Thursday, February 12, 2015

A moving target

I've  been waxing nostalgic the past couple of days. Milestones do that to me. And I suppose this is a milestone. 

Writing about them is a challenge, though. The biggest obstacle is my faulty memory. I want to tell the story, but I lack the details.  And when I try to focus on just a few highlights ... there are too many. Where would I begin or end?

For once, can I just express it in broad terms??? 

When The Oklahoma Publishing Company moved from its historic abode at NW 4 and Broadway to a grand campus at 9000 N Broadway in 1991, I'm sure I thought that's where The Oklahoman  would be based for at least the rest of my career, if not my lifetime.  

But a mere 24 years later, the publisher of the state's largest daily newspaper is returning to downtown Oklahoma City. 

I remember that I didn't want to leave downtown -- and not just because the new office was seven miles farther from my Norman home. I knew we would miss being able to walk from the office  to restaurants and the post office and parks and the Festival of the Arts and other downtown cultural offerings. But the new building, while within walking distance of nothing,  was big and spacious and well-appointed (except for that carpet). It had walls of windows!! Even though the 12-story building's outward appearance was a dark tower, inside it was bright and offered great views in all directions -- especially impressive on stormy Oklahoma days, but also on sunny and partly cloudy days. 

So many things have changed. I was right at 32 years old, just about 10 years into my career.  But I had already weathered (survived) layoffs and the shuttering of the company's afternoon paper. I'd said good-bye to great colleagues and friends who went on to jobs in other places or fields. In fact, I'd experienced the grief that comes from knowing at least two colleagues had taken their own lives. I'd actually spent six weeks away getting some of my own issues resolved. But I believed in journalism and the viability of the industry and career. 

The struggles of the news business didn't stop with E.L. Gaylord's grand move to the beautiful new building and grounds. But there sure were some good times and opportunities to be involved in outstanding journalism. 

I'm excited that The Oklahoman and its NewsOK online component are making the move back downtown, and I'm grateful that I'm on board. So many good former colleagues are not. 

But I do feel nostalgic for this place we are leaving. As faulty as my memory is, I still hold treasured thoughts and images of people and experiences inside these walls. Am I more likely to forget once we move? Who even knows what priceless mementos were tossed in the cleaning that is essential with a move? But I also know that if such "treasures" aren't kept in an organized system, they might as well be tossed. 

I thought there would be a little more fanfare with the move, maybe a picture of the group that made the move north and now is returning downtown. Instead, it seems as if no one is even looking back. And  I guess I can understand why that's probably the preference of management. 

Looking back is important to me. It's why I'm in this business, even though I don't chronicle things as well as I did in the past. But I can't stop trying. I likely will revisit this topic, trying to recall more of the highlights worth remembering. 

That won't stop me from stepping boldly into the new. One more day, and then I'm ready!!! 

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