It’s Jasmine’s Turn column: Goodbyes will never get easier

The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

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A blackout poem was created from a page of Danielle Steel’s “Once in a Lifetime.” (Jasmine Johnson / Echo Press)

“Feeling more than a little saddened, she wrote, ‘Now what do I do?’

‘That is an interesting question. Why don’t you ask tomorrow.’

She assumed she would stay, but she longed to go.”

The lines above are compiled from a page of Danielle Steel’s “Once in a Lifetime,” but the majority of the page was blocked out to create this new message.

I created this by doing one of my favorite hobbies. Blackout poetry consists of picking up the text of a previously written work, selecting words that stand out on a page, figuring out a way to make the reader’s eye flow and crossing out the rest. I made this piece in January, but it sinks in a little more each time I read it on my apartment wall.


If there’s one life lesson I’ve learned repeatedly, whether leaving a three-day retreat or a career and community, it’s that goodbyes never get easier. Establishing roots in a place and relationships with people can happen with or without the luxury of time.

When I decided to major in journalism, my first long-term vision was to work for National Geographic, traveling and documenting life across cultures, climates and continents.

That is, until I interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Although it was faster in pace and larger in size than my preference, it still served a local audience and allowed me the chance to dabble in a variety of stories.

After this experience, I saw myself finding a full-time position where I could invest in a community, running into people I’d previously interviewed while shopping at Aldi or walking down Broadway Street.

That’s why the Echo Press was a perfect fit. By the time I joined the team as a general assignment reporter, I was walking into my dream job right out of college.

Whether covering city council meetings or writing profiles, researching building history pieces or sharing personal columns, I’ve treasured each new story idea as an opportunity to learn more about the personalities, businesses and history that make up Douglas County.

I’ve worked at the newspaper and lived within walking distance from the office for a year now. I assumed I would stay in Alexandria, but just as the blackout poem says, now I yearn to go.

I will be moving back to the Twin Cities, relocating closer to family members and college friends, pressing reset and trying to hang on tighter to the path God has for me than my attempt at control.


Other than that, I don’t have a ton of answers. I don’t even have a clear plan, for what seems like the first time ever.

New beginnings are a little terrifying, and closing chapters are very challenging. At the same time, turning the page is exhilarating, and quoting the wise words of Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

So instead of concluding this column with farewells, I’ll express sincere gratitude for all who have made this decision so difficult.

Thank you to my coworkers, who welcomed me with open arms, both in person and over Zoom calls. Thank you to those who shared pieces of their lives with me through story interviews. Thank you to strangers who smiled and greeted me downtown. Thank you to everyone who showed me just how special the Alexandria community is.

Jasmine Johnson joined the Echo Press staff in May 2020 as a general assignment reporter. She grew up in Becker, Minn., and later studied journalism and graphic design at Bethel University in Arden Hills, Minn.
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