A Yankee’s Farewell (For now)

Published 9:46 am Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Since moving to Oxford over a year ago, there’s one question I’m (understandably) always asked: How did a guy from Connecticut wind up here? For me, the answer is simple: I wanted to try something new. I wanted adventure. And that’s exactly what I got.

As the days inch closer to starting my new job as a reporter in Baltimore, I’m struck with an array of emotions. Oxford has given me countless friends, acquaintances, mentors and endless stories to tell when I reflect on my year (and three months) spent in the Deep South.

I came to The Oxford Eagle fresh out of graduate school from Syracuse. The extreme difference in climates wasn’t the only thing to which I had to adjust. There was my northern accent, my fast speech patterns and assorted cultural differences in between (I’m still wrapping my head around the wondrous chicken-on-a-stick). In other words, I’m “not from around here.”

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But none of that mattered to you — the readers. Or to the people who spoke to me for the stories that I wrote while at the EAGLE. It didn’t matter to Oxford’s business owners, restaurant staffs and bartenders, who always welcomed me in to their establishments. Nor to the people who adopted me as their own in the Grove one picturesque September day. I’ll miss the good times I’ve had here, but I’ll miss the people the most.

Journalism was perhaps the best job I could have had to break into this community. As a reporter, I’m thrust into Oxford and Lafayette County, talking to people from all walks of life. I’ve learned that everyone has a story even if it never makes the front page.

I’m thankful to David Magee, our publisher, for having faith in a Yankee who knew nothing about what it’s like to live in Mississippi. Thank you, as well, to my editor Alex McDaniel, our past managing editor, Rob Sigler and our current one, Donica Phifer, for guiding me through my first full-time newsroom experience. Also, I’d be remiss not to thank everyone else at the EAGLE office who made every day at my job not feel like work.

Though I look forward to this next chapter, this is not an easy exit for me. That final drive out of town won’t be a fun trip; Oxford will always feel like home. So, that’s why I’m saying, “goodbye for now.”

Nothing compares to sitting on the City Grocery balcony on a Friday night and watching the sunset over the Square. Nothing compares to tailgating under those magnolia trees on a beautiful Saturday. And, above all, nothing compares to Oxonians.

Southern hospitality is alive and well, thank you for this experience.

Andy Belt is a reporter at the EAGLE. Today is his final day. You can reach him at andy.belt@oxfordeagle.com.