It hit me as I was standing among my fellow media mopes before Tuesday night's Bulls-Celtics game: This might be the last time I ever step foot in the United Center.
Even now, many hours later, writing that sentence seems strange.
I covered a couple dozen Bulls and Blackhawks games for AP and other outlets this season. I won't be doing any playoff games, as I'm more needed at Chicago's ballparks. And by the time next season rolls around, I have no idea what I'll be doing or where I'll be doing it.
My wife and I are talking about relocating to another city if the right opportunity presents itself for one or both of us. Even if I still am in Chicago, I might be doing something else with my life by the time next fall rolls around.
I mean, I've already had so many offers to be a male model, I can't keep turning them down, right?
No matter what, I sure won't be buying tickets for events at the U.C. Not only would I have to be employed, I'd need two jobs - two good jobs! - to afford those ticket prices.
So maybe Tuesday night (when I was freelancing for the suburban Northwest Herald) marked the end of a personal era.
If so, it's been a pretty fun ride. This airplane-hangar of a place lacks the charm and intimacy of the old Stadium. It lacks the history, too. Still ...
I covered the Bulls' second threepeat, writing about Michael Jordan so often that his name would appear on the screen of my laptop as soon as I turned it on. (Just kidding - but that would have been a neat trick, huh?) I've also covered more than a few big moments for the Blackhawks since arriving in Chicago in 1994.
Then again, I mostly witnessed godawful basketball and hockey.
I'll never forget Bill Wennington promising the first post-Jordan crowd that the Bulls might not win much but that they'd never stop hustling. He then didn't move an inch as he lost the opening tip - the perfect coming attraction for the joke Bulls basketball would become.
As for the Hawks, they've come back nicely to be contenders again. It only took them a dozen years. Alpo Suhonen, we hardly knew ye! It got so bad that I rarely bothered writing about them for most of that time. My mom (like yours, probably) always said: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."
OK, I've waxed nostalgic long enough. Here's to new horizons.