Tonawanda News — It’s been more than three years since I took over as features editor for the Tonawanda News and only a handful of months since that section was combined with that of the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal and the Niagara Gazette and I was named the Sunday Lifestyle editor.
In that time, there have been two articles that were particularly difficult for me to write: my very first column, introducing myself to you, and this one, my farewell column.
That first article, in which I introduced myself, was difficult to write mostly because I was so unsure. It had been years since I wrote for a newspaper — and it was a college paper at that. I started off with this newspaper group as a page designer and becoming a writer and editor was a scary venture for me at the time.
Would I use the right words? Would our readers think I was some bumbling idiot from Texas? Would I make my editor — and friend — Eric DuVall happy with his decision to hire me?
I wrote of my excitement for living in Western New York, my love for my adopted hometown and my joy at being paid to write about it.
I’m no longer so unsure of myself. I’ve grown leaps and bounds since that first day in November 2010 and I have my colleagues and readers here to thank for that.
My difficulty now is the fact that I’m leaving Western New York and returning to the state of my birth, Texas.
I’m not sad to return to the Dallas area. I love that city and my friends and family there dearly. But I also love the people I’ve grown to know as my family here.
I’ve been in a no-win situation since I stepped foot on the Canisius campus in 2000 and fell in love with Buffalo — whether I stayed in Western New York or left to return to Texas, I’d be missing someone, someplace.
I’ve taken a position as a news reporter at the Kaufman Herald in Kaufman, Texas. I look forward to the exciting professional opportunities the move holds for me, but I’m also eager to regale the folks there with my experiences “up North.”
Here in these pages, I’ve written about what makes good barbecue, the necessity of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, the nuances of certain Southern phrases I grew up with. Now I plan to tell the folks in Kaufman about everything that makes Western New York unique and a place I love — what makes for a good chicken wing, just what the heck a butter lamb is, and why a beautiful summer day makes all those months of snow and freezing temperatures so worth it.
What they’ll never really know is how the community and readers here have supported me and encouraged me, letting me know how some of the things I’ve written really have made an impact.
They’ll never know how fellow writer Jill Keppeler has taken me into her home time and again for holiday meals, to watch hockey and play video games with her sons, making me feel like one of the family.
Or how fellow features editors Michele DeLuca and Anne Calos have helped mentor and encourage me in our recent section consolidation, and, of course, made me laugh in our weekly phone conferences.
Or how reporter Jessica Bagley made me feel like maybe I do have some wisdom to pass on to the younger generation, even if she doesn’t really need it. Or how NT writer Mike Regan helped me realize sometimes you have to make a big bold move, even if it does seem scary.
Or how veteran community editor Barb Tucker offered guidance every time I needed it and constantly kept me on my toes with her quippy comments on life.
Or how page designers Jocelyn Delmar, Linda Noworyta, Marci Jordan and David Marra welcomed me into the group when I first started and taught me all about how this place really works.
Or how Eric DuVall and I have been the best of friends since that very first day in the Griffin newsroom at Canisius.
Even if we didn’t realize it at the time.
Now, here’s hoping this year’s dose of black-eyed peas gave me all the luck I’m going to need packing my entire apartment and driving 1,400 miles in just a week. This polar vortex thing sure gave me one heck of a Buffalo send off and delayed my plans.
Follow former Sunday Lifestyle editor Danielle Haynes on Twitter @DanielleHaynes1.