This short, nonfiction piece is about the day I left New Jersey and moved to Chicago, over fourteen and a half years ago. It is perhaps the beginning of a novel. It is also a piece of work that got me accepted into the Long Ridge Writers Group School of Writing over five years ago. This version has been revised and edited a bit. I also changed it from third person to first person. Although I KNOW it is not perfect, it is just something I wanted to throw out there. I hope you enjoy it.

On July 11th, 1994 I headed westbound on route eighty passing Rockaway, New Jersey in my maroon, Volkswagen Golf. Packed in the car were all of my worldly and valuable possessions, including my nineteen-inch television, stereo, favorite movies, CD’s, and some clothes. The wallet in the back pocket if my Levi jeans held the last two thousand dollars to my name.

Not more than thirty minutes ago, I shared some very tearful good-byes with my mother, sister and two nephews. The last words I heard were from my sobbing sister, who whispered in my ear. “I can’t believe you’re leaving.”

The day before the good-byes were with my father, stepmother and brother. My dad left me with, “We’ll see you soon.”

My family’s tears were not the same as mine. Theirs were of sorrow, and sadness in hating to see me go. They all hoped and believed that at some point I would change my mind.

I felt the complete opposite. My tears were of shear joy and elation for having the strength and courage to say good-bye and start over again somewhere else. That somewhere else being Chicago. I knew with one hundred percent certainty that there was no turning back and I would not be back, other than to visit.

As I approached the first sign for the Delaware Water Gap, like a reflex action, I let out a huge sigh of relief that only I could appreciate. It seemed as though the weight of the world had finally been lifted off my shoulders. The feeling of exhilaration was nothing like I had ever experienced in my entire thirty years. It truly felt like some angel had swooped in and gently removed the two thousand pound gorilla that I had been lugging around for the past fifteen years.

I stopped to pay the toll at the Delaware Water Gap, where route eighty exits New Jersey and enters Pennsylvania. The scenery on a drive like this is always picturesque, as you enter the Pocono Mountains and head into the heart of Pennsylvania. Mother nature takes over with incredible snapshots of the mountains and the Delaware River. Unforgettable, soothing views of the highway cutting through the mountains can take over the senses and easily become therapeutic. But, on this very warm July day, every physical image around me was totally irrelevant. I didn’t notice any of it, as the drive itself became my therapy.

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  • Jasin on Dec 23, 2008

    Nice story, good work.

  • Glynis Smy on Dec 23, 2008

    So glad you took courage by the hand! Changing your life can make huge differences, I changed my life and my country, I have no regrets! Lovely read, thanks for sharing

  • Bren Parks on Dec 23, 2008

    What a GREAT rites of passage story….very rich in detail that pulls the reader in to be immersed in the writing. Great work!

  • Lauren Axelrod on Dec 23, 2008

    Wonderfully transcribed Peter. I am intrigued about why you left. Tell me more.

  • Abdul Sabour Ayoubi on Dec 23, 2008

    A great story of hope, well done Peter.

  • lindalulu on Dec 23, 2008

    Well written story of life. No wonder you were accepted because of this. Very nice!

  • CutestPrincess on Dec 23, 2008

    its been a long drive, huh? anyway… it’s a nice story, you learn for your experienced! everybody does!

  • Lost in Arizona on Dec 23, 2008

    Brings back memories of the freedom of letting go to begin your own life, while your family struggles to let you go. Well written.

  • leannehume on Dec 23, 2008

    Wow good for you, I know exactly what it is like when we move and try to settle somewhere else, for me it was a different country as you know. I wouldn’t go back either. Really we written and it would make a very good start for a novel. :)

  • Alaina Ellington on Dec 23, 2008

    A wonderful story!! You really brought it to life, definitely think you should turn this into a novel, after you finish the others I am so impatiently waiting on!! lol…Great work…not that I would expect anything less from such a brilliant mind!!
    Talk soon!!
    .xoxo.
    Alaina

  • Inna Tysoe on Dec 23, 2008

    Hi Peter–

    You get the feeling across very well but, as others have said, you may want to proof read this piece again. But like I said–it really gets your emotions across.

