By Trish Hoagland
The sound of my husband and his power tools gently pulled me from my thoughts. It was Saturday night and we’d pretty much finished moving. James was in the back, building shelves, and I was puttering around my office. The News had just made its 4th move, and this time, I led the charge.
“Twenty years from now you will be
more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
The experience was a harsh and humbling teacher. Settling into my chair, I looked out the window and noticed I could see into the back of the Dog Run. There was a gal sitting on a pool table, legs swinging, head thrown back in laughter. I grinned as I thought back to a couple conversations with my mom – one from the past and one very recent. Though our talks were decades apart, the similarities made me smile.
I could see my highly animated freckle-faced eighteen-year-old self sitting on the counter at my mom’s house, legs swinging excitedly as I explained my latest plan to her.
“Shelly Clifford and I are getting an apartment after graduation.”
“Really?” She smiled.
“All we need is 1st and last month’s rent plus $75 for the electric deposit. We have 3 months to save, Mom! It’s gonna be so awesome!” I declared with confidence.
“I’m excited for you, honey! Are you sure you’ve thought of everything?” She said.
“Ugh, Mom, of course!” And, with that, I headed to my room to plan.
Needless to say, I hadn’t thought of everything, and when Shelly Clifford and I moved into our first apartment three months later, we had no toilet paper, toothpaste or shampoo. Eating meant leftover pizza from my job at Pizza Hut; our cupboards were bare. Not that full cupboards would have done us any good; we didn’t have anything to eat off of. We quickly realized we’d grossly underestimated the whole ‘moving out’ thing, and Mom swooped in to fill the gaps.
A few months ago, still highly animated and freckle-faced, I sat with Mom in the very same kitchen I did when I was 18 and excitedly explained my latest plan to her.
“I found a new space for the newspaper Mom! It’s so much bigger. I can save us 40% on rent, and we’ve room to grow! We’ll have to pay triple the amount up front and…Mom…are you listening?”
“Yes dear,” she smiled knowingly.
“With the savings in rent, we’ll recoup the cost of the move in a couple months and start adding to the bottom line within three.” I declared with confidence.
“That’s exciting honey! Are you sure you’ve thought of everything?” She said.
“Ugh, Mom, of course!” And, with that, I sent in the lease application.
Again, it goes without saying, I hadn’t thought of everything. By the time we started moving our desks into the new office, I was literally thousands of dollars over budget. Did you know that the deposit for SRP Business account is $650, and it can cost more than $2,000 to move your phone system? I didn’t, and I grossly underestimated the cost to move a business. But, even thirty years later, Mom is filling in the gaps with that same unconditional, nonjudgmental smile.
The older, wiser me is writing everything down this go round, ‘The News Move 2019 – My List of F@*k Ups.’ I think Papa (The News founder Ed Barker) would appreciate that one. I smile at the thought of him, and hearing James Taylor singing ‘Sweet Baby James’ softly in the background nudges me into a memory of Ed dancing a giggling Mom around the kitchen and into the living room, her smile so big. I feel such immense gratitude for both of them, and it’s hard for me to translate the feeling to words.
They’ve let me fall a lot. I used to think it was cruel and unusual punishment, but the adult me understands why they stood at the edge of each one of my precipices with those silly grins on their faces. They knew exactly what was happening and that most of the time I’d be ok. And when I wasn’t, they were there at the bottom of those messy pits waiting to catch me. No judgement, no questions asked.
It was just after 2 a.m. when James and I left that night, and right before we walked out the door, he pulled me close and danced a happily exhausted me around our new office. My smile was so big.
Monday at the new office was filled with technical difficulties and challenges, and the day went by in a tangled blur. It was late afternoon before I was able to go by the old office to clean. Walking into that empty space was more difficult than I’d thought. It had been two years to the day since we had lost Ed. I cleaned through tear blurred eyes as I sorted through the memories of Papa sitting at the back of the office, and I cried a little harder when those ran out.
I learned everything I know about the newspaper business in that office. In the last two years, I found out what I was made of and what I am passionate about. I found my breaking point and a greater affection and gratitude for the people I shared the space with as they learned the same things. We created something solid. Leaving is equal parts bitter & sweet.
As I walked out the front door for the last time, I hoped I had soaked up every bit of Ed and all the goodness and heart that our small News family has shown over the last few challenging years. Turning the key in the lock, I looked into the glass door at my reflection and whispered, “Dry your eyes; tomorrow is a new day and everything is going to be just fine.”
Tuesday was, indeed, a new day and with it came a surprise. Just before we opened, a gentleman came in and introduced himself as Salvador. He went on to explain that in late 2017, he reached out to the AJ Genesis Project to get some clothes for work, and they sent him home with a sharp suit jacket, slacks and a polo. He said the first time he tried everything on, he slid his hand into the suit jacket pockets and found something that belonged to us here at The News. He said he’d been meaning to find our office for a couple years and apologized for taking so long.
With kind eyes, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded and worn piece of paper. As I straightened the delicate creases, I realized it was an uncashed check. As my eyes scanned up to the name, it took me a moment to realize what I was looking at. It was my dad’s last check from The News. It was dated 04/20/2017, he passed away 9 days later.
I believe in synchronicity and that there is meaning behind unexplained events. Mom and I have tended to our relationship and taken the time to weed our garden beds. We realized we’re more alike than we want to admit, and the qualities we share make us pretty strong women. I’m grateful for the opportunity to know my mother the way I do now and even more grateful for her willingness to always fill in the gaps, no matter how badly I mess up. That is love.
I believe Papa was with me every step of this move. Throughout all the frustration with myself, he was there, and I let myself get so worked up I couldn’t see him. When I slowed down and let myself breathe on Saturday, he found his way into my stubborn space via James Taylor and the memory the song evoked. And again, on Monday, when I locked up our old space for the final time. If I had any doubt, it was gone on Tuesday when I met Salvador.
Today is Friday. We are settling into our new space. We’re all a little tired and sore, but happily so. It’s been quite the journey, and we’re hopeful about what’s to come. #WeAreAJ