I’ve only written one farewell column. That was in Denver when I left the Rocky Mountain News to move here. It was a tough one because as much as I wanted to live here, I didn’t want to leave Colorado.
Life seems to be like that — to get one thing, often as not, you have to give up another. And so it is with me. As I write this, I am on deadline for two columns, a news story and a feature. In between it all, I must try to find a home for my memoir and finish edits on my latest novel. Something’s gotta go.
But no, I’m not saying goodbye. Not exactly.
I started this column in February 2014, which means I’ve written roughly 130 columns.
I loved doing it. It was a way of sharing what was going on in my life, in other people’s lives and sometimes a take on something newsworthy.
I wrote about loss — of all kinds: the loss of my brother, the vandalized destruction of the Duckbill rock, and the sudden, unexpected loss of my dog Mugsy, leaving me utterly grief stricken. For the first time since 1984 we were without a four-legged kid. Some of you will remember, however, the story that followed, of Luna, the Papillion who a month later moved in to rule her newly acquired kingdom. And more recently, Monkey, an 18-pound (who should be 14 pounds) Shih Tzu mix who has the appetite of a sumo wrestler and snores so loud a caller asked if someone was running a weed whacker.
I wrote about travel. There was our recent trip to Chicago, which I loved even though it did almost make New York seem cheap. And SoCal, which I’ve decided is really kind of soulless, and the ill-fated trip on Amtrak that left us stranded in Portland with no hope of making La Conner where I was scheduled to be a guest of Nancy Pearl.
I wrote about the things that make me smile — the Christmas cards handwritten on the lap desk my mom bought me decades ago, and my collection of refrigerator magnets dating back to at least 1991-ish. I packed them away last year thinking I owed it to my new shiny fridge, which is quite handsome, albeit no match for those colorful magnets, which remain stashed in a storage container for the day I come to my senses.
While I often wrote about myself, I also interviewed others, usually a good experience, with the exception of the author who responded to my emailed questions with, “MAY I BE SO BOLD AS TO SUGGEST YOU LOOK AT MY WEBSITE.” Apparently, it never occurred to him that not everyone wants to write a cookie-cutter piece from stock answers on a FAQ page. Had the column not been for a good cause and a woman I adore, I would have jettisoned it that instant.
The most memorable (and almost eerie) moment was a note from a man I’d never met. I had written about my Rolodexes, which I acknowledged make me something of a relic, but which hold memories of moments from decades ago. One of the cards I mentioned belonged to a travel writer I’d met only once, but with whom I expected to remain in touch. Not long after we met, I learned he’d died on trip out of the country. Days after the column ran, I received a note from a man named Matt wondering if that writer was Nick G? It was, indeed. Matt was his brother. He’d read my column and hoped we might get together if I ever came to Newport. I, of course, live in Newport. Consider: I met Nick in the San Juan Islands more than a decade ago, chose his card out of scores spread over at least four card files spanning three decades, and his brother just happens to read my column and live in the same town I do. Still boggles my mind.
So yes, it’s been a memorable five years, of laughter and tears and the occasional deadline crunch when I had no idea what I was going to write, but somehow came up with something.
And no, I am not saying goodbye, but rather good night. I’m going to put the column to bed for now and devote my extra (as if) time to finding a home for the memoir and finishing the next novel.
When the alarm clock sounds, you’ll be the first to know.
Lori Tobias is the author of the novel “Wander” and a journalist of many years. Follow her at loritobias.com.