Monday, March 11, 2013

RETURNING 'HOME'
San Angelo

Photo by TPG
Barbed wire and cacti: This prickly pair (har!) makes me smile. San Angelo's beauty doesn't reveal itself; you have to look for it. It's worth it.

Tonight, I flipped open my computer fully intending to write about my first trail race — last Saturday's Crazy Desert Trail Race in San Angelo. I had an outstanding time running the familiar trails of San Angelo State Park.

A fun, homecoming post about how great it was to return to the city and run a great race: That was the plan. But that post will have to wait because first I need to share a little history on how San Angelo became home.

I didn't grow up in San Angelo in the traditional meaning of the phrase. My formative years were spent in Garland; that's where I actually grew up. Then, in many ways, I delayed achieving adulthood during my college years at the University of Texas in Austin. But I did grow up (read: became an adult) —eventually — in San Angelo.

Truth be told, San Angelo wasn't my first choice (or third or 20th) for where I wanted to land straight out of college; but in the first months of 2002, there weren't a hell of a lot of good options for a young journalist. I spent the better part of four months unemployed in Austin — depressed that I had skills (good training through internships at a couple of papers and stints at the school paper) and no place to use them. I was choosy at first. I only really wanted to work at the Austin American-Statesman. I might have worked part-time there ... if I hadn't bombed the pre-employment editing test. Worst mistake: I nervously confused Mark David Chapman with Charles Whitman. Yikes!

When I realized that working at the Statesman wasn't ever going to happen, I started applying everywhere. And I mean everywhere. A few newspapers showed some interest. But only The Joplin (Mo.) Globe and the San Angelo Standard-Times invited me to visit their cities for interviews and subsequently extended formal offers of employment.

I won't bore you with all the details. Just some of them. There are more than three years of details. Way more years and details than I had anticipated. Highs and lows. But, what you must know is that I:

• Stopped smoking for good in San Angelo.
• Slipped into depression and drank way too much in San Angelo.
• Learned a lot about the newspaper industry and journalism in San Angelo.
• Started my path toward vegetarianism in San Angelo.
• Met some lifelong friends in San Angelo.
• Lost some friends in San Angelo.
• Got hooked on tattoos in San Angelo.
• Bought my first new car in San Angelo.
• Fell in love with mountain biking in San Angelo.
• Lost 50 pounds in San Angelo.

All of those details are what got me here. "Here" is a life that is packed with way more blessings than one person could ever hope for. It's a full life — one that's much more than just running, riding bikes and listening to music. It's a life in which I learn something new every day, do work that's fulfilling every day, improve who I am every day, thank God that I've found the love of my life every day, appreciate incredible friends and family every day, and much more.

It's a special place, all right. And this is a special life. It could have unfolded anywhere. But it didn't. It happened in a West Central Texas town that will be dear to me forever. I hope everyone finds his or her San Angelo.


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