Back in the Saddle Again


You probably don’t remember me, but I’ve been here before. Like so many before me, I’ve passed through these hallowed walls, the memory of my presence reverberating among the brick and mortar that holds this building together. When I left, I walked away feeling proud of what I accomplished here but unsure of whether I had put in enough work to consider myself a true reporter. Where have I been, you ask (I know you didn’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway)? It’s a tale of boring intrigue and lackluster mystery to which I will subject you, if only for my own personal gratification.

I’ve done many things since I last was here. I tried my hand at serving a less reputable and well-established publication such as this. I was a student (mediocre at best and inclined toward extracurricular activities for which you don’t receive credit). I was a teacher of children for a time (okay, I was a substitute – you try it – your children are… not as great as you think they are). I was a door-to-door salesman of frozen food/delivery truck driver. I was a hired hand, helping to maintain the properties of people who will likely have more than I ever will, my mild jealousy masked by the jaded feelings of a person who has lived in “the real world.” Lastly, I took a job as a dishwasher in a kitchen and worked my way around the line until I more or less knew how to run it, then I tried my hand at trying to help manage it for a couple years (shout out to my Little Traverse Inn family).

I’ve seen many sights since I last was here. I’ve observed the Rocky Mountains from a high enough perch to appreciate their scale and my lack thereof. I’ve stood close enough to the edge of the Grand Canyon to respect its depth and my proclivity toward gravity. I’ve stood under arches of sandstone in Utah, gazing up in awe of the changes affected through nothing more than time and weather patterns. I’ve stood at the shores of the west coast and looked on as the sun extinguished itself in the ocean as only the most successful pioneers must have done, while a cesspool of culture and industry churned at my back, ignorant of and uncaring about my presence. I wandered the landscape of the Big Island of Hawaii, marveling as my flip-flopped feet grazed the unforgiving volcanic rock at how quickly such a great mass of land can be created in the grand scheme of things and how short life is in comparison. But perhaps most importantly, I’ve wandered back home, wondering how I will afford to support myself once I get there.

I’ve seen how intoxicating simple emotions can be. How just the smallest taste of love can gradually but steadily lead a person astray from the path toward their dreams and aspirations. How fear and uncertainty can dig a hole under and around you. How anger can steal your vision and apathy can allow you to remain blind. How happiness can exist in short enough doses to keep you tethered in place while your world falls away around you. But I’ve also seen how that same simple feeling of love can draw you forward; how it can drag you slowly but steadily out of whatever hole you’ve helped to dig around yourself until you find yourself on even ground. How those simple emotions which drove you downward can fill your sails and propel you forward toward a future you never expected but can’t wait to see.

And so here I find myself at the place where I began the misadventure of adulthood. The place that allowed me the opportunity to spread my wings and jump, regardless of whether I was capable of flight, and also put enough trust into my 20-year-old self to give me an opinion column. As innocuous as an opinion piece in a weekly publication may be in the grand scale, that is an enormous amount of freedom to offer someone who knows everything, as 20-year-olds are often wont to do. But now I return to you, clinging to the knowledge of that former self, its tattered visage ever reminding me that I know much less than I thought I did. I once thought I questioned everything, and now I’m beginning to believe that I really do. Perhaps I have the makings of a true reporter after all.


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