Nine years is a long time.
If I make it to the end of this month, it will mark nine years since I joined Consolidated Publishing, as Sports Editor of The Daily Home. I’d spent my first two years out of Tuscaloosa in the Heart of Georgia, and coming back to the state that raised me was both exhilarating and terrifying.
That was nine years ago this July.
A lot can happen in nine years. A man can get married, buy a house, sell that house and buy another. He can adopt a new hometown, learn a great deal about its peculiarities and prominent citizens, and still never really feel like he’s “at home,” if only because most of his life is spent on the road.
In nine years, a man can find out what it’s like to cover a race at Talladega and a municipal election in the same week. He can mangle his leg in the weirdest way possible, then have Jeff Gordon (of all people) give him grief for it during a press event. He can continue telling the story without irony, regardless of how many people tire of hearing it.
Nine years is a long time. Nine years is enough time to develop a negative association with a great many places. Periodically I find myself driving around the area, passing by places and thinking, “I remember going down there because of (some terrible tragic event).”
Nine years is enough time to feel a political shift, to realize that both major political parties — at the state and local level — are filled with disingenuous frauds, and people who are more committed to bettering their office than they are to helping people. Saying things like this in public will make people call you a “liberal,” which is probably a slur of some sort. Whatever.
That isn’t the whole story, of course – the whole story isn’t written just yet. In nine years, I have accrued a great many stories from a great many folks, most of them the types of stories that are uplifting, and make a person proud to call a place “home,” even if it’s still weird (because of the traveling).
The nine years represents a great deal of miles, not to mention a great deal of words. People periodically ask me about “your favorite story,” and the best answer is that there is no answer — everything just blends into a giant meld of words, people and more words.
Not so long ago, I was attempting to relate one of those stories to my wife — who is patient enough to hear them all, no matter how droll — and she listened to a few lines of it, before she finally stopped me.
“Do you really want to give all that up?” she asked. “Aren’t you going to miss those stories?”
And the answer is, of course. But I am thankful for those stories I didn’t miss, in nearly nine years of working here.
It’s a long time. It feels like it hasn’t been long enough, though.
Contact Will Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org. For a few more days, anyway.