Prologue: Should I Continue?

For years I’ve trapped this story in the basement of my soul. Holding it in has felt like holding a rabid wolf by the ears. Do I continue to hold on? Do I let go?

I hope you can help me decide.

In 2005, my wife of 31 years filed for divorce. It was final in 2006 and friends in New Mexico invited me to spend the holidays with them. I got to their house on December 16, 2006. I left the next day and started my dream trip.

My question: Should I continue writing this story? Or should I just stop now, call it quits and chalk it up on the “it was a good idea at the time” blackboard of life.

My Story: Prologue

I gently pushed the screen door. I had only been there a day, but I knew that if you didn’t lift and push at the same time, the bottom would drag on the concrete. I didn’t want to wake anyone. I left a note on the kitchen table telling them it was time. I didn’t need to say more. They knew my story. They knew what I was doing.

Easing the door closed, I stopped in the garage to light a cigarette. Coffee and cigarettes are the two basic food groups. A journey of a thousand miles doesn’t begin with the first step. It begins with caffeine and nicotine.

Before that, it began with a dream. My dream had started ten-years before in a Psych Ward in Staunton, Virginia.

Closing the garage door I stepped into the snow. The driveway was clear the night before. Heavy snow which started at 3am had already dropped 5 inches.

I took one more step and looked around. That was the first step of my recovery — my healing. I had no way of knowing I had taken the first step of a trip that would last six years and end in Buenos Aires.

Between the start and finish, I would meet two Presidents — in the Oval Office, spend six weeks with the Sinaloa drug cartel along the US/Mexican border in the desert, get caught in a buffalo stampede in Washington State and sail a 16th century schooner into the open Atlantic.

And more. I spent 4 months with Occupy Wall Street, got locked up by the federal marshals in Washington DC, spent 3 weeks trout fishing with Iraqi veterans on the Colorado river and lived weeks with crusty miners in the coal fields of West Virginia.

And there is still more. But those are for another day.

The story you’re about to read is true. All of it. I lived it. One day at a time. The life-lessons I learned along the way were hard, but necessary.

My old man didn’t leave me much when he died other than two pieces of wisdom. I’d like to have a dollar for every time he told me I was just “living proof that there is always room for improvement.”

Another thing my old man said: “Boy, there’s a fine line between bravery and stupid. And you just crossed it.”

As I stepped onto Mescalero Street, I wondered which side of the line I was on. I was walking to Washington DC.

I am an American freelance writer and ghostwriter now living the expat life in Argentina. Never far from my coffee and Marlboros, I am always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Email me at jandrewnelson2@gmail.com and join the million-or-so who follow my life and work on Twitter @ Journey_America.

Thanks for being part of my wild and wonderful journey called life.