Elkins: Former intern hopes small with a heart never changes | CraigDailyPress.com

Elkins: Former intern hopes small with a heart never changes

Goodbye, Craig.

When I found out I'd be moving to Craig in a month, I was lounging by a pool in sunny Florida.

Being a fan of year-round warm weather, I was less than thrilled about the change from white sand beaches to mountains colder than the ones I grew up surrounded by in Virginia. Still, I packed up and traveled more than halfway across the country in support of my boyfriend's career because he deserves it — I haven't had a crazy dream he hasn't offered to help me chase.

Our first day here, I wanted to ride through Craig and check out what the city had to offer. I remember looking up and realizing we were heading back toward our apartment just a few minutes after leaving, prompting me to say, "That's it? That's the whole city?"

I was warned Craig was small before arriving, but I was shocked to learn just how small — even smaller than my little hometown.

Being from a small town with big personality, I should've known it isn't the size of the place that counts — it's the people who make it a community.

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I quickly began to see that, though. I was made to feel welcome everywhere I went. From the gas station, to the grocery store, to local restaurants — someone would almost always strike up a conversation with me about my southern accent, I'd tell them my story, and they'd welcome me with a big smile. I remember calling my mom and saying, "I've never met nicer people!"

Soon, I was an intern at the Craig Press and a member of Yampa Valley Young Professionals, and I couldn't believe how much I loved this little place. I knew all along, however, the day would come when my boyfriend's job required us to leave Craig, and I dreaded it.

That day is almost here and, as I'm packing to move to Oklahoma, I feel sad to be leaving. After more than a year here, I feel like a part of this community.

If someone had told me on my first day here that I'd feel this way about leaving, I would've said, "You're crazy."

Craig may not have white sand beaches, The Cheesecake Factory, or a mall with a Nordstrom, but it offers a sense of community and closeness you can't find in a big city. I'll take that over Nordstrom any day, and that's saying a lot for a girl with a shopping problem.

Since I'm leaving soon and preparing to take on a time-consuming graduate school program, this will be my last column for the Craig Press.

Living here and writing this column has been an amazing experience for me, and I've enjoyed interacting with and learning from my readers.

I want to thank the Craig Press for the opportunity, and readers for checking out what I've had to say each week.

More than anything, however, I want Craig residents to know what a special community you're a part of.

You're a small town with a lot of heart, Craig. I hope that never changes.