I vividly remember my first day as Fairfield Citizen sports editor.
Meeting with human resources on a cold, dreary February day, I was a 22-year-old on top of the world. I'd gotten a full-time job in my industry; I'd made it.
Every day between then and now has been a little bit different. There have been highs, lows, growth, pain, sadness, anxiety, jubilation, opinions and interaction. Oh yeah, a lot of interaction.
I just re-read my first column, from Feb. 22, 2008, and I realize the rose-colored goggles I wore on day one are probably on some metaphorical scrap heap somewhere. Though, I can proudly proclaim that I feel I was as fair on day one as I am today
We've been through a lot together. When I first started, the status of my position was tenuous, and I was the only media at games most nights. At "bigger games," a colleague from the Connecticut Post might chip in. Over the years that media became more prolific, -- as many as seven print reporters covered Fairfield regular season high school games this past year -- but I like to think we offered you the best sports coverage of this town.
I went on two trips to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., many other treks to Bristol for Little League's New England regionals; countless regular season and state tournament games in remote places -- like Granby, Manchester or Haverford, Pa. -- and some of the highest profile venues in Connecticut.
But that's all come to an end.
After five-and-a-half years, Friday is my last day. No more "Pickens' Perspective" columns. No more snark or game updates on Twitter -- some of you may have noticed the subjects of my tweets have changed.
No more Fairfield Citizen, Connecticut Post, or sister Hearst newspapers.
(Don't all rejoice at once.)
I'll be leaving for greener -- and less paper-filled -- pastures. I'm still going to do some Fall sports preview material, and I'd venture to guess you'll see my work as an editorial producer for MLB.com -- Major League Baseball's official website. If you continue to follow me on social media, you'll probably see my stamp put on the work I'm putting in.
If not, then this is the end.
There are so many people I'd like to thank and recognize. First, and foremost, my editors Jim Doody and John Schwing. Many of you interact with Jim, but you probably don't know the side that I've seen: the uberprofessional news man with a keen eye and sharp wit. And John is, without question, the hardest working man in the business.
I've been working for the Connecticut Post, off and on, since 2006. In that time, I've built lasting relationships with guys like Bill Paxton, Gary Rogo, Gino Moretti, Sandy Sulzycki, Dave Wells and Chris McNamee, who all have had a hand in my growth and development.
My fellow sports reporters and columnists, guys like Doug Bonjour, Kevin Duffy, Mike Fornabaio, Chris Elsberry, all shaped my reporting style, offered me practical and useful tips and were all just downright good guys.
Most humbling have been the well wishes offered by competitors, or former co-workers, some of whom I haven't spoken with in years. The public likes to create feuds between us, but I personally know my competition as allies. When the public doesn't understand what we go through, our competition often does.
To the athletic directors, site directors, coaches, athletic trainers, athletes and friends I've made along the way, you've made my experience both memorable and enjoyable.
And importantly, any of you who have read this space over the past 66-or-so months deserve some appreciation. You've all taught me boundaries, and that kids are simply kids.
Thousands of Fairfielders have entered and exited my lives, and I appreciate you renting me this place as my second home. I've lived or worked in Fairfield County, off and on, for the past 10 years in my most formative adult years. I'll always look back on my time here and remember various life lessons one, or most, of you have offered.
Whether you like me or not, accept that I did the best I could at that particular time. Fairfield, unlike many other towns in this county, is diverse. Folks here can spot a phony, and you can't simply "root, root, root for the home team" in Fairfield and be taken seriously.
Journalism is strange that way. If you do your job, your constituents might hate you. If you don't do your job, your peers might not respect you. It's all about finding a happy medium. I still view reporting as a public service and hope you feel I served you well.
Did I find that middle ground all the time? No. Was I harsh sometimes? Sure. But I've lived and learned, and hopefully you have too.
Just remember to treat my successor with respect, and he'll do all he can to cover this town fairly and neutrally.
That's all I've got for now. You've been a wonderful audience.