Many times this summer I forgot that at 21, when I sit at a desk and wear work-appropriate attire, I present myself as an adult. So if I said "cool" or "sweet" when I interviewed you, this was not an attempt to relate to a younger generation and make them feel comfortable or come across as "hip," but a sincere and inadvertent slip into everyday language.
Between waiting tables at The Hop Yard Alehouse & Grill and interning here at the Pleasanton Weekly this summer, I feel like I spoke with at least half of Pleasanton's population on a fairly regular basis. Well, I certainly saw a lot of my hometown but probably not half of the population, as I still think "small town" is a quaint exaggeration that doesn't entirely apply outside of downtown. While occasionally something would remind me of the jokes that begin "you know you live in Pleasanton when..." (like the number of people I interviewed that know my dad, or mom, or sister, or brother, or best friend, and so on), I was more consistently reminded of the opportunities I have had because of the community I was fortunate enough to grow up in.
There are the obvious ones that most university students who went to high school in Pleasanton can tell you. I felt fully prepared for higher education thanks to a series of dedicated, challenging and mostly outstanding teachers. In my classes I learned with, and from, an exceptional group of peers--people who asked the right questions, put information in perspective and explained things in different ways. I also remember laughing and learning going hand in hand a lot more often than the stereotypical high school experience would allow.
And as I put together the sports page, reading about youth sports and getting pictures of athletes in action, I saw familiar faces of teammates I still see around town, coaches that still remember those close games. These people taught me how to be a better person, a team player, how to follow through, push myself, push others and they genuinely cared about me. Many of those same people are still dedicating themselves to the game and the kids in a place that makes it easy to get involved.
And then there is this. I had the opportunity this summer to write about Pleasanton at a local paper where my editors had enough confidence in me to let me write stories largely on my own from the beginning. I'm still not sure why they did that, but I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity. I am also extremely grateful to Emily West, Janet Pelletier and Jeb Bing for sharing their knowledge, industry experience and time with me all summer, as well as everyone else here at the Weekly that made this such an incredible experience and enjoyable place to be.
Not only did an internship in Pleasanton mean a short commute, free rent at my parents' house and valuable bonding time with my 10-month-old nephew (and the rest of my wonderful family), but it also allowed me to talk to people I love about a place I love. Thank you to everyone who answered my questions, went out of your way to help me and shared some of your time talking with me or reading my stories this summer.
Over the years, I have seen this community rally to support people, families, causes that need it. Just as an example, Jeb wrote about the Olson family this summer. Lori Olson is one of my best friends, someone I still talk to regularly and one of the strongest and most beautiful people I know. The fact that I am still friends with someone I met in third grade illustrates another aspect of Pleasanton I value, but that's not really the point. This family's story illustrates the strength and support of the community of Pleasanton in a way I can't really describe. I am proud to be a part of that community.
So as I leave town again, making post-college plans and excessively vague career goals, I know I will still be a part of the community whether or not I live here for a long time, likely forever. I will try to be a responsible member of whatever community I end up in just like my coaches, my teachers, my siblings, my mom, my dad and so many other role models in this town. Thank you for the many opportunities to become that person, the confidence I have gained to believe I can, and the many examples proving it's possible.