Lubbock was always meant to be temporary, a stop in the road on the way to the rest of our lives. A means to an eventual end. We never really intended it to be a place that we’d grow attached to (though much more for the friends we’ve made here than anything inherently “Lubbockian”).

Alas, here I find myself a few scant days away from leaving with a heavy heart and a lengthy bucket list. But I’m not writing about what I haven’t done yet, but rather looking back on what I have done.

Unlike my wife (to whom I was married twice while residing here), Lubbock is the first place I’ve really lived “on my own.” College in Austin doesn’t really count, despite working nights most of the time I was there (the profits of which went more towards my expanding DVD library than anything resembling survival). So although I’d managed to live more-or-less under my own steam in Houston for half a decade, it wasn’t really until moving here that I felt truly independent, truly free.

So I started to get to know myself a bit better. Always a good thing to do. Expand that comfort zone a bit. Go out and meet some people. Maggie had her hands full with school leaving me with quite a bit of free time. Shortly before leaving Houston, I had thrown what I considered at the time to be a good chunk of change towards a fancy new camera, so coming across the Lubbock Camera Club (LCC) seemed like a great fit. I remember being hesitant going in, but the president of the club, Ron Mouser, literally welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home.

It wasn’t long before I was opening up, creating some great art, and making some great friends. I even dragged Maggie into it so we could go out of photo trips together with the club. And though I enjoyed shooting with the group, I wasn’t as much a fan of the meetings as I thought I would be. And once Maggie got pregnant, the rigid schedule became impossible for me to maintain (even more so after Myka was born). Eventually, I found my way to a budding group of photographers, a few from the LCC and some new guys from the community. Started last year by photographer Joe Baker, the 806 Photographer’s Group gave me the versatility I needed. Here was an ever-expanding group of people (photographers, models, makeup artists, and stylists) who were genuinely excited about working together to shoot, experiment, and most importantly just to have fun. We have meetings to discuss shooting concepts, a couple follow-ups as necessary, and then we go shoot. Simple. And hands on has always been a much easier way for me to learn. I just wish Joe had started the group sooner!

I’ve met some amazing people (and their amazing families) over the last three years, and those friends will be what I look back and remember five years from now. They made the Lubbock experience what it was for me.

For me, this truly is the end of a West Texas era.