Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The last Chronicle column

What makes a woman -- who is not going into witness protection -- up and leave family and friends, a comfortable home and a newspaper career to move 1,200 miles away?
A husband whose lifelong dream has been to live among palm trees and palmetto bugs, that’s what.
You see, a few months ago, I dragged home from yet another day leading the charge to put out this newspaper to find my teacher-husband hunched over the computer, feverishly tapping on the keyboard with his two pointer fingers.
There were manila folders and stacks of paper everywhere. His reading glasses were perched on the end of his nose and I’m pretty sure he was sweating.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Sending out resumes to Florida,” he answered.
“We’re moving to Florida?”
“We can if I find a job down there. What do you think?”
What I thought was that our lifelong dream of moving to a tropical climate could actually turn out to be more than a dream.
And I also thought that it would give me an excuse to get out of the newspaper.
Putting out a 25,000-circulation daily newspaper is like riding a never-ending roller coaster. I would never voluntarily get off that roller coaster. It’s too much fun. But, at the same time, I always wished the thing would stop for just a minute so I could catch my breath.
And now, with the words, “moving to Florida,” I thought for the first time in my life, I could actually hear the sound of that roller coaster pulling into the station.
In recent years, there have been some things going on at the paper that told me it’s time to move on. Now I had the chance.
And, so, we were moving – or at least we were willing to move.
My husband sent out close to 100 resumes to Florida school districts that had teacher openings.
He never heard back from any of them … not even a “thanks but no thanks.” It’s as if he was filing those applications into a black hole.
And then he heard from St. Petersburg. He was one of a dozen prospects for one job. He went down for an interview. They hired him that very day.
And so, we really were moving.
Fast forward two months and here we are today. He has a job. I don’t. For the first time in 30 years, I not only don’t work at a newspaper, I don’t work anywhere.
Talk about a woman without a country.
I hope to get some writing work, hopefully on a magazine, and I plan to shop my column around down there.
But I just wanted to say how much fun it has been telling you stories every week in this column.
And I want to thank you for all the kind comments you have sent back to me about it and the stories of your own lives that you have shared with me.
I always thought that deep down we really are all a lot alike. Your reactions to this column proved that to be true.
I’ll keep writing online at pattiewald.blogspot.com.
I’m sure the skunks and other critters that have been terrorizing me in Ohio will get word to the wildlife in Florida that I’m on my way down.
Do you think beating with a broken broom handle on the top of the metal lid of a fire pit will scare away alligators in Florida the way it scared away birds of prey in Ohio?
Stay tuned.

Patti Ewald’s last day as managing editor of The Chronicle was Friday. You can always reach her at pagewald@hotmail.com. Please stay in touch.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I have always looked forward to Monday's paper to see what is going on in Patti's world, I hope you keep us updated here often. I always enjoy your column and have often felt like I could have wrote the same things about my life, it's as if you take words right out of my mouth and put them on paper!
I wish you well in Florida and look forward to your tropical stories.