But I decided way back then that those phrases were a cop-out, and if it was really such a big deal they should at least take shot at describing it. I vowed never to use such a cop-out myself, should the occasion arise.
So now I’m retiring from The Press after the richest, most fulfilling 14 years of my professional life, and the words, like they did for those tongue-tied celebrities, are indeed falling short. But I promised I’d give it a shot.
So I’m going with Brobdingnagian. Fans of the TV show “Big Bang Theory” might recognize the term that refers to Brobdingnag, the land of giants to which Gulliver travelled in 1703. It’s used to describe something of immense size, virtually unmeasureable in scope, and it’s really the only word that works here.
Because that’s how it feels. The honor, appreciation and the emotion associated with both my time at The Press and with my leaving, are absolutely Brobdingnagian. There’s no way to fit it all into a single goodbye column.
I remember stepping on stage at the start of the 2000 Brentwood CornFest. The emcee introduced me as the editor of the new Brentwood Press, then about eight months old, and asked the crowd if they were getting, and did they like, the new paper. There were a couple hundred people on hand, and it seemed every one of them erupted in cheers and applause – it was the first time I allowed myself to think, “Wow! I think we might really have something here …”
Since then, it seems it’s been one long series of affirmations that The Press was a good thing. There have been more than 1,800 newspapers, thousands of articles, and tens of thousands of people I’ve met along the way, and uncountable one-of-a-kind opportunities it has afforded me (a week in Marine Corps basic training and the chance to be voluntarily zapped by a Taser are some of the more exhilarating examples). It would be impossible to list all that has been good about my experience here, or how it has all helped me grow personally and professionally. Likewise, the people who have made the journey with me, and made it so satisfying, are too numerous to include individually.
But there are some who need a mention. There’s CEO and President Jimmy Chamoures, whose trust and friendship have been provided in virtually endless quantity. His willingness to allow me to focus on achievement and everyday people is why those people at the 2000 CornFest had a chance to cheer, and that will never be forgotten.
There’s also Greg Robinson, Jimmy’s right hand man. Jimmy might have owned the bus and kept it running, but Greg had the chore of keeping the wheels turning on a day-in, day-out basis. The day I told Jimmy that making Greg the publisher was a good idea is the day I was able to push operations out of my mind and just deal with words and pictures. Like Jimmy, Greg has become one of my closest friends over the years, and his contribution to where I am and where I’m going can’t be overstated.
And there’s Ruth Roberts, my dear friend and collaborator who will take over for me. It almost seems strange to think of her as a co-worker, probably because she is so much more to me than that. Fortunately, the address listed on our paycheck was only a small part of what we’ve shared, and there will undoubtedly be more to share in the future.
And thus commences the slippery slope of mentioning some people and leaving out others. It will have to suffice to say that the countless people who have worked at The Press have all had a hand in what it, and I, have become. The people I leave behind, from the editorial staff to the sales and administration crew to the production team to the distribution folks, will hopefully know what they’ve meant to me, and that they will always be part of me no matter where I go or what I do.
But most of all, it’s you, the readers, I can’t ever thank properly. You have been so warm in welcoming me into your lives, and allowing me to share them through the Press, that I am literally weak at the knees just thinking about it. If there’s any one factor to credit for what The Press has been and done over the last 14 years, it’s you. Please keep it up – The Press is for you and about you, and I thank you all for making it what it is.
Pretty soon I’ll get back to thinking about the wide-open future, and spending it with my wonderful family. Their love and support have not only helped me survive, but to thrive. They know how I feel, but I’m delighted that now I’ll have time to show them a lot more often.
For a while, though, I think I’ll take it slow, get teary-eyed a lot and keep choking back that lump in my throat. Thank you for the 14 years, everyone. It’s been Brobdingnagian.