I’ve never been really good at change. I like stability. I like normalcy. I like routine. To give you perspective — I have eaten roughly 15,000 breakfasts in my life. Since I can remember, about 13,000 of those have been maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal.
Routine makes me happy.
So I am as surprised as anyone that I have decided to close up shop in my hometown and relocate my family to Charleston, S.C.
I have taken a job as the Executive Director of the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts. The job, when reviewing it for the first time, felt like it was handcrafted for me. It was all the things I had done in my life and leaned on all of my skills.
When the job offer finally became official, I knew this much was true: If everything lined up and I declined the job, the biggest reason for that would be fear of the unknown. And I knew every day down the road I would regret not accepting a new challenge or breaking routine. But it’s time to break routine.
I will leave behind many things that make me feel safe, secure, comfortable. I run into my elementary school teachers in the grocery school. People already know my kids when they meet them for the first time. Sick kid? Grandma’s right around the corner. But it’s time to jump off a cliff and try something new and scary and exciting.
I wasn’t looking for a new job. I wasn’t looking to leave my hometown. But sometimes, things align perfectly.
I am fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive network of friends and family who have been nothing but encouraging during this decision. When I left Aiken for college, I vowed I would never come back, as many graduates do. I returned five years later. When my wife (then-girlfriend) came to visit in 1996, she fell in love with the place, and we decided this was where we would raise our family. And we have done that, since our daughter was born in 2000, and our son in 2003.
But now it’s time to tackle a new adventure. I know that I am not the only person to have moved away from home. Most people do it. But most people aren’t the same creature of habit that I am. Which makes this decision all the more exhilarating and, quite frankly, terrifying. When I accepted the offer, I said to my wife, “You weren’t expecting this out of me, were you?” She was not.
I always enjoy a good adventure. This is simply a new adventure for Team Gibbons. We are embarking on a new journey, one that will be filled with exciting new opportunities and forming an entire new world that we live in.
To my family in Aiken — thank you for your support and encouragement all of the time, but especially when I decided to make this move.
To my Aiken Community Playhouse family — thank you for being the home away from home that everyone needs. I can’t wait to see the great things you continue to do.
To my Golden Harvest Food Bank family — thank you for your mission of Feeding Lives Together, and continue to do that important work you do.
To my elementary school teachers I run into at the grocery store — I’m really sorry about the way I behaved 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent was someone else’s fault.
To all of the wonderful people of my hometown — I’m going to make a new home in Charleston. But Aiken will always be home. Who says you can only have one home?
I have been shaped by Aiken. My wife has now lived the majority of her life here. It is the only hometown my children have known. While part of me is certainly and understandably sad to be leaving, I am moving to a fantastic city for an amazing job and a new chapter in my family’s life. I am leaving Aiken behind. But I’m taking plenty of it with me. Aiken has shaped my family and me. This opportunity came about in large part because of the Mike that Aiken helped mold. For that, Aiken, I am forever indebted to you. I will be back often, and I hope to see you around.
And although I’m moving, I’m not completely leaving Aiken. After all, I’ll see you next Wednesday in the paper. I’ll just be checking in from Charleston…
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C., and now lives in Charleston. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.