Happy anniversary. You (being Augusta and its environs) and I (being me) are celebrating 10 years together this week. Ten years ago this week I returned to Augusta to take what I assumed would be a temporary job as The Augusta Chronicle's arts and entertainment writer. Two years. Three tops.
I quickly discovered that I yearned for the community I once spurned. The town that teenage angst had urged me to dismiss had become a place to settle, serve and, if I'm lucky, perhaps improve. It has been the most rewarding experience of my life and a gig I have no intention of giving up anytime soon.
I would like to celebrate this milestone (they said it would never last) with a look back at some of my favorite memories and moments.
CELEBRATE 2000: I was so fresh out of school on Dec. 31, 1999, that I still smelled like scholarly sweat and library dust. Covering the faux-millennial party on Broad Street not only convinced me I was a man with a newspaper mission but also reminded me that I was serving a community. It's a sense of purpose I continue to carry.
JAMES BROWN'S COUCH: I had interviewed Mr. Brown before, and we had become, if not close, at least familiar. Still, I understood that being invited into his living room for an interview, being allowed to see him in his natural environment, was special. When they auctioned his belongings, I wanted, for all the world, the green sparkle couch we had sat on during that interview. I didn't have anyplace to put it or the cash to make the purchase, so now I keep it, safe and secure, in my memory.
JIMMY CARTER: I've been fortunate to cross paths with the man twice, once during a phone interview regarding a book he wrote about growing up in Plains, Ga., and the other at a preview for the Terracotta Warriors exhibition at the High Museum in Atlanta.
12 BANDS OF CHRISTMAS: I was shaken when it looked as though 12 Bands would be no more. This had become an important part of my holiday traditions because I got to see excellent acts rocking it yule style and because it reminded me of the uncommon sense of community that exists in Augusta's music scene.
THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE SINGER-SONGWRITER CONTEST: For the past several years, I've had the pleasure of putting this together. My goal has been to get as many local artists heard by the largest possible local audience. I'm not sure we've succeeded, but we've probably come close.
PORTRAIT OF BALDASSARE CASTIGLIGLIONE: A few years ago, when the High Museum was beginning its partnership with the Louvre in Paris, I had the surreal experience of spending some solo minutes with this painting. To be able to spend that kind of time with one of the world's masterpieces was a privilege I'll never forget.
WESTOBOU: A great idea that, for the most part, has been executed with verve, style and big-city professionalism. It's an exhausting 10-day festival, but also amazingly invigorating.
BROAD STREET'S RENAISSANCE: When I was growing up, downtown was ghosts and empty storefronts, a pale shadow of its former self. Today it might be the most vibrant section of the city. I'm grateful for opportunities I have to spend time there.
GOLF CAMP: Several years ago, as part of our Masters Tournament package, the paper sent me to golf camp. I guess they couldn't find anyone on staff quite as terrible as me. I can't say I'm good today, but I'm better, and I loved that opportunity to practice my craft (writing, not golf) on the road.
AUGUSTA: I love that the people of Augusta have let me into their lives, their stories and their creative endeavors. I love that people continue to care enough about the arts to read the words I write. I love that, after years of wandering the wilderness, I have settled somewhere that feels right. That's the greatest thing that's happened to me in the last 10 years.
I've found home. Thank you.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or email@example.com.