    Inna

  • Judy Sheldon on Dec 23, 2008

    Beautifully written, leaving one to wonder first what was so horrible and second what was to come. This is truly a wonderful beginning for the story.

  • Jamie Puhi on Dec 24, 2008

    Good write, You caught a good flow for your readers to embrace your being at that certain moment in time.

  • MMV Abad on Dec 24, 2008

    I enjoyed reading it, Peter. Thanks for sharing. Happy holidays :)

  • Rana Sinha on Dec 24, 2008

    Very interesting. Moving places always changes lives and brings new challenges. As I read your story, I started to think of my own move and country change. Keep on writing and let the story unfold.

  • Peter Cimino on Dec 24, 2008

    I want to thank everyone for your wonderful and constructive feedback. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it.
    After reading two of these comments, I feel compelled to say a few thnigs which I never really do because it’s usually not necessary.
    As described, this is NOT a complete story. It is more like the first page of a novel. So, it is impossible to give the kind of details that someone is looking for. You cannot tell the story of an entire book on the first page. You must leave some things to the imagination to keep the reader hooked.
    Someone said, I should proof read my work. Wow! I’ve got news for you. I proof read my work more times than I can count. I also have others proof read my work. That is a pretty big assumption. Does it mean that the piece is perfect? Of course not. But to make a general statement like that without specifics is kind of lame. One of the reasons I don’t post a lot of articles and stories is because I proof read and edit so much. The bottom line is, if you are going to make a statement like that be specific and have proof that I didn’t proof read it. Don’t just piggy back on the previous person’s comments.
    As far as my sister whispering in my ear goes….I put whisper because that’s what she did, but the tone of the whisper told me was very upset. Sorry you cannot understand that. As far as the word sordid goes. Look up the definition. It means distateful. How do you know that is too strong of a word? Do you know what is behind this story? I’ve got news for you. Sordid is the perfect word.
    I am all for constructive criticism in writing technique, but be careful with your comments. They have to have merit. Feel free to send me a personal note if you want to coach me in writing prose. I am not a perfect writer. I am still learning and consider myself a good student. That is why I went into a writing school five years ago. But I am pretty confident I learned a thing or two over those years.
    Again, be careful with criticism because you open yourself up to the same. Thanks for reading though.

  • Dewan Golam Shafi Choudhury on Dec 24, 2008

    Hi pete!
    This story is so good, I know it is important that evreyone has to change their life at some point.
    Well done!
    Are their more chapters as you say it is the beggining of a novel?
    Post the other ones!

  • Debra. on Dec 24, 2008

    The beginning is very smart and engaging with a little inspirational touch. You begin telling your story but only what the reader needs to know at this time. That will also keep them wondering what’s going on. You’ve got to hook your reader right away because if you don’t hook them from the beginning then the books not worth selling. Very good start for you, Peter.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

  • leannehume on Dec 24, 2008

    Hi again, You know you are well in your rights to stand up for yourself there, in my oppinion and many more this is something significant that has happened within your lifetime and you only can tell that story in which ever way you feel will get the point accross. If perhaps one day you should write a novel with this being the first page I will most certainly buy it as I know what you write is from the heart, not only this I know that I will be provided with an extremely good read. I think you should persue this write as a novel project as I feel you will go far with it as I know all your readers will relate to it on some level.

    Also may I add in that I feel that fellow writers should only provide constructive criticism when they either are etablished themselves or at least have provided the writing community with something that proves they are reptible enough to pass such judgement on works that have obviously had a lot of thought put into them.

    Lea :)

  • Debbie Berk on Dec 24, 2008

    Interesting story. Nice job.

  • Joie Schmidt on Dec 25, 2008

    Nice narrative story, thank you for sharing it!

