Taking a new step

I imagine life as a singled traveled path that could lead to anywhere. There are so many ways to go, so many turns. You could live forever and never take the same road twice. Taking a hard look back, you have to wonder where else it may have taken you. All you know for sure though is where you are.

I canít honestly say Iíve lived life with a great sense of scope, not beyond a few years anyway. If you laid out the map of all the decisions Iíve made and traced each step to where I stand, the footprints would seem to wonder erratically across the page.

Itís easy enough for one to wonder why they hadnít taken a more direct path or focused on a specific destination. But thatís not how it works, really.

Life has always just seemed more like the management of a series of predictable and unpredictable challenges. Making choices with a blueprint in mind is a good idea, but we still have to paint it one stroke at a time.

It was one of these fortunate strokes of life that brought me to apply for a job at The Evening Sun in August of 2006.

Come the end of May, my time here at the newspaper will be over. After five years, Iíve decided to give notice and move to Albany. There are a lot of reasons, really, but mostly Iím going to see about a girl.

Iím not sure how many people know this about me, but in the first semester of 2004 at SUNY Oneonta, after two an a half years of political science, I was forced to wash out of school without my degree. My decision to leave was more about fiscal realities than it was about academics, but Iíd be lying if I said I was a stellar student. Though my grades were satisfactory enough, the pending college loans demanded ongoing payment while I attended school. Being a young guy juggling about thirty real life responsibilities Iíve never had before and fighting the constant urge to over indulge in my expensive adolescence, I decided I should step back. I imagine the footprints on the map of my life chaotically jerking into an unknown direction.

About this period of time my life hit ďrock bottom,Ē as they say, though Iíd rather compare it to a stone skipping over the surface of the water. There are low points, but weíre still above the water. After college I fell off the grid for a short time, lived with friends, even out of my car. I got injured and my uninsured medical debts and college loans combined into a fearsome credit monster. Iíve always lacked a support structure and had to find my own way.

Eventually I landed the first gas station job in Norwich I could get. I worked it for about six months until I got a better one as a temporary worker at the now-Norwich Pharmaceuticals, formerly OSG plant. In another six months, I found myself hired into the plantís work force full time. I drove fork trucks, took chemical samples in a lab, lost my sanity sitting on an assembly line and learned a lot.

I recalling reporting for an Evening Sun interview immediately after getting out of work and to this day Iím pretty sure my main selling points may have involved a few geeky similarities with my Editor Jeff Genung, such as my keen knowledge of Spider-Man comic books and a childhood obsession with Star Trek.

Though my writing talents were tested enough a few days later when one of my first responsibilities had me covering the appeal of a convicted murderer. I believe Jeff described me once as ďthe Forrest Gump of crimeĒ at one point. Just by chance, my tenure at the paper has seen a rare number of murders and other serious crimes not typically found in our small town.

The infinite value of my time here I couldnít describe in a book, let alone offer it justice in a sentence or two. I will always be thankful to Jeff and our publisher Dick Snyder for everything theyíve allowed me to learn.

A long road later, I find myself with this strange feeling of self improvement. My debts are greatly diminished, nearly gone. The long road of higher education long closed by an avalanche of poor financial decisions in my younger days seems to be lifting. My heart has wandered into the reach of someone I love. The job continues to be as interesting as the day I started, though sometimes Iím not sure where to go from here. So I sent out the job applications and Iím looking into many of the areaís schools. Law school appeals to me, but not the idea of diving back into debt.

As with the steps that found their way into my current life, Iím taking the next one at a time. I have many decisions to make, goals to achieve and random life to navigate.

I will miss this place.

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