It’s gotten the point that it doesn’t feel like yesterday.
I was in Petersburg with Simone Tiffany Crystal — my 1989 Toyota Camry — James Cecil Wheatley — my two-year-old plant — my futon from middle school, which served as a couch, LSW2 — my laptop from Christmas 2001 — and the bed I bought when I moved into the Delta Nu Chapter house in 2004.
I had no idea what to expect. At the time, I knew I was covering Dinwiddie County, Virginia State University and Richard Bland College. I had done no research into Dinwiddie. I blindly walked into a contentious Board of Supervisors meeting. A kid horrifically burned himself when he inadvertently poured gasoline on a fire. I lived in a city that, while I was there, was the “most dangerous” city in the state per capita, but never made the official list because its population was under 100,000.
I loved every second of it.
Until I increasingly disagreed with the new managing editor and became the managing editor of the paper down the road.
I had no idea what to expect. I had to hire a new sports editor, the publisher fired a reporter, I had to fire a reporter and we fought tooth and nail to restore the reputation of a publication that often was seen as a laughingstock.
I loved every second of it.
Until I felt like it was time for me to move on and a storm nearly destroyed the building and I stayed on because I didn’t want to leave them in the middle of a disaster and then headed to a copy editing position along North Carolina’s Crystal Coast.
I had no idea what to expect. I was hours away from everyone I knew and loved, made a nearly blind decision as far as housing, tried to balance a long-distance relationship and saw the writing on the wall when the company was bought out.
I did not enjoy that experience overall.
I then briefly returned to the paper I left before winding up here.
I won’t belabor modern history.
But this in less than two weeks, I’m moving away from the Richmond area, most likely for good.
That means that I’m also leaving where I began my journalism career, the Tri-Cities, most likely for good. I’m running out of reasons to go down there. Here’s what I said about that yesterday:
This pains me infinitely more than leaving Richmond. I learned how much I didn’t know during my time south of the James, and I had my biggest triumphs and failures there.
I love the Tri-Cities because it is a beautiful mess and because there are so many people working hard to remove “mess” from that phrase. It does not deserve the bad rep it sometimes gets. It’s a victim of so many things, including the state’s city-county divide, its own leaders at times and the changing face of commerce and industry in America.
Sure, I may rag on it and the contretemps of its governments, but you don’t get to unless you’ve lived there and worked there and rooted for it on its worst days. As recently as last month, I’ve driven to downtown Hopewell and made some of the rounds I made when I was an editor there.
I’ve half-seriously said I want to retire on some acres in Dinwiddie. Although I want my wife to go home to New York at some point, I hope at least a vacation place in that area is in the cards.
Here’s to a dozen years in journalism. And here’s to years to come.