Moving to a new town is always an adjustment, but you don't know exactly how it's going to change you until your belongings are unpacked and wherever you came from slips quietly into the past.
I moved to Payson last week from Steamboat Springs, Colo. to become the editor of the Payson Roundup.
I had only been in town for five minutes when the first person I passed smiled and gave me a friendly "Hello." I cocked my eyebrow and wondered, "Why is he being so nice?"
What I didn't know then, but I'm learning, in Payson strangers aren't afraid to smile at each other, the pace of life is slower and the sun shines.
I was leaving an afternoon matinee at the Sawmill Theatres last week and as I walked through the lobby one man commented, "Is this a race?"
I realized I was still keeping pace with another place and another mentality.
I left 11 feet of snow in Colorado and my back is still a little sore from all the shoveling.
Cold weather people tend to keep to themselves and walk as fast as possible from one warm spot to the next. But I'm already starting to warm up.
In one week in Payson, I'm learning to enjoy the friendliness without being suspicious and I'm learning to walk slower.
Unless, of course, if I'm with the Payson Packers.
I joined the group for my first hike in the area this weekend and out there on the dry trail, there was still more to learn -- a new ecosystem and a new way of interacting with it.
That learning is why I became a journalist. I have a natural curiosity and there is no better way to fill that curiosity about the world than working at a newspaper.
I was 24 when I realized this was my life's calling. I was backpacking through Mongolia when I met another 24-year-old American who was working as the editor of the Mongol Messenger. He was so deeply involved in the politics and society of Mongolia -- learning firsthand what I was trying to learn as an outsider.
He opened my eyes. I canceled the rest of my trip and flew back to the United States where I enrolled in the University of Southern Maine and joined the staff of the college's newspaper.
Since then, I've worked for publications in Maine, Turkey and Colorado.
The adventure continues in Payson.
My first night in town, I attended the candidate forum in the Payson High School auditorium.
As I sat in that crowded auditorium and looked around, I got excited to be the editor in a community where it's hard to find a parking space on the night of a political debate, where the seats are filled and people are taking notes.
I'm impressed with how involved everyone is in the future of this town and I hope to be a positive part of that future.