Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Au revoir, Columbus

Tonight is my last night in Columbus. And tomorrow, June 2, is my final day as a full-time employee of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, although my column will continue to run in the Sunday Ledger-Enquirer on a freelance basis.

Starting D-Day, Monday, June 6, I will be the new Director of Communications for The Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, Ga. It's the organization Millard Fuller founded after he was squeezed out by the corporate culture that began to infiltrate Habitat for Humanity, the charitable organization he and wife Linda founded in the 1970s. The Fuller Center is sort of a Habitat Orthodox, if you will. It's focus is putting roofs over people's heads. It doesn't drown itself in rules, dogma or corporate pettiness. It's focus is on the simplicity of the mission itself. My job will be to help spread the word about what we do. The mission sells itself, especially once you see the work in action and the difference it makes.

I'm proud of the 14-plus years I've spent at the Ledger-Enquirer and the nearly 22 years I've spent in the newspaper business. Every day since 1989, I have been employed by one of four different newspapers, The Americus Times-Recorder, the Citizen and Georgian of Montezuma, the Valdosta Daily Times and the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. I feel extremely fortunate to have fallen in love with the cities of Americus, Valdosta and Columbus along the way.

I feel even more fortunate to be returning to Americus. I've always said tongue-in-cheek that Americus has more crazy people per capita than any city in the nation. I mean that in an endearing way. Folks are delightfully crazy in Americus. Sumter County also has character out the wazoo! From the Windsor to Monroe's Hot Dogs to Koinonia to Jimmy Carter and Plain to Pat's Place to Andersonville to Lake Blackshear to my buddy Paul's amazing restaurant, the Station ... well, there's just no place like it. If it were oceanside, it just might be perfect. Oh well, the ocean's not that far away.

Granted, there's much I'll miss about Columbus. The Riverwalk. Catching rising musical acts downtown. A few good friends. Journalists who strive to do great jobs despite the vitriolic negativity that seems to permeate this town and perhaps society itself. Though I'm hoping that's more a product of being in a business that seems to shed light on and bring out the worst in people.

At age 40, and less than three weeks from 41, it's time for a change. I'm looking forward to a new phase in my life. Looking forward to being closer to family and old friends. Looking forward to spending much more time with my son. Looking forward to seeing stars in the sky over the cabin in Englishville. Looking forward to the occasional Troyburger, though not too many. Looking forward to a new career. Looking forward to finally finishing that novel. And looking forward to embarking upon a new life with my beautiful sweetheart of a girlfriend.

So, I take my leave of this town thankful for the good times and the bad, and thankful for the many lessons I've learned. And I enter phase 2 of my life with hope, optimism and little restored idealism.

The future looks bright indeed.