    Blessings.

    Sincerely,

    -Liane Schmidt.

  • Are you on Drugs? on Dec 25, 2008

    Leannehume

    What the hell are you talking about? everyone gave him a lovely compliment. No one said anything negative until you came along.

  • eddiego65 on Dec 25, 2008

    You express yourself very well! I can see this is but a start to a great journey so I look forward to the continuation!

  • Mary Patricia Bird on Dec 25, 2008

    This is a fantastic story that really draws the reader in and leaves them, at least me, wanting more. I do hope you continue with this story. I think all your wording is great… very well written. One tiny little thing (if you don’t mind)…

    “I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the horrors, tragedies, and disappointments of my sordid past were now behind him.”

    Should the last word in that sentence be “me”?

    Good work! Keep it up.

  • Lex92 on Dec 26, 2008

    Great story Peter!

  • Poetic Enigma on Dec 26, 2008

    This is a great story,
    very descriptive and
    enjoyable to read

  • PR Mace on Dec 28, 2008

    Hi Peter,

    I think your story is very good and would make a good novel. I to have problems with proof reading. I even have my husband proof read for me. I always see what I know I wanted to say. I have posted stories and then found errors. We are not all perfect people or perfect writers. I have a degree in English and still make mistakes. Sorry I have not checked you out sooner. I was on vacation for a while and then had out-of-town guest for Christmas. I would love for you to check out my lastest articles on our vacation. I think you would enjoy the pictures. Take care and keep writing. I wrote a children’s book that I am trying to have published. Take each chapter as a short story and built on it. Good luck, my friend, Pam

  • hfj on Dec 29, 2008

    Nice short story, and very detailed. To pull up stakes and move to another area of the ole U.S.A., is a scary but also the excitement of new adventures that await you. You brought it all out very well in your story. Good work.

  • Amie on Dec 29, 2008

    Nice article, i enjoy reading your pieces of writing. Keep up the good work and let me know if you want me to read anything else.

  • lanne on Dec 29, 2008

    Very nice work. I really enjoyed it.

  • Michele Cameron Drew on Dec 31, 2008

    Hey Peter,

    I’m sorry that it took me so long to get here. I think it’s a great beginning and a very familiar one. I did the same thing in ‘97 with my two kids… drove from Manchester, NH to Portland, OR, leaving my entire world behind. I can completely relate to this. I can’t wait to read more. :)

    Happy New Year!

    -M

  • Bernadette Louise on Dec 31, 2008

    What a wonderful story. Nice job!

  • Blue Buttefly on Jan 1, 2009

    One of a kind, well done!

  • Bo Russo on Jan 4, 2009

    I thought the story was great.Crummy comments are not necessary.
    You left me wanting to know more,and anticipation from the reader means the writer has written well,at least that’s what I think.It takes a lot of nerve to up and leave your comfort zone.

  • Mary Contrary on Jan 4, 2009

    What a wonderful story of change and survival! Great Job! Keep the wonderful stories coming!

  • Susan Orr Parker on Jan 4, 2009

    Peter- I love this work. My in-laws live in Sussex county, and the drive through the Delaware water gap always takes my breath away, and yet I can now so clearly picture you leaving it, for the last time.

    Susan

  • Yovita Siswati on Jan 6, 2009

    Beautifully written story. I enjoy reading it. Good work!

  • Kim Buck on Jan 6, 2009

    Nothing like moving foward. Good luck.

    I have also encountered Drew…I hope he can’t keep a good man down.

