By Gaige Davila
You’re reading my last issue of the PRESS as Editor. Allow me to wax poetic on my time here, as briefly as I can.
I’m happy to say I’ve finally made peace with the community I first called home. Doing so in two years is, compared to people who have run from their communities or dismissed them while they’re still there, seems unconscionable, but I did it.
But I really didn’t do anything: you, dear readers of the Laguna Madre, did. You allowed me to tell your stories and showed me hospitality that I hadn’t felt in a long time, not since I was an inexperienced, scared and naïve reporter in downtown San Antonio in the half year before I became editor of the Port Isabel-South Padre PRESS. Those communities validated my work, much as you have in response to my leading this historic paper. I cannot thank you all enough for your support. It was needed
You all also showed me that I have no reason to fear this place, my home, as I ignorantly did for so long, convinced I was somehow better than this community.
To hell with that. Truthfully, I was running from myself seven years ago, when I graduated from Port Isabel High School and moved to San Antonio to attend UTSA. And after two layoffs and nowhere else to run, I had to confront my community, myself, when I returned in the summer of 2019.
And by interviewing you all, telling your stories, listening, I learned how much of a privilege I had. Christ, I write for a living: how many people can say that at 25-years-old? I thank you all, the working class community of the Laguna Madre, for showing me your lives and grounding me to my own.
That being said, this job is a lot. And some of you have noticed. Regularly, some of you all comment that my name is often on most of the news stories in the PRESS and the features in the PARADE. A lot of late nights and early mornings were devoted to making those stories, never once was I tempted to make shortcuts to finish them. I wanted to make sure anyone featured, and the stories themselves, were represented properly, regardless how tired or frustrated I was. And I’m glad that you all noticed that, too. It carried me through.
All the writers I’ve had the pleasure of editing were godsent. Especially when COVID-19 made its unwelcome appearance here, the stringers we have/had were more than willing to donate their time and skills to make sure the paper was filled with helpful information for readers, when we had no money to spend. And that continues today, and I’m thankful for our sports, gardening and history writers for always providing excellent, interesting content for this newspaper.
All of the aforementioned people are why I continued working so hard on this paper, under so many constraints, when I was stretched so thin. So, I want to stress I’m not leaving this community, just this paper.
I’ll be starting a new job with Texas Public Radio on their Immigration and Border Desk in October. I’ll still be covering the Rio Grande Valley and the Laguna Madre area, particularly SpaceX and LNG. So, I’m going from figuratively to literally using my voice for this community and the Valley at large.
I’m very excited for the opportunity, and I hope that you all will continue following my coverage there. But I also ask that you continue supporting the PRESS and the PARADE. It will be here whether I am, and I want to see it thrive in my absence.
And I’m staying in Port Isabel. So, if you see me in town, please say hello. I wouldn’t be here without you.