The time has arrived for me to start thinking about what I am going to miss about the Texas Panhandle.
Our retirement journey this week took a big step forward to the next place.
This place, though, has been good to my wife and me. We’ve called it home for 23 years … plus a couple of months. As we prepare to move on down the road, I am filled with many memories.
One of them slapped me in the face the first time I ever laid eyes on this region. It occurred in late 1994. I flew from Beaumont to Amarillo to interview for a job at the Amarillo Globe-News, which had a post to fill: editorial page editor of both papers, the Daily News and the Globe-Times.
I landed at Amarillo International Airport, walked into the terminal and met the man I hoped to succeed. Tom Thompson was about to become press secretary for the newly elected congressman from the Panhandle, Republican Mac Thornberry.
We walked out to the parking lot and I noticed right away: Man, this place looks so … big!
I could not get over how far one can see here. We walked to Thompson’s car and even riding from the airport toward downtown I couldn’t take my eyes off the panorama.
I don’t recall my precise words to Thompson as we drove into the city, but I think it was something like, “I cannot believe how big and spread out everything looks.”
If you’ve been the Golden Triangle, or seen the Piney Woods of Deep East Texas, you get what I meant. The pine trees and the dogwoods are lush. The highways that course through the woods, however, do tend leave one with a bit of claustrophobia.
Not here, man! You see the High Plains of Texas for the first time and you feel, well, sort of liberated.
Yes, I will miss that feeling here. I will miss the big, beautiful sky that I’ve said before is God’s payback to the region for neglecting to grant this part of the world with purple mountain majesty.
I’m like to have more to say in the days and weeks ahead about the many friends my wife and I have made here. I’ll offer a word or two about the professional fulfillment I received while working for nearly 18 years at the local newspaper. I might even say something about how I managed to navigate my way through a community with a significantly different world view than the one I carry with me.
Today, my mind takes me back to that first glimpse of the wide open spaces this region provides. One’s first impression of a place often is the most compelling. So it was when I first cast my gaze on the place we would call “home.”