Marking twain

Jul 8, 2004

During my two years in the Hawaii (I lived there after college), I met a young woman named Sabrina Burmeister, and she and I became good friends over the summer that she spent researching honeybees in between her biology studies at New College. She was smart, fun, beautiful, loved Thai food and enjoyed exploring O’ahu. She was also in love with a guy on the Mainland – and I was still head-over-heels in love with Erin, back in Cleveland – so our relationship was a platonic one. Sabrina and I kept in touch, sporadically, over the years.

Ten years ago this week, I left Hawaii. (Read this essay to understand why.) And this week, Sabrina and her husband, Keith Sockman, moved to Chapel Hill to become biology professors at UNC-CH. I’m excited to share this area with them.

That serendipity got me to thinking on this past decade. In my job interviews, I always explain that, since I was a child, I’ve considered my life a river-crossing, with myriad stepping stones leading from one bank to the other.

Here’s what I see when I look back:

I returned to Cleveland to continue courting Erin, and a year later we were engaged; I proposed in a campground in Virginia (Virginia is for lovers, natch.) We were married August 10, 1996. My joy has only increased and intensified since.

I became an editor of Northern Ohio Live, and within six months was managing editor, and a year later editor-in-chief — at 27.

Erin and I joined the Peace Corps, and served a blissful (what mosquito-borne diseases!?) time in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. I climbed volcanoes, learned about solar-powered lighting and raised a pig (read about Mistersugar here).

Back in Cleveland, I worked for Internet start-up companies and a dynamic consulting firm (thanks to my colleagues John Ettorre, Jack Ricchiuto and Jack Solpa); I wrote a column about innovation for NOL; and I became a father to darling little Anna.

Transplanted to the South, I supported Erin in her graduate studies and enjoyed being a stay-at-home dad. Then I entered grad school. You know the rest of that story. I became a father again, to adorable little Malia.

And now our first home. Tonight I replaced a bathroom faucet, a project I’d started last night to much frustration, before a Google search informed me that a basin cock wrench would solve my problem. You’ve read about other projects around our cozy house, and I’ll write about more. I consider each of these projects — faucets, fans, floors — just more stepping stones to the other side of the river.

And what’s over on that side? I hope a career as a national journalist of note; a life of health and love; family and friends; another trip around the world; two or three books; and my many debts of gratitude repaid in full. I’ve had a wonderful crossing so far.

Anton Zuiker

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