Tomorrow marks one year since I finished my last day at the Bloomington Herald-Times and had to move out of the apartment where I stayed since moving there nine months earlier.
That's the day I became the homeless editor.
It didn't occur to me until late today because I'm busy -- I have a job and a place to stay once more.
I've been through some shit in my life, more than some, less than others, but this last year was my oddest -- and best.
Through my troubles -- a phrase I use to describe the year -- I've been more blessed than anytime in my life and, trust me, I have been blessed.
Working hard to be mindful, I've stored every memory of acts of decency and kindness and then tonight I read some of the early blog entries. I had forgotten two beers from my friend Greg. I failed to remember some extraordinarily good barbecue brought to my Motel 6 room by a stranger. I couldn't recall all the many times someone slipped me a gift card or a $20 or bought me a couple beers.
Some dude let me live in his cabin for five months for free. Thank you, dude.
I ate often from the chefs at the free Community Kitchen who offered restaurant meals free without a question but many smiles -- and sometimes candy treats.
As much as these acts helped me financially, they more positively buoyed my spirits in difficult times.
I was a 54- and then 55-year-old man looking for a job in the midst of a pandemic coupled with a recession.
And yet here I sit in Hayward, not farm from home, with wonderful colleagues, copious amounts of beer and bratwurst and -- get this -- a permanent address.
I learned so many lessons on how to conduct myself based on the kindness showered on me. I envision a book out of it, tentatively tilted "Lessons from my life when I was a piece of shit."
I'll tell you I dealt with trolls and skepticism and accusations I was simply trying to make people sorry for me.
Early on, I wrote that my daughter -- on reading the trolls from around the country after The New York Times wrote about me -- wanted to respond. I told her the first negative letter to the editor against me was printed almost 40 years ago in my high school newspaper.
One needs a thick hide.
But one also needs the mindfulness to be aware of the kindness, friendship and beauty around us.
The other day I watched as a bald eagle sat in a tree high above Lake Hayward and then dived down to catch an unsuspecting fish.
I'm in a good place, not just zip code, but mentally, spiritually and consciously.
Peace and thanks unto all of you my brothers and sisters for joining me on this long, strange mystery tour.