Glad to be back down SouthPublished 8:45pm Saturday, October 13, 2012
When I decided to leave everything I have ever known including my family, close friends, and Shih Tzu puppy named Gilbert to head west for the adventure of a lifetime, I didn’t exactly know how everything would pan out. People had warned me about the western region being “different,” “cold” and “barren,” and even though I would later find out those characteristics were definitely true, I had to find out for myself.
I arrived in Riverton, Wyoming the third weekend in November 2011 in a “white-out” that I later learned was something to be avoided entirely when driving a vehicle.
This of course was told to me after I tried to maneuver through the snow with my windshield wiper blades going as fast as they could, and occasional slips of my tires from the ice setting in on the road.
The only person I knew in the town was the man who hired me for the newspaper position I was relocating for, and within the first hour of my arrival I was given a rug to put at my front door to catch the snow from my shoes, immediately realizing I was a LONG way from home.
Although there were many trials of learning how to drive on ice (everyone in Wyoming boasts they can do it. I still firmly believe no one can drive on ice), figuring out a community vastly different than the one I grew up in, setting aside enough time in the mornings before work to scrape ice off of my windshield, and making sure I had an emergency survival kit in my trunk for those possible moments of being stranded in the middle of nowhere, I enjoyed the area immensely.
I was two hours from Yellowstone National Park, the nearest Starbucks, and the easiest airport that would allow me to travel back home. Antelope, buffalo, big horn sheep and elk were creatures I had never seen before, and suddenly became common, and Wyoming had some of the nicest people I had ever met. Their kind hearts were often tucked deep within a tough exterior that I now know mainly stemmed from dealing with some of the harshest winters in the country.
However, I missed my home a lot. I grew up in Alabama using the phrase “ya’ll”, drinking sweet tea, and not having to purchase gloves that dealt with minus 20 degree temperatures. I enjoyed mild winters, getting to eat fried green tomatoes, and the short drive to some of the most beautiful beaches.
So, when I found out there was an opportunity to report near my hometown of Birmingham, I jumped on the possibility.
A few days after my initial inquiry with the Clanton Advertiser, I found out I would be moving back to the southern region I held most dear.
I packed up my winter belongings, said goodbye to dear friends who promised me I would have a place to stay if I should return in the summertime (never the winter), and trekked more than 1,600 miles back to Alabama.
I now have the opportunity to report in Chilton County and get to know new faces while living in a region I am comfortable with.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss Wyoming just a tad, but when I walk in most places I am greeted with a smile, “ya’ll” is an accepted phrase, I don’t have to worry about gliding on ice, tea is sweet, and I get the privilege to learn new stories about the people living in Chilton County.
–Emily Etheredge is a staff writer for The Clanton Advertiser. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.