The past year has brought about great change in my life. Great, in this case does not just mean “significant” but also fabulous, wonderful or awesome. For starters, 2008 was my first full calendar year living far away from family. It may not seem like a big deal — certainly not to me — but it really is. Up until the age of 30, mom and dad were always just a short drive away (with the exception of a three-month stint in Wisconsin after college). Even though no emergency ever came up, it always provided a certain comfort knowing they were there, not to mention there was always a free meal to be had in the name of familial togetherness. Talking to them on the phone is fine and probably something I need to do more regularly, but it’s just not the same as being physically close.
Speaking of full calendar years, 2007 was also my first as editor of the Sparks Tribune. It was a good feeling when events like the Rib Cook-Off, Star Spangled Sparks and Hometowne Christmas came around and I could refer to my coverage last year and at least try to do things a little differently. It was also very satisfying this year to go through issues of the Tribune and see the improvements in the short time since becoming editor. Did I mention the reason for going through all those old issues was to enter them in the Nevada Press Association annual contest and that 16 of our entries received awards? Not to toot our own horn, but here goes anyway: TOOT! The point is that it’s been a good year for the Tribune, at least from the editorial side. The paper looks better and reads better and everyone in our drab, sad little newsroom has done a damn good job. Even me.
Of course, people who read my column (whether it is for pleasure or disgust) know that the other significant change in my life was personal. Ending my marriage after seven years wasn’t exactly on my list of resolutions for the year, but since it happened the aftereffects can provide fodder for looking ahead to 2009.
It is cliché to do, but after splitting up it suddenly seemed like a good idea to join a gym. Not for the purpose of watching attractive women sweat (it’s a perk, I admit, but most of the ladies at Fitness For 10 in Sparks are past retirement age), but because it was a symbol of newfound freedom. Spending an hour several days a week working out was suddenly an option that wasn’t there before. Plus, the clanking of weights and grunts of exertion have always been comforting to me. As a young kid, I spent many hours at the gym with my mom when she was caught up in the Pumping Iron craze inspired by Arnie Schwarzenegger and his bulging Austrian pecs. My own mom even got up on stage a few times for regional bodybuilding competitions, and the same scrapbook pages that have pictures of me as an awkward 5-year-old have photos of her in a bikini showing off her muscles up on stage. She never won much of anything, but the love of the burn is something she passed on to me and something I never had the chance to indulge in during my marriage. It’s good to go back and a few inches have even dropped off my waist. Needless to say, in 2009 there is no need to resolve to join a gym but just to keep going. That shouldn’t be a problem.
Joining the gym is just the first step in my overall New Year’s resolution. The key concept is freedom, a concept that I need to explore in 2009. Relationships have many wonderful aspects, but there is also always compromise. When you’re by yourself, there is no need to compromise. Want to go on a crazy vacation to Mexico? Go for it. Want to quit your job and go back to college? If it’s a mistake, nobody gets hurt except yourself. Want to buy camera equipment you can’t afford in an effort to become the world’s greatest photographer? Hey, it’s your money. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.
The point is life sometimes hands us opportunities and when it does, we better take advantage of them because they don’t come around often. My resolution for 2009 is to take those opportunities out for a drive, even if it’s over a cliff. My other resolution is to not write about the missed opportunities of my past and instead focus on the road ahead. Not doubt it will make my bosses happy to not read about my divorce any more.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to answer the door. Opportunity is knocking.
Nathan Orme is the editor of the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.