our front yard during the Great Blizzard of 2014, and where we fell in love with and brought home our sweet Callie pup.

You’re also the place where I had the inspiring pleasure of watching a community come together to fight the tough problems: poverty, crimeeducation. Thank you for renewing my belief that there’s no limit to what a small group of dedicated, motivated people can accomplish. I won’t forget that lesson anytime soon.

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I’ll be honest, Hartsville. There are a few things that I won’t really miss about you. (Suffocating summer heat. Shopping for groceries at Bi-Lo. Lack of a Target.) But although I’ve only been gone for two weeks, there are so many things that I already miss:

  • Friday afternoon “traffic”
  • Long afternoon walks through the trails and boardwalks of Kalmia Gardens
  • The Wayfarer Cobb salad at the Midnight Rooster
  • A 7-minute drive to work
  • Laid-back fall nights with friends at the Downtown Block Party
  • Walking a block from work to pint night at Vintage, and being warmly greeted by a bartender who’s already pouring my beer—because he knows exactly which one I want from that day’s selection.

Mostly, of course, I will miss your people. You brought me coworkers (work family) and friendships that will be with me for life. Then there were the neighbors, the students, the community-builders, the smiling and waving strangers. These people—that’s what really made you feel like home.

Change can be hard. And while I’m excited about the new adventures ahead of me, I’m grateful for the chance to stop and give thanks for the one I’m leaving behind. In life, some changes happen so gradually, you barely even notice anything has changed at all— until one day, when you look up and realize that everything is different. But sometimes, you have the gift of knowing when an important chapter is closing.

Hartsville, my time with you is a bittersweet chapter to close. Thank you for welcoming me in with open arms and giving me the chance to call you home. I will always be grateful.

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