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Time to say goodbye

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wave Detroit Lakes, 56501
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Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Every week for the past two years -- with the exception of one internet-challenged vacation to New York and a chaos-crammed orientation at Concordia -- I've sat down to write a column for the Wave.

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After penning more columns than I can count (it's been a distressingly lengthy stretch since my last math class), I'm passing the metaphorical hat (and considering construction of a physical one) to the next kid begging for a byline.

As I told a friend eyeing my coveted page placement, applying was one of the better choices I've made, being published one of the more fascinating things I've done, writing for a readership easily one of my favorite pastimes.

Two years is a long time. Long enough to watch a new president labor through legislative and environmental disasters; to live in two dorms with two roommates at two colleges in two cities over the course of declaring three majors; to watch Little Brother -- whose birth is my first real memory -- begin high school and turn into a kid cool enough to hang out with in public (if only I were cool enough for the reciprocal); to turn a friend into my boyfriend and best friend; and to get exactly two good haircuts and an another uncountable number's worth of ones that made me contemplate becoming either a monk or Natalie Portman.

When I wrote my first column two Augusts ago, I hadn't the faintest idea of what to say (beyond a blatant desire to inform anyone who might stumble across it precisely how to pronounce my first name).

I was scared to write something that nobody (besides my duty-bound family) would read, intimidated by a submission not graded by a teacher but critiqued by any one newspaper subscriber, terrified to start my career as a columnist with the sort of story no one would want to read the sequel to (not to mention, of course, being anxious as to whether I'd be able to stomach a sequel at all after the dizzying effect of the first).

But even though it hasn't always been easy to come up with a topic, find time following homework or make my words come across how I intended them to, I wouldn't trade it for 20 bags of Berry Colossal Crunch.

I recently read through some old columns, finding that I've learned a few things since starting.

For one, I'm an incredibly witty person. (It's okay to laugh; I promise it won't go to my head.)

I've learned that your audience is as smart as you let them be...

...But if your readers need a dictionary or a grammatician (which is a just-made-up title for someone who can weave through complicated sentence structure), you might be challenging them a tad too much.

I learned that when you have something to say, it's easy to put it to paper, but when you're speechless, having a column due the next morning is like those dreams where it's opening night and you're the lead but you don't know your lines.

And when you do have something that needs to be said, it's pretty terrific to have somewhere to say it, because knowing that you've released your piece into the cosmos to be heard or read or ignored or scoffed at -- so long as it's out there -- is an exhilaration.

I've found that the more faces I can imagine reading my column (from an astonishing number of people who've admitted -- always under duress, naturally -- that they do), the more I wanted to write one worth their while.

In two years, this column has become cathartic, a therapeutic opportunity to chronicle my experiences and interpretations of them, release the occasional rant and tell some stories I hope gave someone a chuckle, a grin, a sigh, a tsk-tsk or some semblance of reaction or emotion or comprehension in exchange for giving me an outlet and an audience.

And so, in conclusion, thanks for reading.

Thressa Johnson graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and attends Hamline University in St. Paul.

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