Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Year in the Life

A year ago on this day, I finished off the final six hours of a 15-hour trip. Shreveport to Tampa, with a short night's rest in Loxley, Ala., just outside of Mobile.

I was finally home. And away from home.

For the most part, I had no idea what I was getting into. I was taking a chance on a great, though struggling newspaper that was taking a chance on me. I'd never lived as much as eight hours away from my hometown of Houston, let alone the Eastern time zone. But at first glance, Tampa seemed like my sort of place - balmy winters, fresh seafood, Gulf breezes, and lots of folks.

Nothing has changed that initial impression.

But the change in my life has come about in other, more substantive and interesting ways than I could have envisioned (isn't that the way it always happens?): I came to think of a life without journalism; I could not think of a life without the First Lady; I found out I could appreciate living someplace other than Texas or California; Key West exceeded all my expectations, which were already very high; Miami, too; I added some reggae and dancehall to my iTunes; I turned 30; I missed my family and friends more than ever; I studied more in four months than I did in four and a half years of college; I helped turn a swing state blue; I pretty much stopped watching SportsCenter; I got frustrated enough with not having an outlet for my random thoughts; I started a blog; I saw the alligator resting near our pond only a couple times but never saw a feral pig; I visited the top-floor of the Sears Tower and had an authentic, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza; I made some new friends; I played pick-up hoops once - all year; I bench-pressed 300 pounds for the first time since I was 20; I didn't spend nearly enough time at the beach; I met the dwarf from "Bad Santa" on the top floor of the Shreveport Hilton; I wished I'd had a camera; I started a Facebook profile - who knew I had 321 friends?; I stopped taking out the garbage in the evenings after an uncomfortable showdown with three raccoons; an angry reader called me a "brownie"; I spent countless hours sitting in the living room with my patio door open; I wrote, maybe, five stories that I was proud of; I paid off my car note; I paid more than $400 in gas for a couple months; I was a full-time dog owner for the first time in my life; I wrote a really long blog post about my year in Tampa.

And here we are. I'm six months from turning 31. I'm engaged with a wedding in the works for next summer. And I'm thinking long and hard about whether I have a future in newspapers. Plan B is slowly but surely taking shape.

The next year will have quite an act to follow.

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