I drove my 1992 Toyota Corolla into Worthington on a rainy Friday evening, finding my way without much difficulty to Golf Park Apartments on Collegeway. I hadn't seen the place before, yet it was going to my new home.
I unloaded the car and brought my belongings up to my second-floor, one-bedroom apartment, which was by all means good enough for the young bachelor I was. Those belongings, it should be said, included no furniture of any kind, and I therefore had nothing to sleep on that first night as an official resident of this southwest Minnesota community. I remember falling asleep listening to some kind of old-time program on AM radio (I imagine it must have been KWOA) while lying on the living room carpet, hoping I'd eventually get comfortable enough to fall asleep.
I must have been exhausted by the move from Dickinson, North Dakota (555 miles away), because the next thing I knew, it was noon and I was suddenly awake and hungry. The Country Kitchen out where Marco and Nickel & Associates is now was the place to grab a bite, and from there I went downtown to find what I've long felt every community needs — a local coffee shop. The Coffee Nook, located at the back of Heartsong Christian Bookstore (now the site of Phileo's), soon became a second home of sorts, as it was a mere couple of minutes' walk from there to my new job at the Daily Globe.
Two days later, I started that new job, serving as the Globe's sports editor and reporting to then-Managing Editor Doug Wolter and Editor Bob Van Enkenvoort. It was April 2, 2001. I remember that well because the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game was played that night, though I couldn't recall who even played until looking it up the other day (Duke beat Arizona). I had to wait for the Associated Press version of that story to arrive until we could put my very first Daily Globe sports section to bed.
Obviously, much has changed since arriving in Worthington 20 — twenty! — years ago. Back then, I think it's safe to say that I would've never predicted that any of the changes in my both my professional and personal lives would have taken place. My plan back in 2001 was to be a short-timer in Worthington; maybe stay put a couple of years before getting a job at the big company headquarters in Fargo or something, or perhaps another much bigger daily closer to my old hometown of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Being, say, a president of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce board or chairman of the United Way of Nobles County board weren't even fleeting thoughts.
Both of those eventually happened, though, and probably as byproducts of a massive cosmic shift that didn't take long to somehow align itself. On the evening of May 12 (a little more than one month after moving here), I met Becca Dodds while out on the town. We quickly began dating and while she didn't keep me in Worthington for long (I accepted a job in Saratoga Springs that November as the sports editor of its daily newspaper), she sure did reel me back in. I returned to southwest Minnesota just five months later, and was re-hired as the Daily Globe's news editor in November 2002 when "Bobby V" went to work at the Fort Dodge Messenger. That's actually a funny story — I was in Barnes & Noble in Sioux Falls, waiting for Becca to potentially pick out a wedding dress, when I ran into both Bob and Doug. They encouraged me to apply for the open position at the Globe, which I of course did and eventually was offered. So, significant steps toward marriage and work happened within the span of a couple of hours one Saturday afternoon.
I knew that, upon getting hired as news editor, it was going to be absolutely necessary to keep that post at least a few years for both personal and professional stability. Here we are, though, all these years later, and not only are Becca and I still here, but we're raising a couple of teenagers as well. Worthington, once a planned pit stop, has become a home.
As the old Chamber slogan used to go, "Worthington, you'll come to love us." A lot sure has happened in 20 crazy years, but I'm glad to say they've all happened here.