As a culture, we are bad at saying goodbye.
We can celebrate, share kind words, throw a party. But our farewells fall short of fully acknowledging what goodbyes tend to mean. We can do better.
That is what I hope to do in writing this as I bid farewell to Haliburton and The Highlander.
There is an undercurrent of expectation in our online world that goodbyes are not entirely that. We promise to stay in touch. We might dream of returning. We think of the bonds we have forged and how they will tie us to a place forever.
But I have said “so long” to many places, things, people, that I did not return to. Seen close connections eroded by time and distance. We can connect online, but the medium is limited. It is never the same as being in a place physically.
A goodbye like this also represents a change of person as much as place. In bidding farewell, we let go of a part of ourselves. If we do return, we will probably not be quite the same.
It seems strange how much this place has imprinted itself on my heart in just two-and-a-half years. The open spaces and gorgeous landscapes certainly have charm, but they do not compare to the spirit of the people here. Haliburton is a thriving, vibrant community of artists, businesses and families. It is not nearly as peaceful as it might seem on the surface – cultural clashes and controversies abound – but I could even appreciate that discord as beauty. People are conflict as much as people are love and as a reporter, I find fascination in both.
I leave Haliburton not because I have fallen out of love with it. It is because I hope to further my career by taking a position as a municipal reporter in Newmarket. Like many a young person, I know for all its incredible opportunities, there are some things you cannot experience without leaving Haliburton’s borders. Reluctant as we are to do so.
When we bid goodbye, we should recognize it as both a beginning and an end. My relationship with Haliburton will never be the same, and many of the relationships I have made with the people here will change as well.
But I am not making an empty promise when I say I will be back. I truly do love it here. I cannot say when, how often, or in what capacity, but this will not be the last time I set foot here. Maybe I’ll be a tourist. Maybe I’ll have a family. Maybe I’ll come to retire. Time will tell.
Given my short time here, I know my impact was probably limited. Like the summer, the tourists, the crowds – I was fleeting. I can only hope my words and efforts to tell meaningful stories made a difference to people. I may be a blip in Haliburton’s long memory, but I hope I can be a blip remembered fondly.
Thank you to Haliburton for your kindness, support, and community. Thank you to The Highlander, the finest publication I have ever worked for, for helping me grow. I will never forget you.
I do not know how strong of a goodbye this is. More than getting better at saying it, I want to get better at fighting it. To tie myself to this place and treasure the mark it has left on me.
All I can promise is that I will try. Till we meet again.