I hate goodbyes. They’re probably one of my least favorite things in the world.
I dislike how final they seem, like a promise to stay away and never come back again.
And so Skagway, I won’t say goodbye to you. I won’t say goodbye to this wonderful town, which has captured my heart in almost exactly three months to the day.
Instead, I’d rather take the opportunity to reflect upon my time spent here this summer.
When I stepped off the plane on May 13, I had no idea what was in store for me this summer.
The plane that carried me from Juneau to Skagway was definitely the smallest plane that I’ve ever been on. No one back home could believe that I had to take an eight-person plane to get here.
I’d soon come to realize that I was lucky to have even flown into town at all and had not been forced to take a seven-hour ferry ride from Juneau during a rain storm with heavy fog.
I remember looking up at the mountains around me, amazed at their snow-covered peaks. As someone born and raised in Arizona, I’d never seen so much snow before in my life. Or, for that matter, a summer that hadn’t yet passed 70 degrees on the thermometer.
I quickly began to learn about what it was like to be a newspaper reporter on a staff of exactly one other person, who was thankfully the incredibly talented and helpful editor, Elise Giordano.
Over the course of these past three months, I’ve reported on things I never could have conjured up in my mind before this summer, and I feel privileged to have shared the unique stories of this community.
One of my favorite moments this summer was when Elise and I photographed and covered the longest-annual canoe and kayaking race in the world over the course of four days in the breathtakingly wild Yukon Territory. One of my favorite stories I wrote was about a local artist who preserved and carved fossilized mammoth ivory tusks.
I could go on about all of the valuable skills I’ve learned at the paper, such as how to lay out a newspaper, and that Heard on the Wind ALWAYS goes on page two, or how not to get ink on your white pants when folding 200 newspapers at the printers in Whitehorse, but those skills certainly aren’t the most important lesson I’ve gleaned this summer.
Writing the news is different when you see your readers everywhere you turn on the street – and that’s a gift this town gave me. I felt more accountable, more desirous to check that fact one more time, more determined to get things right and to write it well.
These are the things I hope to take back with me to my next internship awaiting me at the newspaper in Tucson, Arizona and into my career after graduation and beyond.
So I thank you Skagway, for making me humble about my work and teaching me that it doesn’t matter if its ten people or ten thousand people that read your copy. The news is the news, and that’s all that matters.
I’d like to thank the wonderful Elise for guiding me through small-town politics and relationships, teaching me about the inner-workings of a newspaper and for imparting upon me some of her tireless, diligent work ethic.
Another thank you goes to the newspaper’s equally wonderful business manager, Katie Kollasch, for her friendship and witty conversation in the newsroom.
Thank you to Jeff Brady for resurrecting the paper, re-establishing its legacy and for his never ending wealth of local knowledge and history that was readily available at a moment’s notice.
And lastly, I’d like to thank each and every one of the readers of this paper. Without you, without your concern for information about this community, my job would be meaningless.
As I leave Skagway this week, I feel that I still have yet to tell the most important story from this summer. I can’t wait to return to my hot, dusty hometown and tell the story of a beautiful town in Southeast Alaska that was filled with kind, loving people who cherished the value of community above all else.
I think everyone “down south” should all strive to be a bit more like a Skagwegian.
With that, my three months in Skagway have come to an end and it’s time for me to return home. It will be bittersweet as I step onto the ferry, with the sadness of leaving, but with a full heart from the all of the wonderful memories I made this summer.
Until we meet again, Skagway.
I hope it won’t be long until we see each other again.