Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Big Goodbyes

There are lots of words of caution TV mentors give rookies. "The pay and the hours suck." "It's a rat race." "You move hundreds or thousands of miles from home to the middle of nowhere… and you become best friends with the people you work with." But sooner or later, those people try to get ahead in the rat race and move away. 

I can deal with the middle-of-the-night calls during breaking news. 
I can learn to live frugally because of an always near-empty bank account. 
What's the toughest is saying goodbye to my family-like friends.

When someone leaves Medford it's always bittersweet. Bitter for obvious reasons. But sweet because the outgoing person is always moving on to something better. A better job, better pay, closer to home, more stable hours. Something enticing enough to pull them away from a place they've grown into and people they have sincere relationships with.

Three months after moving here my two closest friends moved away on the same day (one to her hometown, another to a station where she could finally report). In early March, three people moved away on the same weekend. One moving to a 6-hour drive home (instead of a 3-part flight plan), one to a big city (Nashville), and another making an insanely huge career jump (CBS in San Francisco, market #6).

Dozens others have come and gone, but those five people were my close friends. We hung out on weekends and weekdays and were surrogate family. Surrogate, but temporary.

Today, one of my closest friends has left the mountains and valleys of Southern Oregon for the skyscrapers and flouride-enriched tapwater of her hometown, Chicago. She couldn't be happier. I consider Kaylin my work sister. We were supposed to start on the same day, but a family vacation pushed mine back two weeks. There were times I got frustrated with her, but nevertheless got over it. She gave advice and offered friendship. For a few months weekend rituals involved sleeping on her spare bed when I couldn't drive home, then having Sunday night "family dinners." She was there for group trips to the Oregon coast, Portland, and jumping in Crater Lake. Because we're digital journalists, there's documentation of just about all of it. A self-described commitment-phobe, she admits her goodbye was "so emotional that she wasn't emotional." I don't understand it either, but I accept it anyway. In a goodbye letter, she called me her first real friend. It's the most emotion she's revealed to me, and I cherish it. I'll miss Kaylin, but I believe I'll see her again, and wish her the best until that day comes.

At the end of this week, we lose another great guy, Julian. He's been in Medford less than a year but quickly became one of my best friends here and best guys I've ever met. A Phoenix native, his easy-going, yet excitable personality became a reliable presence on football Sundays. He and I battled it out for Fantasy Football title (I won and I don't think he's dropped the grudge yet). With quotable sayings and copyable mannerisms, he was just fun to be around. Always one to joke and look on the bright side, he was a great to hang out with. As a camera operator he quickly grew from unsure to a confident and trustworthy. Now, he's taking his talents to Albuquerque where the pay is better and the drive home is an actual possibility. Less than a year after getting here, he's leaving Medford and leaving a great impression on those he's become close with.

People come into your life and people leave. When you're away from home, they're all you have. And when they're gone, it's that much harder. It's something I don't think I'll ever get used to. And I don't think I'm supposed to.

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