January 26 – My Journey Back – CHARACTER GUEST POST
Back in the 1930s, Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can’t Go Home Again. I admit I’ve never read the book, but I can tell you from experience that the title is a lie.
I went home again, and it was the best thing I ever did.
My name is Callie Cassidy—or Callahan Maureen Cassidy, as my mother used to refer to me when I’d done something to frustrate her. (I say that as if it were past tense, but in the interest of truth, I still hear my full name on her lips occasionally.) I was born in Rock Creek Village, Colorado, a small, sweet mountainside town nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. My childhood—if unremarkable—was a happy one, complete with parents who loved (and still love) me, a tribe of friends, and a beautiful landscape in which to practice the craft of photography.
But I was one of those teenagers who couldn’t wait to fly far from the nest. The small-town vibe bored me, and I dreamed of the day I’d escape to the big city, where my fantasies told me excitement abounded. So when I graduated from high school, I set off for college in Austin, Texas. It was everything I hoped it would be, and I vowed never again to live in anywhere with a population of less than a million souls. For the next twenty-plus years, I kept that promise while I chased my whirlwind career as an investigative photojournalist, reaching a pinnacle when I snagged my dream job at The Washington Sentinel. Rock Creek Village became a distant blur in my rearview mirror.
I thought busy and successful meant happy—at least for a time. Who needed friends? When I got lonely, I adopted a loving golden retriever and named him Woody, after Bob Woodward, one of my journalistic heroes.
Then, about a year ago, a lapse in my judgment led to devastating mistake at the newspaper, and I knew I could never make it right. So I did what thousands have done before me and many more will in the future: I proved Thomas Wolfe wrong. Dog in tow, I ran back to Mommy and Daddy, who tucked us into a cozy cabin at the Knotty Pine, a resort they own and operate. They fed me comfort food, soothed me, and babied me—until they wearied of my wallowing and decided my pity-party needed to end. Without my permission, my mother signed me up for a photo gig at the village’s winter ball. Though that didn’t exactly work out as expected, it was just what I needed to rejoin the land of the living.
As so often happens, my parents knew best. What I believed to be the worst thing that could have happened to me turned out to be the best. Moving back to Rock Creek Village has been such a positive journey that I often wonder why I ever left. After a wobbly start, I’m on my feet again, stronger and happier than I can ever remember. My new career—owner of Sundance Studio photography gallery—fills me with a peace and joy I never attained as a journalist. My friendship with Tonya has blossomed again, and I’ve even rekindled a high school romance with Sam Petrie, owner of the Snow Plow Chow. The relationship has its trials, but I think we just might make it—whatever that means. Woody and I even adopted a brother for him last year—an orange tabby cat I named Carl, after Bob Woodward’s partner, Carl Bernstein. Every day, I’m more convinced Carl possesses an innate wisdom, along with investigative skills that may surpass those of his namesake.
Mostly, my life is ideal. Sure, sometimes I long for the adrenaline rush of my former life. But when I yearn for those old investigative days…well, fate seems to intervene with murder in our little village, and I find my skills in demand yet again.
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