Late on Thursday night, I returned to Grays Harbor after a much needed vacation. A friend of mine said I needed a “hard reset.” While it sounds like he had the party of the year while I was gone — a party I wish I could have attended — he understood why I wasn’t in attendance late last month. He knew I needed to get home and see my family in Northern Illinois.
It was a great trip, complete with plenty of family time and a flurry-filled Chicago Bears game. Thanks Pat.
But after 18 days, it was time to get back to Aberdeen. The good thing is I didn’t have to worry about driving back. Two of my colleagues drove me home, from Portland. Thank you to them for the ride, because parking at an airport or near one for 18 days is quite expensive.
Appreciation is the theme for this column
The next day, I learned my car battery was dead. I walked to a local business, where my friend Calvin offered to help me jumpstart my battery. For some reason, it hadn’t dawned on me until after he left that I should ask him for a ride back to my apartment so he could jump the battery. Another hour or so later, I still needed a jump and didn’t know if any of the shops would do it for free. So, my friend Bryce texted Calvin to see if he’d do it. Calvin came right back. After we talked for a little bit, Calvin and I went back to my apartment. He jumped the battery and then recommended I take a drive to make sure the battery was actually charged. Thank the car gods for Calvin.
I started driving around Aberdeen and Hoquiam. The drive extended toward Westport. I was going to go all the way to Westport, but figured it had been long enough. My windshield also had old wiper blades and the windshield wouldn’t clear, so I stopped at Bay City Sausage in order to turn around there. I then headed to AutoZone to get new blades.
In the days since the dead battery and the wiper blades, I’ve received many sentiments of “Welcome Home,” “Welcome Back,” and “Glad you’re back here,” from people who call Grays Harbor home. Those sentiments are from people who are genuinely glad to have me here. Thank you all. I’ve received a few drinks from people — not from people who want me to write a story, but because they genuinely like me. I like them and I appreciate their generosity. I can pay for my own drinks, but I’m happy to accept because I know they’re offering out of friendship, not angling for coverage. I’ve found a lot of genuine people here, including my friends Rocky, Odie, Jeff, Aaron, Jared and many others. Seriously, there are too many to count and if I did, I would feel awful if I forgot a name. I’m happy to call them friends and I hope they see this column.
In the past two years and two months, friends have helped in other ways. Whether that be the many who have lent an ear for me to vent, provided an electric blanket so I’m warm in my crummy apartment — thank you Kimmy, bought me dinner — thank you Colleen, or just said hello, thank you. And then there was the massive rock show last month that many of the area’s musicians threw at Messy Jessy’s Bar and Grill to celebrate me and my coverage on the music scene, as well as the work I’ve done throughout the Harbor. They also included a letter Wil Russoul wrote to the higher-ups at Sound Publishing, the company that owns The Daily World. The letter came complete with signatures from people who supported Russoul’s words. He told me he could have gotten a lot more signatures than the 71 who signed below the letter.
A few of the signatures on the letter also came with a nice sentiment.
One of the messages was “I’m enjoying a subscription — 1st time in decades,” the person wrote. “So good to have local coverage.”
Another one of the signatures, by musician Ryan Baker, said “Thanks for all you do for us.”
While a few of the signatures came complete with a drawn smiley face, one business owner — Amy Smith — signed and tagged her business, Nirvana Coffee Co., to her signature.
On Tuesday, Russoul said he wrote the letter a few weeks before the event. He sounded excited that it was going to be printed in the paper.
“Glad it’s gonna do something,” Russoul said.
A place like no other
Since 2018, I’ve worked for three different newspapers — The Jonesboro Sun in Jonesboro, Arkansas; Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, Illinois, and The Daily World. While I’ve worked hard at each place, tried integrating my personal self into the community, and made friends in each city, I’ve never felt such a collective warmth from the people who live where I report as I have in Grays Harbor County.
Thank you all.