Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Behind the Microphone Afterlife

Sometimes we figure out we aren't alone. Sometimes we figure out what we've been thinking for years is what someone else thinks right along with us.

I went to dinner with my friend, Linda Mares whom I reported with in Abilene. She left to move on and went to a few different places before being a reporter in Oklahoma City. At the table sat two other former reporters. Upon talking we realized we had all left the news business. I have talked before about us jumping ship... it all comes full circle back to my Dad asking me when I began that journey who at my station was age 35? Somewhere in the middle of it when you realize you don't want to climb the ladder to CNN because it is ridiculous... you jump off. I thought I was pretty alone in some of my thinkings about this journey... I was wrong.

Linda asked us if we ever watch the news. We all said NO together. Now, in Dallas I have four good friends on the news. I only know this because they tell me. I have seen them only once or twice on air. Why? Because as reporters we critique and we don't just watch for the news. We are watching for the story and seeing the mistakes. Now, the people that made it here to Dallas have that drive. But, what they don't have are families and I want that one day. They are darn good reporters and amazing people and they have worked very hard. Melissa did the ladder by leaving the state and finally finding her ground here. Jane had to go from Texas to Denver back to Texas. Desmond had to be let go by Tyler before they could see his potential in a huge market like Dallas. Kim kicked butt in every single small town to San Antonio to Dallas to make it up that ladder.

I realized in Tyler the next step had to be out of state because I wasn't ready for the big markets yet. We all have to climb that ladder. You think you go from Abilene to Dallas? Um no. It hit me that I was tired of running. I wanted to have holidays with my family and I wanted to be closer to my friends. I had no money saved and I was missing wedding after wedding and lifetime events... It was a losing battle. Working sixty hours a week... I wanted the life I knew as a child. Granted... this life is not as exciting and I'm not in the spotlight.

We all talked about what we missed. We all said the people and the stories and the camera. Of course. It gave me a sense of purpose that people actually cared about my story that day. I thought it was neat to sign an autograph... I mean, seriously? It was so much fun... but, it wasn't real. It was a little girl just chasing these dreams. We talked about getting out of the business and staring into the world and just not having any clue here in our late 20s what the heck we were doing with our lives. We are all scared to death. We are trained to report. Our hearts want us to report and our hearts want us to write, but unless your face is on a top ten market in the US then our heads cannot wrap around the math of it all. Unless we make it to the top of the ladder we are planted financially and socially in a sense.

It was like therapy to know I am not the only one. I miss it. Of course. I loved so much of that life. I also remember knowing maybe it was time to move on. I chose this. I was strong enough to move to Dallas not knowing my future and I chose it. I did it. I am proud of myself. We all are proud of our decisions and of the friends we have made and of our journey... but, it is all still very scary. You take a huge part of your heart and put it on the table. You stare at it waiting for it to beat because you have no idea how it will live now that you are changing its valves.

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