How 3 Seconds Lead To 3 Years That Changed Everything

Posted by on Nov 10, 2011 in Featured, Matador U Assignments | 5 comments

“Come on baby, just turn over…please you have got to get moving, no matter how cold it is outside. I know you don’t want to leave home, but its time to go to work.” I spoke those words as I had every morning during the Chicago winter, not to my car, but to my body as I lay in bed. I check what the weather is like outside by simply taking the covers off myself, “Another beautifully frigid day”. I get up and get dressed for work, after the first 3 layers of long underwear I decide that should be sufficient for the day’s activity and head outside only to repeat my earlier plea, this time to my car.

I wonder why  that memory has overtaken my mind just now as I sit in my quaint little cafe in charming Buenos Aires. I decide to start writing this story, wondering how what started as such a normal day could lead me to where I am now.

Argentina Map

Allow me to explain…”The Argentina Effect”

About a little over 3 years ago today my first taste of Argentina was finished. I had undertaken what at the time I thought would be just a vacation with my best friend Jason. What I ended up getting was an experience that began to change nearly every long-term goal I had, every desire, and even my perceptions of what I wanted from my youth.

In September of 2008, we had set off for adventure to the faraway land of Argentina. We expected an awesome vacation, instead it affected changes in us that would last a lifetime. Exposed to a new culture, a completely new social reality, and feeling the sheer excitement of being 20 years old, and 8,000 miles from everything we knew and loved, our minds were quickly “blown”. Not only was our location different, our entire situation lacked any semblance to our lives back home. Daily I would have this realization, turn to Jason and ask “Dude, do you realize that we are literally a world away from home?”.

And now here I am, sitting here, drinking my cafe, no longer the far-flung tourist, but as the local who lives down the block.

Mental Train Wreck, Nearly Literal Car Wreck

As I drive to work, my mind is running in more circles than there are snowflakes on the slippery, dangerous mess we call roads in Chicago during the winter. Still fresh from my adventure in Argentina, I can’t stop thinking about all of possibilities that my eyes have been opened to. Just as fast as those thoughts come, they are pushed aside by my growing feelings for a certain girl with whom mutual attraction has been growing. As I navigate my way from job to job, what began as two completely separate trains of thought, unexpectedly begin to converge and become one.

As our relationship is growing, it is being followed by a growing desire to return to Argentina and explore more both of the place, and myself. “Before I would never have thought twice about pursuing this relationship, how can simple vacation begin to make me feel differently?”

I get out of the car heading towards the building, bringing my squeegee, extend-o-pole and my bucket of what, while appearing to be a diabolical concoction of chemicals, is simply washer fluid which wont freeze in the -20 conditions, I begin cleaning my final windows for the day. As I am standing in over a foot of snow, performing the intricate “tango of the window cleaner” (wiping off your frozen snot, using your subzero metal equipment to clean a piece of glass in under 20 sec before the water turns to a sheet of ice, and fighting off hypothermia) I continue my train of thought from the car. As the train advances further and further down the line, the destination is beginning to become frightfully apparent to me.

“If I go for this (the relationship), I can pretty much kiss going back to Argentina goodbye.” Before, I had been willing to give up anything to have the girl I thought was the greatest in my world. But now, my world has been expanded in all directions past its previous boarders. “Is life with her really the best I can do? If I never go back will I always wonder myself the proverbial, what could have been?.” The “jerkality” of my thoughts becomes apparent almost immediately, but that doesn’t cause the questions to go away.

Its then, right then and there, that I formulate the perfect solution to my problem. Standing in snow up to my knees, with my face all but frozen off, and wondering if I will ever regain feeling in my extremities, I have an epiphany, what if I go back, and to find the answer to that question? Over the next two minutes, with my mental capacities flying on the afterburners, I begin crunching the numbers. “How long do I need to find what I am looking for? When could I leave; What prevents me from jumping on a plane tomorrow?

Strangely enough, the technical aspects all came together quite fast. I came up with a feasible plan, and a price tag for it, after that all that remained was the most difficult question; “Should I do it?” There have only been a handful of instances in my life where I have been so sure of something that I have had to confidence to overcome my normal “way over thinking” response. This was one of them. Within 3 seconds I had my answer. But more it was than just an affirmative answer, rapidly I found it becoming more of a single-minded determination to make it happen.

I bought my tickets that night when I got home, in the morning I hired someone to run my business, then threw my own going-away party, and finally left the next day for three months.

As I went, I scarcely could have known exactly what the aftermath of this choice would be. By time it was all over, everything had changed, and I knew nothing would be the same. There was no going back.

Playing Guitar In Plaza de Mayo (Slider)Was It All Worth It? 

Picking up my cup of coffee to enjoy its final drops, I take a look out the window, my previously homely surroundings suddenly become foreign again. In many ways, I have truly made this place “home”, but sometimes I think back fondly on my life back home. When I think back on the last three years; all of the changes, trials had and passed, friends loved and lost, the adventures and heartbreaks, I wonder if I had not acted on what at the time was quite deservingly termed as a crazy idea….”Where would I be today? Did I make the right choice?”

After mulling it over for a while, I finish my cafe and head down to the street, and there I find a certain special girl of mine. As we walk hand in hand down the lively Avenida de Mayo through the heart of “mi buenos aires querido” I put my arm around her, and look into her warm and tender eyes, with a smile on my face I shake my head a bit, mumbling the obvious answer to myself…


  1. Lovely.

    • Thanks Harm…when are you coming back to visit? We can always use more Cheeseheads… 🙂

  2. Hey there Nick! So glad to see you posting again, how else are we supposed to check up on you? =)
    Very nice article, I particularly enjoyed the description of what you did for work…sounds strangely similar to some of those frigid weekends on the roof!

    • Thanks Brandi, i’m glad somewhere out there actually reads some of these crazy things I write!

      How is the fam doing these days? Everyone keeping themselves together?

  3. Bien escrito che!

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