Last updated: June 01. 2013 11:52AM - 603 Views
Jessica Pickens
Staff Writer

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A year ago I found a new home.

Nervous, homesick and excited, I moved to Elkin to work as the Tribune’s newest reporter, not knowing anyone or having any relatives nearby.

Originally from Greenville, S.C. - population 60,000 - it was a slight adjustment moving to a smaller town. It was an odd, but sometimes fun transition having people know me by my car, wave to me while I was walking and ask me about a date I went on before I had told anyone.

But the natural friendliness and laid back demeanor of my new home made it easy to slip into my new reporting job. The community was willing to be interviewed and patient with a new reporter not originally from this area.

From the 48 Tribune Tributes I published every Friday to a feature story on World War II hero Fred Norman, each interview has been humbling. My articles reiterated one fact to me: that the Tribune was the voice of the community, here to serve and share the wisdom, good news and hardships of Elkin.

Not only was The Elkin Tribune my first reporting job out of college, it was also my first time living on my own.

As the youngest of three girls, my parents had always been there to help out and usually do the dirty work. Starting out, living on my own was a bit of a struggle. Learning that it took an act of God to turn on utilities, that bed sheets needed to be washed regularly and avocados will expire after two weeks hasn’t been my forte.

The life lessons I have learned in Elkin go much deeper than meeting deadlines, how to tell a story with a photo and time management. I’ve learned how to be more extroverted, and that it’s not scary to go to functions by yourself. I’ve found it easier to connect with people and felt the rewards of becoming involved with a community.

But most of all I’ve learned that people can be good. After living so long in a city where everyone was a stranger, I am continuously shocked and touched by the kindness that has been shown to me. I was treated like a friend and neighbor, rather than an outsider.

Reluctantly though, it is time to say goodbye to the place I’ve bragged about and happily called home to continue with my career.

I’ll be going back to where my journalism career began as an intern in August 2010 at The Shelby Star. The daily newspaper called me out of the blue and placed a job opportunity in my lap.

It’s been a tough decision. I love the Tribune and there hasn’t been a day I haven’t wanted to go to work, but I believe this is the right choice. However, I’ll never forget this beautiful little town where I learned so much about life.

I’ll miss running into Jerry Stroud on my jogs, the excitement of going to a Jaycee meeting, visiting my 63-year-old best friend Hilda Combs, learning about Elkin’s history from Jason Couch and listening to banter at Elkin Town Hall meetings.

But most of all I’ll miss waking up and being in Elkin.

Thank you to the community for trusting me to write about Elkin, for being patient as I learned the area’s history and for welcoming a South Carolinian into your beautiful town.

Though I’ll be relocating to Shelby, N.C., I’ll be leaving my heart in Elkin.

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