I signed my name on the dotted line and my red flags were going off everywhere. I watched the ink flow across the page and whispered to myself, "Here goes." I was living a parallel version of my old life, but it no longer felt like my life. I tried to make it work. Then one day, I quit. I didn't pull a Jerry Maguire. I didn't write a mission statement and make a dramatic exit, stealing the fish and the secretary on the way out.
Instead, I walked out of the television station for the last time, and the glass door closed behind me. Sometimes when you leave, as I had done, you don't get to change your mind. This particular choice was final.
As I drove over the bridge, across the Cooper River, I felt the bittersweet mix of loss and acceptance. Dozens of good memories flashed before me. The time I ate green grits on live television. Scenes from my wedding on the nightly news. All those high fives and after work beers with co-workers after leaping tall buildings and making the deadlines, just in the nick of time.
I blinked away tears as I felt a smile form. It’s so much easier for me to reduce an experience to good or bad. But to look back on a life with no regrets, I must be willing to take it all and appreciate how it coexists. How it all works together to illuminate the next step.
This is the end of a series inspired by mementos found inside an old trunk. Each part stands alone, but together, they tell a story. If you'd like to read from the beginning, click here.