  • Mercedes Selvira on Jan 9, 2009

    This is a great exposition for a novel, in terms of content. You’ve begun at just the right part, at the turning point, and you do an excellent job of conveying the emotions and intriguing the reader. I especially like the line, “It truly felt like some angel had swooped in and gently removed the two thousand pound gorilla that I had been lugging around for the past fifteen years.”
    However, I can understand why someone might think that this hasn’t been proofread; there are some obvious mistakes. For example, in the line, “Through life’s trials and tribulations, I always did the very best I could just like I has been taught.” ‘Has’ should be ‘had.’ Judging by the proximity of the letters ’s’ and ‘d’ on the keyboard and the fact that you are obviously not an idiot, I’m assuming that this is just a typo, and I’m a little confused about why you didn’t catch it. Additionally, this sentence would flow better with a comma after ‘could.’ Also, in “From the second I even considered the move, the knots in his stomach slowly began to untie themselves.” I’m fairly sure ‘his’ should be ‘my.’

  • Morgana on Jan 9, 2009

    I can understand the sadness your family members felt as you were leaving.For them it was hard to accept that you wouldn’t be right there close and assessable . I can also understand your need to leave that life which saddened you behind. You were in search for a new beginning.

  • Peter Cimino on Jan 10, 2009

    Okay, it’s time to put to rest some of the madness over what I consider one of the weakest and meaningless pieces of work I have ever put out to Triond.
    1. I KNOW it’s not perfect. So, please, please chill people.
    2. I did NOT throw this piece out expecting any kind of technical feedback whatsoever. As the intro says…it was tweaked “a bit” NO WHERE does it say this is a PERFECT, POLISHED piece that is submittable to a publisher for print.
    3. For those that are offering constructive feedback..thank you. But honestly, send me a private note if you want to teach me something. Giving back and helping is all part of being on Triond. Besides that, if you are giving advice on writing technique and technicalities, you better have the background, resume and experience to back it up. By that I mean, I would expect that you are either a teacher, have various articles published IN PRINT magazines or publications, or you have a published book (and NOT self published either).
    4. I am a STUDENT of writing. I am NOT a polished author. I have not claimed to be nor do I consider myself one. But I have for sure come a long way and made many positive strides. READ my other work and you will see that.
    5. Comments on Triond as far as I’m concerned should be geared towards the SPIRIT and EFFORT of the piece NOT the technical aspects. Remember, we all have feelings and they get bruised when someone who is just as unqualified tells us our writing is not good. Again, IF your intent is to really HELP someone, then send them a private note and really try to help.
    6. I have NEVER EVER written a negative comment about anyone’s work. And let’s be honest, there is a lot of work that is not considered professional. I take into consideration the effort, the content and the passion. On the other hand I have offered on PRIVATE notes to help several people.
    7. To the guy whose MEAN SPIRITED comments I keep deleting, and you know exactly who you are, you will continue to get what you deserve…DELETION! The reason is, it is mean spirited and there is NO place for that here. Why don’t you share with everyone your resume of flawless work so everyone can read in awe. OH, and for those that don’t know…this person got kicked out of Triond because of his actions. I will say thanks for one thing though…you keep giving me more views!! Totally cool. Other than that, this is the one and ONLY time I will address you.
    From here on you will get what you deserve…deletion.

    Sorry folks….I am sorry about the negativity and for getting on a soap box, and I really do appreciate feedback and help. I am a STUDENT of writing. Again, if you really want to HELP, send me a private note and I will listen and take your constructive criticism. But, be sure to look at your own work first.
    Again, please chill people.

  • Josey on Jan 11, 2009

    I love this. It reminds me of when I first joined the Army and moved on my own to Georgia. I can see what an important turning point this was for you in your life and you have captured it well in words.

    Nice job!

  • Mr Ghaz on Jan 14, 2009

    Very well-written stories and Thanks for sharing. Well done!

  • C Jordan on Jan 18, 2009

    A very good piece Peter

  • Alistair Briggs on Jan 18, 2009

    Good piece

  • rockerz on Jan 21, 2009

    nice story love to read the rest of your articles.

  • Joie Schmidt on Jan 22, 2009

    Thank you for sharing your experience*

    Blessings.

    Sincerely,

    -Liane Schmidt.

  • Duke on Jan 23, 2009

    This is one fine introduction. The concept of this story is very deep and can be related to by many. Great start to what should be a great finished piece.

