Making a ‘home’ in Suffolk

Published 7:11 pm Friday, September 10, 2010

It’s getting to the point that every one of us has been affected by the economy this year, whether in big or small ways. For me, this meant that I was among the many workers who lost their jobs after their companies were faced with the choice of saving money to stay in business or keeping valued employees on the job.

I was unemployed for a month.

Looking back, this doesn’t seem like a long time. But, for someone who has always had a job since taking my first gig as student employee at the college library five years ago, even one day of forced “vacation” was too much.

I spent the first week of unemployment gorging on cookies during the day and baking more cookies at night. Let me just say this — there is nothing like triple-chocolate-coconut-walnut cookies to drown your sorrows.

Then, like thousands of other people across the country, I began sending out an avalanche of resumes, cover letters and emails, searching for that elusive job that seemed just beyond my grasp.

After a month without even a whisper of encouraging news, hope came from a surprising place. Tim Reeves, who was then the editor of the Suffolk News-Herald, sent me a Facebook message asking me to come in for an interview.

The surprising part was that I had no idea Suffolk even had a newspaper. Until this year, I rarely crossed the tunnels to South Hampton Roads. In my four years at Christopher Newport University, I went to Virginia Beach once. I saw one show in Norfolk. But generally I was content hanging around Hampton and Newport News.

At the time I only knew one thing about Suffolk — there’s apparently a famous peanut sporting a top hat, monocle and cane somewhere in the city. Mind you, I’d never actually driven to visit the hallowed monument. But, I did know of its existence.

So, my first trip to Suffolk was for a job interview, and the rest, as you can probably tell, is history. Four months later, I still live in Hampton and now make the crossing to Suffolk every day to design pages for the News-Herald and The Tidewater News in Franklin.

And despite not technically being a Suffolkian, I find myself making a home in the community; at least, I’ve found my favorite places to eat, which I think is the best marker of when a community becomes a home.

Thanks to a welcoming community and an employer willing to take a chance on me, I’ve found the silver lining to what seemed like an inescapable storm cloud.

And don’t worry, Suffolkians. Not only have I finally seen the famous Planter’s Peanut, I pay my respects every day as I drive by the monument on my way to work.