On leaving Ohio, The Blade, and — as usual — video games

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Tired, dripping with sweat, and feeling somewhat vacuous, three thoughts entered my mind as Kyle, Rachel, and myself shut the storage container door. 

“I am paying a moving company next time we do this.”

“Where is all of this sweat coming from? Is this the residual sweat that stored inside me somehow, from years of non-exercise?”

The third thought was the most troubling, as is something that is on my mind even as I write now:

“I’m going to be unemployed in a week.”

Fun fact: I haven’t not had a job since I was 15. It was at that age that I decided I wanted to start earning my own way and have something to be proud of. My first job was as a soccer referee at the local county park. After that, I transitioned into working a thankless, horrible job as a Speedway clerk. After giving me two weeks notice for that job — on my way to Holzer and an orderly position I’d be at for almost eight years — I was fired on my last day of work by my petty manager.

That manager was later indicted for stealing money from the store, but that’s neither here nor there. The point being, I don’t know how to feel now that I am facing my final day of work at the Toledo Blade and the realm of uncertainty that comes along with being un-gainfully unemployed.

I don’t wish to linger or harp on the topic, as I know that one of the worst things in the world is listening to someone bring up the same thing over and over, which I have done plenty of. Each time a co-worker has asked me what my plans are in Austin, Texas, it inevitably comes up, like a nervous itch that demands a scratch.

Maybe I’m overly worried. I keep trying to tell myself that five years at a Pulitzer prize-winning newspaper and two years of a print byline at that newspaper is nothing to sneeze at, but it isn’t enough to cease the noises from that section of my brain that is constantly telling me that I’ll never be anything more than an assistant.

It’s a rubbish line of thinking, but that doesn’t mean it’s power over me is lessened any.

Instead, I’ve chosen to focus on the things, places, and people I’m leaving behind. Toledo has been a gracious home for the past five years; grown into a place where I feel exceptionally welcome and comfortable. This is a far cry from my state of mind five years ago, moving to a town I only visited a dozen or so times, to be with a girl I only knew a year, and into a job at The Blade that was a temporary, part-time position.

And yet, here we are with tearful goodbyes and lyrics from Barenaked Ladies The Old Apartment running through my head. That thought of where I started is what keeps me going. If I had told myself five years ago that I would have my own column in a newspaper, have been on the radio, gotten married, made so many wonderful acquaintances and friends, and was now moving to Texas?

I wouldn’t believe it, especially the Texas part. Maybe I still don’t. Maybe the day after we get unpacked in Austin I’m going to have a mental episode, pass out, and wake back up in Athens or Gallipolis, wondering why I let Jeremy Evans convince me that drinking “Ron Caribbean Authentic Jamaican Rum — bottled in Cleveland, Ohio” was a good idea.

Regardless, some things remain the same. I have Rachel, I have my friends and family, and the ever-blase attention of my two cats. I still have my gaming column in The Blade, and every reason in the world to retain positivity and hope that my days of writing aren’t ending, but just getting started.

I wish everyone that I’m leaving the best. I don’t feel like I’ve deserved any of your friendships, attention, respect, or time. I go forward in hopes that those very things continue to bolster me through rough waters and tumultuous storms that may await in the horizon.

Most of all, thanks for putting up with me. I can be a jerk, but everyone has to have a few in their lives. Keeps you honest.

Goodnight, and good luck.

end

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