Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Superstars in the making...

OK, well, not really. But, still, our episode of HGTV's "Designed to Sell," which aired last night, was good. We were pleased with how it came out and laughed quite a bit. If you missed it, I believe it's running again on November 12, so check your local listings and mark your calendars!

Otherwise, I visited my old haunt, Springfield, Mo., this weekend for two friends' wedding (marrying each other--I teased them that they owe me for moving out and getting "out of their way" so they could get married). It was good to see them, even though I was there for about 24 hours only. I did, however, realize I had never really looked at the housing stock out there before. Probably because I lived there right out of college and wasn't really in the market for a house 10 hours away from Chicago, the center of my universe, pretty much.

But this time, while driving around town, I peeked at some houses, and didn't realize how many very pretty arts & crafts and California-style bungalows they had. Some really pretty Victorians too. I was surprised, and then somewhat bummed, particularly knowing that these houses probably were a "bargain" compared to what we pay for housing in Chicago.

It got me somewhat nostalgic and marginally saddened that things didn't work out for me down there--that my situation, in a sense, at the time, gave Springfield the shaft of sorts. I tell Gina all the time that, really, Springfield is a very nice place to live, with lots of benefits, particularly if you have a family. But, because I viewed it as temporary from the get-go, didn't make many friends or get involved in anything substantial, didn't have any relatives, and worked the night and weekend shifts at the paper, the city didn't get a fully square deal from me--even though I was able to see the promise there. Yeah, there were negatives, but the positives outweighed them a little more.

In fact, I spoke with my former supervisor at the paper, and we were talking about how Springfield was "growing up," and I said I had a good time, and it was well worth it. And she commented that even though I might not have viewed it as progress personally for myself, it was progress professionally. That's very true...and it got me to thinking that, really, personally, it was progress as well.

I'll always have a tie to Springfield, emotionally. Why? Well, it's where I spent the most formative year of my adult life thus far, really. I was on my own for the first REAL time ever, with only the phone to reach out and get help from family. I had to figure things out for myself, stand up for myself, become responsible and grow up really fast. I had to learn that, regardless, work was different than anything I'd ever been involved with, and that I was now a "working man" who had to hold that job down or face the consequences. I also had to learn, very quickly, that the world wasn't going to bend over backward to help me, no matter what happened in the past. I had to fend for myself, make my own choices and transform myself into an adult.

Springfield, people said, would be a culture shock for me, the northern big-city Chicagoan. They were right: It was a culture shock...but more so a shock to my personal systemic culture than to the big-city persona I exuded.

Thank God I'm a fast learner. But part of me will always miss Springfield and will always wonder what might have happened had I not sent out those unsolicited emails asking for jobs with the three Chicago newspapers, or had one of those papers responded and subsequently brought me home. It's amazing the difference one instance (a "Choose Your Own Adventure" style of decision, for example) can make on an eternity.

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