    -Duke

  • Maria Blazz on Jan 24, 2009

    Good start for a bigger piece!

  • IreniaPehuajo on Jan 26, 2009

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  • nutuba on Jan 27, 2009

    All right, I’m hooked. I want to read more. :-) This was a very enjoyable read; it flows well and it keeps the interest level up. What’s funny to me is that I think I remember that exact day you’re talking about, because that’s my wedding anniversary. That WAS a hot day that year. Anyway, great job!

  • richard reed on Feb 6, 2009

    I think your a great writer..this was a great piece.keep up the great work,.,..,STAY BLESSED

  • Vikram Chhabra on Feb 7, 2009

    This was a remarkable piece. I identified with it instantly!! Sometimes attachments in our lives are more harmful then good. Letting go is so difficult but could be such a hidden blessing. Thank you so much for sharing this. You are truly a great writer. If you do not mind I am adding you to my friends list so I can read more!!!

  • Ashwin on Feb 22, 2009

    I really loved this. Your prose is unassumingly captivating. And your narrative powers are impeccable. I was really drawn to the description of your new discoveries in life through the unforgettable drive. Congrats, friend.

  • Moses Ingram on Feb 28, 2009

    This is great, I hope there will be more. Your writing is excellent.

  • Katien on Feb 28, 2009

    Lovely piece of writing. It captures that wonderful feeling of moving on, and it does feel like the beginning of a great book.

  • Kaylee on Mar 2, 2009

    Wow I really liked your story and enjoyed reading it.

  • Kate Smedley on Mar 3, 2009

    So when’s the next part? Keep deleting any negative comments, they are probably jealous … I really liked this, thank you.

  • Colleen Ranney on Mar 4, 2009

    You are a great storyteller. This article about your journey into a deeper truth of you… left me with a smile on my face.(thank you) A true story of conquering and endurance! I am happy you found your way.

    Great writing!

  • Sakuragi on Mar 5, 2009

    Good for you Peter! It takes a lot of courage to leave everything behind and just start over somewhere else. I have a feeling you\’ll become a successful writer and prove to everyone that your decision in leaving was the right choice.

  • Mona Kennedy on Mar 6, 2009

    I thought I would never get to the bottom! Wow! What great reviews. I agree, agree, agree. I left a hell too! Elating! You inspire me. Words can not express how much. You opened another closed door to those awful locked doors in the abyss of my subject of consciousness. Thanks a million. love it!!

  • Denise Kawaii on Mar 9, 2009

    I also have had several moments of starting over in my life, and the feeling of relief is just as you described. Bravo!

  • starrlove9 on Apr 7, 2009

    This was so good!
    It makes you stop and reflect on where your coming from and heading off to a new set of experiences.
    Loved it

    tina

  • writergirl77 on May 9, 2009

    This is beautiful.. love your work

  • goodselfme on May 21, 2009

    You are a true Pioneer, my friend. Well stated and shared.

  • Sir Poetry on Jun 12, 2009

    This is fantastic. Thank you for sharing this work. It is a very good read.

  • Emma Green on Aug 12, 2009

    I really enjoyed reading this piece, I definately think you should progress with it and turn into a novel for sure. It was such a great write, well done

  • Dena McCusker on Aug 24, 2009

    I really enjoyed reading this piece of yours.. great descriptions and very well written!

  • jesse lennon on Aug 27, 2009

    Getting through the first three paragraphs,I didn’t know what you were talking about,but I read more and understood where the story is going and the feeling it posses.

  • LoveDoctor on Sep 28, 2009

    Very well-written piece. I truly enjoyed reading it. I am sorry for the disappointments that you faced along the way, but like you said you didn’t break and I am sure that you are a lot stronger in character.

  • ShadowPsychos on Apr 30, 2010

    awesome post :)

  • Joseph Scott on Sep 2, 2010

    Touching piece.. Thank you for sharing :)

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