Don Rogers: Time stops on purpose
Three years. Boom. Wentlikethat.
I only knew from Linkedin, further evidence of the great disruption in all our lives. Friends from Colorado lit up my email connection to the site with congratulations. Three years is just long enough for nostalgia, it turns out.
Take May 2, 2016, a day not of infamy but trepidation. I remember walking in the front door of The Union to a new paper, new staff, new community after the better part of 17 years in mountain town Colorado. Long enough to mostly raise the kids, get to know people, get the feel of a place, you know? That meant something after a career spanning both coasts and seven newsrooms in the previous 10 years.
Deep breath before stepping in. I felt butterflies I didn’t realize could still flit. What had possessed me to do this anyway?
Let’s see, ticking off by the finger: Out of the snow, closer to the ocean, close to grandkids to come, beautiful area we liked to visit, gardening, cool and quirky community. Hmmm. My wife’s reasons.
Mine? Her. And oh sure, the kids, their kids, college friends, a new challenge, different news operation, what I’d learn, the adventure, still near ski hills and plenty of trails. But her, really.
“Don’t do this just for me,” she warned. “You have to want it, too.” Women. She’s happy, I’m happy. It’s not complicated.
I didn’t say this out loud, of course. Three decades of marriage. You learn a couple of things.
Meantime, she and our daughter took a quick road trip to see if the Grass Valley/Nevada City we loved to visit felt right as a place to live.
First a parking spot opened magically on Broad Street in front of the Classic Café. They didn’t know yet how hard it can be to find parking in Nevada City. Then the shiny coin my wife picked up when they got out. Soon they realized this was the cafe with scenes in that cheesy Christmas movie, which of course they had watched again.
And on and on, including the perfect happy hour at Friar Tucks, everyone a friend. All retold when they got back with twin twinkles in their eyes.
I could say no to that?
Last-minute jitters aside, I’m the aloha spirit in the family, quick to get in the flow whether Honolulu or upstate New York. The job helps. But I’ve always engaged readily, and discovered with this offer I had remained a sucker for new experiences, fresh beginnings, all that.
Of course the road between then and now proved neither so smooth nor straight as we had imagined — laying plans and God’s wicked sense of humor.
But here we are now, three years in, two grandsons, a brew pub where the press once ran, and more than a year in with the Sierra Sun under my wing. I get my mountain town fix a couple of days a week, snowboarding early mornings. Some things don’t change, including seeing no more of the ocean than when we lived in Colorado. Have to work on that.
I’m typed in my company’s personality profiling as not seeing “staff,” but family, even if they don’t know it. I’m not particularly demonstrative that way, a flaw for sure. But I love them as I did our crew in Vail, and they mesh with each other like I’ve never seen a newspaper staff, like their cause really is holy. It certainly ain’t easy.
Oddly, I worried less about the work and my family than leaving my writing group in Colorado. No way that could be replicated. But I was wrong, deeply wrong. I had no clue at all of the rich literary community I’d find here, gold.
Somewhere in all this newness and discovery, I’ve quietly exceeded the tenure of each of my past two predecessors, Jim Hemig and Dave Schmall, shout outs to both. I told Jeff Ackerman just this week only seven more years to catch up to him, in years if not notoriety or individual impact. I aspire to leave no fingerprints vs. inspiring bumper stickers. Each approach has its pros and cons.
I do think community news gets taken for granted in this increasingly digital era in which not just newspapers but local news media generally might have their audiences, but not the business they once commanded. The clock is running hard now, with a thousand of the 7,000 newspapers in this country a dozen years ago now gone, along with half the journalists.
And still I love it, know our service and our hearts to be true, pulled perhaps like another Don to these windmills, grateful for this career, this life, a moth, never bored.
Time stops when caught up like this, and flies past, too, a gift when prompted to think about it. So thank you.
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.