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Well, Yellow Springs, it’s been a really, really great two years

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Well, Yellow Springs, it’s been a really, really great two years, but I’m headed out for the unforgiving terrain of westernmost Texas. I didn’t ever expect I’d end up here in the village, but I’m very glad I did.

I first came to Yellow Springs when I was in college, as one of my closest friends had decamped from Zanesville and made his home here. I was introduced to his amazing circle of friends and the pleasant, welcoming vibe of the village. But at the time, I was into the hustle and bustle of big cities and didn’t really understand how people could live somewhere with only two commercial streets or in a place where almost everyone knows who you are.

But then my sweetheart moved to the village not long after we met, and in short order I was coming here about three times a week. I became familiar with more of the places in town and deep in the woods, and I got to know many of the characters that always seem to be out and about downtown.

I always associated Yellow Springs with a sense of tranquility and nice weather, and with the additional presence of some of my closest friends, the village became an increasingly meaningful place to escape. And so when the position of reporter at the Yellow Springs News came available a little over two years ago, it was easy to imagine myself here fulltime. I decided to move to Yellow Springs and see what happened.

I never had a job speak to me like I knew this one would, and I lobbied as hard as I ever have to get hired somewhere. I feel I was almost comically eager to impress – I dropped off my resume and writing samples at the office, then emailed them, then delivered them to different staff members in person. I was eventually called for an interview, and while I can’t speak for Lauren and Diane, I felt that I had somehow been as articulate and witty as I’d ever been.

In the meantime, I tried my hand in a local restaurant in case the News didn’t work out. But within a few minutes, I realized that I was completely not cut out for food service. I kept getting in everyone’s way and irritating the experienced servers, and so at the end of my second four-hour shift, the manager and I both looked at each other and nodded in agreement that we should part ways. Fortunately, my interview at the News must have gone as well as I thought, because on July 9, 2015, I got an email saying I was hired on at the News as a reporter.

I was at home washing dishes at the time, and when I saw the email, I flipped my sponge into the sink and walked outside triumphantly into the sun, knowing at that moment that my life was about to change for the better. However, the email did not include info about when I should come in or when I should start, and after a day or two I walked to the office and found Lauren sitting outside. She invited me to sit down and gave me half of her sandwich. She explained the News’ schedule and gave me my first assignments, a preview of an art show hosted by the Tecumseh Land Trust and an update on what was going on with Norah’s community breakfasts.

I was pretty ambitious with the stories, at one point describing in legal detail what a land trust was and providing a history of the town’s geography; an article I wrote not long after about mosquitoes included a 1,000-word section about the insects’ lifecycles and natural history. Diane and Lauren (and a little while later Audrey) patiently helped me get a sense for the pacing and organization of a story (and reign in my propensity for way too much information) and made a point to nurture my interests by giving as wide a variety of stories as possible.

Yours truly at my home away from home (photo by my good friend Shawn Khemsurov)

Long story short, two years later, I’ve never been so enamored with a job nor identified so closely with a profession. I was basically given professional license to ask probing questions and spend all day researching stuff and talk to interesting people, sometimes for hours. It was a really cool way to get to know a town, and it was crazy to think that this was what I did for a living.

Being at the News was like going to grad school or some kind of writing bootcamp. The standard of quality at this paper is really high, and it was exciting and sometimes maddening trying to push myself to do the paper justice. Working here has been invaluable to me as a writer, but also as a human being. Everyone is so smart and interesting and passionate about what they do, and you can’t help but be motivated and inspired by such a brilliant crowd. I will miss them tremendously.

I hope that everyone reading this, everyone I’ve talked to, everyone I’ve interviewed, everyone who’s given me a glimpse into their fascinating job or hobby, everyone who’s patiently explained something to me, everyone who’s tracked down obscure documents or other historical materials and practically anyone else I’ve come into contact with for any reason knows how truly grateful I am for every single one of these opportunities. Every day of my life here put me in contact with someone doing something interesting or endowed me with some tremendous insight into the area’s biology, history and anthropology. I figured out where to get the best espresso, my favorite places to bike, and made a lot of exceptionally cool friends. My time here in the village has made for a chapter in my life that will certainly define the rest of it.

So anyway, thanks Yellow Springs for everything! The upcoming paper will be my last, as I’m heading out of town next week, presumably for good. I’m excitedly looking forward and fondly looking back, and I will definitely be guided by my experiences in the village everywhere I go. Smell ya later!

Although I was glad to write about everything that I did, here are a handful of stories I really liked working on and that I feel turned out particularly well:

On the discovery of unknown burials in the Glen Forest Cemetery

On salvaging and eating the deer hit by cars

An overview of the Rumpke waste processing facility

On the Glen’s lone ranger

Figuring out what the hell was going on downtown with everyone playing the new Pokemon game

A longtime school custodian retires

The formation of the YSHS bowling team

Profoundly fascinating research into a profoundly sad topic

And all of the Yarn Registry and Hidden Springs web posts that I got to do! Thanks again!




One Response to “Well, Yellow Springs, it’s been a really, really great two years”

  1. Sue T. Parker says:

    Thank you for the very fine writing, Dylan.
    I will miss your stories.
    But I think West Texas could use a good researcher and writer.
    I especially like your Ode to your bike!

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