Often times when people around town ask what brought me to Marion, I always feel there may be more inquiries behind the original question, but most don’t feel comfortable asking.
It’s a little difficult to write about, but it is an abnormal situation. I’m a single, African American, 23-year-old, college graduate living in a city that, largely, is not my demographic. Most people I’ve come across here are either 10 years older and married or a few years younger and in a very different place in their lives.
This isn’t saying I’m complaining either. I came here by chance, and in the nine months I’ve lived here, I’ve learned a lot about growing up.
June of last year I was finishing my last couple of classes at Ottawa University, and I realized my childhood was sort of over. I love my parents to death, but I was not interested in moving home with them at the time, so one random night I just began searching for jobs. I originally wanted to move out of Kansas and work somewhere foreign to me. In hindsight, I’m glad that didn’t happen.
The Marion County Record opening was the very last posting available that night, and it was actually the only opening in Kansas. The position was articulated in a way that interested me far above any of the other listings, so I did my due diligence to find what and where Marion actually was.
Ironically, that day was the very last day the job posting was available, so I knew there was not much time to think about it. I e-mailed Eric Meyer that night, and set up an interview for that weekend. I’d like to say that coming up and seeing Chingawassa Days and the excitement of the city just tipped my decision, but I honestly didn’t care. I always had been the kid venturing to do things my friends wouldn’t dare, and I liked the challenge of throwing myself in a situation and seeing what could happen.
The truth is I really don’t know why I’m here, but I couldn’t imagine how different I would be if I hadn’t come.
I’ve had a chance to experience the inner-workings of city government, and interact with city administrators, county commissioners, and other high-ranking officials. I’ve been able to interview and learn about people I’d never encountered before. I’ve had a chance to watch and write about high school athletic teams in the area, getting to know some of those athletes in the process — a strange change from being one of them my whole life.
Most importantly, I feel I’ve learned what it means to be alone. It’s tough not to be able to confide in people going through the same experiences as you. I’ve always had teammates, family, and friends for that. This is just a situation unique to anyone I know. You really start to think differently about yourself, and your goals.
While I still don’t know what kind of fate or chance it was that landed me here, I do understand who I am and what I want to be. I can only attribute that to my time in Marion.
All that being said, if you made it this far I hope you feel free to speak the next time we cross paths. It’s always dope to learn about other people.