Never say never.
Nearly a year ago, this reporter said he'd unlikely ever again show his face in a newsroom. That it would have to be the right situation, one free of Corporate Overlords that squeeze and squeeze and squeeze the help, then let them go in mass layoffs while they themselves take obscene bonuses.
OK, yeah, well, I found that one good situation.
Sorta by accident.
Yes, I said I was re-igniting the sabbatical after "convincing" Crazy Train, the roommate from Hell, to leave the premises. Yes, that time off work would have taken me to March 2011, completely depleting pop's "Do Something That's You With My Money" slush fund.
But things happen.
I was cruising a journalism website (hey, I'm a journalist, it is what I know, what I'm good at - what I wanted to do since before third grade) and read an ad that kind of sounded like it was written just for me:
"Good newspaper seeks creative writer/editor who isn't afraid to roll up their sleeves and take it to the next level, mentoring a young, talented staff in an outdoors wonderland. We like to have fun around here and we also give our reporters the freedom to find their own voice."
I applied, basically.
The next day, I got an email from the owner (it's a husband/wife operation) saying that out of more than 80 applicants, I'd made the list of eight finalists.
"Please give us more information on why you'd be best fit for our editor position and please include supporting clips and writing samples."
OK, I had fun with the letter. I told of my first foray into community journalism, as a 20-year-old who had just completed his sophomore year in college. That the interview took place in a strip joint. That I was told by my professors that the publisher needed a flunky for the summer, then being informed - with half-naked dancers twirling about me - that the publisher needed an editor for the summer.
I made the final four. Two telephone interviews, conversations with both owners.
I made the Big Dance. It was down to me and a guy who won a Pulitzer Prize at an Upper Midwest newspaper and now was an adjunct professor.
We both would make the trek to Wyoming for face-to-face interviews.
I chose to approach the interview like I always do - I've got a good gig, but keep an open mind and listen to the gut and the heart. I toured the community, met with the publisher. Met the staff. Drove around in the mountains. Had dinner with the owners.
One red flag. One conversation with the owner. Another dinner, where the red flag was put to rest. Drinks with the publisher.
The whispers of "If offered, take it" began to build.
In offering the position, the owner said two things:
"You fit in this community, in this newsroom. Never once did this feel like an interview, just friends getting together."
"I've not met another person who is so comfortable in his own skin."
Fifteen days from when this posts, I will watch my belongings loaded into a moving truck. I will take one last, long walk in the city - probably drink some bourbon and eat a fine meal - put Trinity into the back of my 4Runner (thanks, HeidiHo, for bringing it back to the East Coast) and drive some 1,700 miles to Buffalo, Wyoming.
I start work on Sept. 1.
Recently I was talking with a NYC friend (of course, as I'm leaving I've formed friendships with some incredible people) and she said, "Gosh, you've had so many lives."
That's a complement, and I'll take it.
Ever since this time-out, this sabbatical, was about doing something for my father that was really about me.
"Be the fearless kid you used to be," he said.
In NYC, the scabs from several years of wounds and woes fell off. I've reflected on this life and feel good about the many lives I've led.
Now, another new adventure awaits in Wyoming.
Whether roots begin to form or in a few years I take off for another life, well, that's yet to be seen.
But I'm now - and forever - willing to step off the curb and see where my heart and gut take me next.