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Everything Emma: Simply put, I love you, Athens

About a month ago, I traveled to Wilmington, North Carolina – the place I'll call home in a few short weeks, to apartment hunt before beginning my career as a broadcast television reporter. Landing this job was the greatest sense of accomplishment I have ever felt, but one night while sitting in my hotel room, I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of sadness. 

Although I was only away from Athens for a couple of days, I knew the remaining days were few and far between, and I hated thinking about missing out on even one night out at Courtside or a late-night run to Dairy Queen for ice cream with my roommates. This FOMO, or fear of missing out, led me to reflect on the whirlwind that has been my life here in Athens for the past four years.

It seems like yesterday: I was a 17-year-old touring Ohio University for the first time. It was a gloomy day, and the university was on Spring Break, so the campus was more or less lifeless to say the least. I remember wondering if it was the place for me. I didn't get that "it" feeling I was hoping for initially. And still to this day, I sometimes feel guilty for saying that because for so many other students, they did get that feeling almost immediately. My wonderful mother set up a meeting with the Dean of Scripps at the time, and we just so happened to schedule the visit for Halloween weekend. To say that a single day changed the entire trajectory of my life is an understatement. 

Students were present everywhere on campus that day, from those working hard (or hardly working) in Schoonover to others who had already begun celebrating the holiday on Mill Street. That feeling, combined with my tour of the journalism school, was enough to assure me that this was the place I'd call home for the next four years and counting. 

Within this time, I've had my ups and downs, as any college kid does, but those peaks have far outweighed the valleys.

If these bricks could talk, boy, would they have unforgettable stories to tell. Like many others, I am happy knowing my stories are why Bobcats are forever indebted to this town. I now have my fair share of memories to bring with me into the next chapter of my life. I can't wait to tell the new people I meet all about my six roommates who once lived at an old brick house on College Street who loved to sit (but realistically rot) on the couch, watch three or more movies back-to-back on a Sunday, play games and sing until we physically couldn't speak; the nights wandering up and down Court Street going into J Bar, then to Courtside then back into J Bar and probably Crystal, too; bonfires at our friends' house who lived just a little way up the street; hours spent in the WOUB newsroom (so many I began to feel delusional) and the countless sleepovers with all of my best friends, even if we did live right across the hall or up the stairs from one another. The memories and people I have met in this unforgettable town we all call Athens are undeniably irreplaceable. 

As a 22-year-old, I now love not only the brisk fall days when the leaves are changing colors and the spring days when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, but I love the gloomy days too. Knowing I won't experience any more of those days, even the rainy ones, is enough to bring me to tears. 

So I'll keep it short and sweet and save you all the sentiments. But simply put, I love you Athens, and I forever hope we meet again. 

This is Emma Dollenmayer's farewell column for The Post after four years of being on the staff. Emma is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Emma know by tweeting her @emmadollenmayer.

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