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Monthly Archives: July 2010

By Reid Wright

I have two confessions nine years and more than 100,000 miles in the making:

1. My family needs me, and sometimes I need them.

2. Colorado is the most beautiful state in the lower 48.

To say that I am stubborn in these realizations is a gross understatement. They come only after nearly a decade on the road moving from place to place — running.

It’s funny how you grow up home town thinking there’s no worst place on earth to live. So you hit the road in search of new horizons and new adventures. In an effort to fit in at every stop along the way, you realize one day that you don’t really belong anywhere.

I reached the end of my line in Carlsbad New Mexico. This is the closest I’ve experienced to the Wild West. Not so much the romantic horse and cowboy kind of way, but that feeling of isolation, lawlessness, danger, hopelessness and perseverance.

I’ve taken a job as a general assignment reporter at The Cortez Journal and will be returning home to where the sandstone swells of the high desert lap at the shore of the Rockies.

I feel like Odysseus, returning a changed man to a changed land. Now, I’ve got to string a bow, shoot an arrow through 12 axe loops and kick the shit out of a bunch of suitors.

The thought makes me chuckle.

I don’t really know awaits me, but I’ll put myself out there and see what relics from the past come floating to the surface. Not sure yet if it’s a permanent relocation or just another step along the way.

As I count down the days until I can watch the lights of Carlsbad sink like the Titanic in my rear-view mirror, I cannot help but feel like I have failed here.

My efforts to show the people something more than the world they’ve come to accept have fallen short.

There were resistances of course. Few people were willing to step up and speak the truth, and even fewer wanted to hear it.

Surprisingly, the most resistance came from those who could help the most. Scientists and PhDs imported from out of town by government labs and area industries were comically paranoid in their efforts to avoid even the most docile of press.

The Brine Well Working Group was baffling in their failed attempts at public relations. They would go before judges and state and federal politicians saying an enormous man-made cavern under the south end of town would collapse any year now, swallowing local infrastructure, property and human lives.

Yet they would turn around and tell the public the situation was under control.

Never had I seen a more clear-cut example of a public concern regarding public safety and public funds. Yet the group did not allow the press at their meetings or on the site of the well.

I lost sleep wondering if I had pushed hard enough.

To those who helped bring awareness to the community by speaking out, I thank you. Those who did not, I leave you to your own devices.

There was also resistance from within. My managing editor is shameless in her exploitation of crime and criminals to sell papers and boost web traffic. I don’t mind warning the public of situations or individuals who may be considered a threat to public safety, but to capitalize on the fears of the population and to ruin the lives and reputations of people who made mistakes during times of desperation is not going to solve any problems facing the community.

And then there were my own failures. I was the one who gave into the pressures. Little by little, she wore me down over time. After assembling the daily police blotter and regurgitating the police report about the criminal of the day, there was little time left to do actual reporting. Sometimes, when shown the path of least resistance, I took it willingly.

I also made some honest mistakes along the way, and burned a few bridges. Some who turned their back on me had good reason, others I will never know because they never told me of my transgressions.

It is my hope that my failures will serve as lessons for the next chapter. I learned how to play chess by losing and paying attention to how my opponent beat me. I look forward to a clean slate to begin anew.

Get ready Colorado, I’m coming home.

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