Posted by: Hours Per Mile | February 24, 2010


I remember the night with perfection. I was wearing a gray sweatshirt, the cuffs stained brown from my love of the thing, and we were all sitting around on the gold Victorian furniture, hugging our knees, cold due to the broken heater, warm bellies full of Malbec.  I forget who birthed the idea but once it was on the table our eyes lit up, the pressure in our hearts steamed as the excitement built, our faces pulled tight with promising smiles.

“Yeah, I’ll do it,” said Graham as he leaned forward, his hands clasped, his eyes bright.

“I’m in,” said Gordo who sat on the floor cross-legged, his face a picture of earnestness. Emma squealed her approval, for she has a way of doing that, her big eyes growing even wider as she looked at each of us.

All I said was, “I’m serious.”

There the four of us sat, making deals for the future. It felt like a business transaction taking place—money discussed, time frames, vague technicalities, promises. At the end of the night we knew we had to do it. It would have been so easy, so much cheaper, so much safer, to board an airplane and fly home. A mere ten hours of flying high above unknown places and then our post-college life could begin like a funeral commending the efforts of four zealous, dream-seeking 23 year olds.

For, we had already escaped the reality facing us upon graduation by moving to Argentina to teach English, learn Spanish, mimic their way of life. While our friends submitted resumes and anxiously counted down the days until their parents would cut them off, we moved to a country where we divided everything’s price by three and got paid hordes for the language commodity with which we were born. Nevertheless, home beckoned.

But Graham, Gordo, Emma and I were going to drag our feet the whole way back, for we had vowed one another to travel from the southernmost tip of South America all the way to our parents’ front doors, carrying our belongings on our backs, carrying with us all our hopes and preconceptions about places we’ve only maybe even read about.

Each of us was escaping something, or on a search to find something, probably both. Each of us wanted to break boundaries though, and for what reason we did not know other than it sounded fun and we were still young, brave and full of it. Caution drowned in those last drops of wine sliding down our excited throats and we shook hands. It was going to be an adventure in every sense of the word.

Thus, I present to you a collection of spare thoughts coined during a time of much reflection and travel.


  1. This is your Momma, who prayed for you every inch of the way from the southernmost tip of S. America to home in Marietta, GA. What an adventure for you, but what a suspenseful time for your parents, fearing the worst every day. Even though it was painful for your Dad and me, I wouldn’t give anything for the opprtunity you carved out for yourself to, once again, live life to the fullest.

    • I love it! I’m on the edge of my seat. Keep writing!!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. At this moment, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this much anticipated look into your courageous journey. I will be forever grateful. My sons are my reason for waking and breathing. One day you will know why I am so honored to have received this brilliant piece of art. I want more and more! (As a Mother of a SON, I appreciate any and every detail!)

    I am the proudest mother in the world, who gave birth to Zachary Gordon, 27 years ago, this March 1. For I believe that Zach is the best son a Mother could EVER ask for. He also has the coolest, most awesome friends, EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    P.S. Graham, I love you for being my son’s “second brother”.

  3. elise! man, this is a-mazing. i love this blog already, if that says anything. i hope you and john are doing well. miss you!
    k a c y e

  4. It is normal for me to be discovering this blog long after it’s creation. I have quirks. This trip scared me, to be honest. I can’t believe I just said, “to be honest”. It is another way to say, ” otherwise I would be lying”.
    I cannot read and listen to music at the same time, so I read it, absorbing it fully. When I paint, I listen to music or baseball. But it is different when you are creating opposed to viewing. I guess another way to put it is, it is hard to listen to music while listening to music. Elise, your writing is easy to get sucked into. Maybe it has to do with the topic also which is important when trying to sell your work. Example: no one buys paintings of alleyway with garbage cans in them.
    Elise, You came up with this idea, I know for sure!
    I will try to write more but am a busy guy.
    I love you. your brother Bernard

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