In a way, I can relate to the man who married a mannequin.

I told the story of Ned Nefer in July 2011 — about four months into my tenure as a reporter for the Daily Messenger in Canandaigua. Here’s a quick look at what I wrote about Ned’s journey:

“Nefer’s appearance is rugged from excessive time outdoors; his long black hair is strung out, his face red from the sun, his tie-dye shirt dirtied, and he’s missing a front tooth. But there’s a genuine sweetness in his voice when he says he loves Teagan — his mannequin companion.”

In my case, journalism is my mannequin bride.

Even before my interview with Ned, I was told this by a source: “You know you work for the worst paper in the world, right?”

Wait, what?!

There was more of that — cynicism from those in the community ran rampant when it came to the local newspaper. Like Ned — and his non-fiction version of “Lars and the Real Girl” — I encountered a steady stream of snide (or straight-up mean) comments.

This is where I can really relate to Ned. He was self-aware of the mockery he received, but just didn’t care. He told me that he and Teagan are together, and that is all that matters to him.

First off, kind of romantic, dude. Well done! Second, that’s a great attitude. I loved the work I did at that newspaper and the things I’m continuing to do at my new position with News 8 in Rochester. I believe the classic quote (was it Shakespeare?) goes: “Haters gonna hate.”

I’ve had time to reflect on my time reporting on Ontario County government, schools, beer, etc. since I left the Messenger in January. In my three years there, I got to do so many amazing things, meet great characters and explore the area. And while I dedicated a lot of this space to the curmudgeons I encountered along the way, I also discovered the Finger Lakes is home to some pretty incredible people, as well.

I can’t list them all, but here’s a short rundown of awesome folks: The people who care so much about their community they rarely miss City Council, Town Board or Board of Education meetings; the mailman who saved a farmer’s life; a man dying of cancer who fulfilled his dream and recorded a truly rocking album; the man who donated a large sum of money to ensure Canandaigua will have a comfort-care home; and, of course, my one-time co-workers.

I have no idea what Ned is up to now, but I hope he’s still happy. And whether it’s walking across the state with Teagan or something else, I hope he’s still doing what he loves.

I know I am