Opinion

Renton: Not my hometown yet, but I'm working on it | OUR CORNER

I have to admit, when last week's Renton Reporter landed in my driveway, I quickly grabbed it and made a joke to my wife about the good-looking new assistant editor on page 3.

I, of course, also re-read the story about me, but when I got to the quote about working at my "hometown paper," I cringed a bit. I had meant to say something about working for my local paper but used the word "hometown" and that's not fair to either my actual hometown or folks who have grown up in or lived in Renton longer than I have.

Truth is, I have only lived in Renton for about a year, though to be fair, it was the best year of my life. Someday my children may refer to the city as their hometown, but I didn't want to come off as some sort of claim jumper or panderer.

My actual "hometown" is Whitney Point, N.Y. It's a tiny rural community in Upstate New York, north of Binghamton. It's about 45 minutes south of Syracuse and an hour north of Scranton, Pa. (I don't know why everyone seems to know where Scranton is, but for some reason, that's the city most folks can mentally locate the quickest.)

But, to be fair, even that is not my "hometown," though it is where I graduated high school and my parents still live today, so I consider it such.

I spent my first six years or so in Philadelphia (GO PHILS!) and then moved to Endicott, N.Y., a suburb of Binghamton in New York's Southern Tier, before my folks bought the house out in the Point.

I went to college in Albany, where I majored in American history and minored in journalism. I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2002, when the girl I was with at the time got a job offer too good not to take.

It worked out better with the area than with the girl, however, as we went our separate ways a year later, her to Manhattan, me to, of all places, Tacoma.

I had gotten a job covering Bonney Lake out in East Pierce County for a paper in Puyallup and Tacoma was the closest actual city to the office. I didn't expect to be in that apartment for particularly long, so much so that I didn't even want to sign the year-long lease as I feared it was too long.

But time has a way of getting away from you, and before I knew it eight years had passed. I had even begun to develop the "Tacoma gets a bad rap" chip on my shoulder.

When it came time for The Girl, who lived and works in Seattle, and I to move in together, we, like thousands of other residents and businesses, immediately recognized Renton was the place for us.

Location, location, location; right?

Not only was Renton a good middle ground, it provided me easy access to the highways and byways I need to get to both my office in Enumclaw (State Route 169) and my beat in Bonney Lake (State Route 167), as well as not being too far from Girl's work.

We also loved the downtown and the more urban feel it provided and when we stumbled across our little Birdhouse (it's a They Might Be Giants reference, for the record) in North Renton, we immediately fell in love with it.

We officially moved in Jan. 31, 2012. I proposed that night and we were married in September. And within the year, I had accepted the position as assistant editor at the Renton Reporter.

Like I said, best year of my life. Thanks, Renton!

And while Renton may not be my hometown, it is certainly my home now and I plan to be here for the foreseeable future.

Admittedly, I did not spend the last year doing too much exploring in the city, as The Girl and I had other things on our plate, as well as my stupid long commute. So, of course, we are looking for suggestions about things we absolutely must see/do/try in Renton.

I am sure I will have many years to discover all of the great things this city has to offer, but I'd love to get some advice on where to start.

For example, one resident called last week with a lunch spot suggestion and I will absolutely check out that burger place very soon. Thanks for the tip.

I will be trying to bring some fresh eyes to the paper and the city and hope to share with you all what Emily and I find and do as we further invest ourselves in our neighborhood and community.

As reporters, we often get more invested in the communities and cities we cover than where we live, since we spend so much time getting to know the players and issues in our beat. It often means our actual communities see less of us – and our involvement – than our beat cities. I certainly know that was the case with me. I easily spent more time and energy in – and was more invested in – Bonney Lake than Tacoma.

I am excited to now be investing all of my energy in the place where I live, for a change. But as I said, I am still learning and am by no means any sort of Renton expert yet.

So send in your suggestions and news tips. What should we see? Who should I meet? What do I absolutely need to know about Renton?

This may not be my hometown yet, but give me some time. I'll get there. I promise.

And if you see me out in the stores or at a park or riding my bike along the Cedar River Trail, please don't hesitate to say hello. To paraphrase Bogie, I hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship...

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