I will not forget you.

By Whitney WilsonJune 20, 2012

Nearly six years ago, I spent an October evening huddled under my loft bed at my desk in a small college dorm room reading the original TWLOHA story on MySpace. There were tears like streams from my eyes as I read every other blog on the page, soaking up all the words I could. I was living in a storm. Depression was a sly creature, rearing up and raging one second and on the edge of my horizon of calm the next. The words on the screen were anchors, a way to stay grounded as I rode out the storm, always there when I needed to drop the weights and be still.

TWLOHA became a constant in my life, the blogs like beacons calling me toward what was true. There were Red Bulls and 3 a.m. bulletins on MySpace, a time for knowing another night owl like me, kept awake by all the things he needed to say. Then, a transition to a real website that felt like growing up. Later, there was that proposition for some of us college kids to fill The Bungalow’s backyard with tents for a spring break, when I learned to separate fantastical ideas about community and the reality of humanity and weave them back together again. And always the words so many of us needed on holidays but couldn’t find anywhere else, giving us permission to be angry or sad or empty when it seemed like everyone else was full of hope and joy and family. Each time, all the blogs threaded with so many truths. Hope is real. Help is real. Your story is important. Such simple words that could change everything.

Three years after that, my words were the ones on the screen, in blogs for all of you to see. I tried like hell to make them like the anchors I once knew.

You were some of the first people to read my words. You read about my Memorial Day shenanigans, a time when I was learning to build a home within myself. Then, there was a chronicle of my adventures in Nashville, meeting people and representing TWLOHA for the first time on the road. You read about the things we found online that were so good we had to share them with you, when I learned what it meant to share the goodness I see in the world and give it a louder voice. In January, there was my first time visiting California and the sentence I carried back with me across the country, when I was trying to understand how to respect differences and find connection at the same time. You read about my path toward freedom, releasing myself from my own chains of expectation with a lot of tears and forgiveness.

And now, you’re reading about my leaving.

I have built a life here. I still believe in the mission of TWLOHA, the vision of rewriting the stories we live for the better. I appreciate the opportunity to play with words all day, to encourage the team to do the same, and to string words together for you. There are so many reasons to stay.

And yet. There is a hunger and a longing inside of me that will not be satisfied here, at TWLOHA or in Florida. I must leave to keep seeking my truth. In so many ways, this is the place where I started to understand what seeking my truth even means. These past three years have seen the beginning of me actually looking at myself in a clear mirror, the work of becoming the woman I want to be, and the realization of my own power and strength locked inside me if I would just turn the key. 

It is a scary step, to walk in the direction of uncertainty and away from security and stability. But what I have learned living here, being a part of TWLOHA’s story, is that it is a step worth taking. Choosing to live is hard, and choosing to live well is harder. Living well, for me, means rising and reaching . . . and now, leaving. 

You, the lovely TWLOHA readers, have helped me find a footing in myself and let me share my words along the way. Thank you so much for helping me surface within myself, for helping me realize I get to choose who I am and who I will be. Thank you for teaching me about loving strangers and knowing the gravity in the way words are arranged. 

I will not forget you. Your words on comment threads. Your faces from the road. Your stories in all their wildness and beauty. 

I will carry you with me when I go. 

Thank you. For everything.

—whitney

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