BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – I didn’t kill myself. But I thought about it a lot.
I got the shakes, too. And insomnia. And I lost my business and my job.
I spent thousands on therapy, AA meetings, church tithes, self-help books, and pills. Lots of pills, including Prozac, Abilify, Seroquel, and Ambien.
I also lost a lot of weight. And people told me I seemed distant when they tried to talk to me. At one point, my friends were so worried about me, they frogmarched me to a shrink’s office. (The shrink gave me more pills.)
I’d tried everything. I was still in agony. And I couldn’t see a way out. I was beginning to lose hope…
Two years ago, Kate approached me and suggested I leave Delray Beach and go straighten out my head. She said she’d look after the kids for me.
In retrospect, that offer was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. It’s not hyperbole to say it saved my life. I just couldn’t get out from under the rock in Delray Beach.
So off I went… to Scotland.
Kate, meanwhile, was doing great. Since we’d gotten divorced, we hadn’t seen each other much – only on the kid-handover days every other weekend – and we weren’t friends. We rarely spoke.
Some divorced couples stay friends and celebrate their kids’ birthday parties and Christmases together. We didn’t.
But it wasn’t a bitter or acrimonious divorce. We just drew a line through our marriage and went our separate ways. She met a new man. They had a solid relationship. And the kids loved him.
So I went to Scotland, hiked up some mountains, and got blown around in some gales for a few weeks. Then, I went to South Africa, found a place on the beach, and went surfing for a few more weeks.
First stop: Scotland
It was while I was in South Africa that Kate brought up the idea of a road trip. She was thinking about hiring a camper, she said, and taking the kids on a trip by herself to see national parks.
“I should probably learn how to handle a gun for self-defense while we’re on the road,” she added.
So I said, “Maybe I can come with you? I’ll come back to Florida. I’ll be your driver and navigator and tour guide and bodyguard and luggage porter, all at the same time.”
She thought about it for a few days. Then she wrote a text to me that just said, “Okay.”
So I rented a van online, ordered a tent and some other supplies from Amazon, and flew back to Florida. A few days later, we all went to Miami to pick up the van, and off we went. We now had 35 days to drive around America together…
(It was the first time I’d been in a car with Kate and the kids in four years.)
Here we are on the first day, with our graffiti-covered van…
Picking up our rented van in Miami
Well, what else can I say? That road trip around America was awesome. We camped out for 35 nights in a row.
We visited five or six national parks, including Grand Canyon, Zion, Yosemite, and Bryce. We camped among Redwoods.
We felt the heat of Death Valley. We swam in the Colorado River, and we gazed at the stars over New Mexico.
We made campfires and told stories and played cards and roasted vegetables. We watched freight trains beating their way across Texas. We watched the Blue Man Group in Las Vegas. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and bodysurfed in the Pacific Ocean. We saw bears and rattlesnakes and elk…
It was a perfect trip. Just absolutely perfect. Kate and I had long conversations about love and divorce and kids…
Things between us were so easy… so easy that we started talking about going on another trip… to Europe… for three months.
You know what happened next. But our story isn’t over yet…
– Tom Dyson
P.S. If you’re wondering what Kate’s boyfriend thought about her going on a road trip with me, join the club. I was wondering the same thing (and lately, some of you have been asking me about it, too). It was none of my business, though, and I didn’t push Kate to talk about it.
Later, Kate told me he was very supportive and didn’t want to obstruct her happiness, even if it meant letting her go camping with her ex-husband.
“Besides, there is zero chance we’ll ever get back together again,” she told him…
Readers ask Tom about gold stocks… storing food for a crisis (since “you can’t eat gold”)… and writing for a living…
Reader question: Thank you for your postcards. I’ve been a regular follower since at least India, although I missed the earlier ones. I think I was also in Hong Kong about a week after you were, and I can confirm for your other readers that your reporting from the ground in that case was a lot more accurate than CNN’s.
Here’s a question though… You repeatedly say that all your savings are in gold but you never seem to mention gold mining or royalty/streaming stocks. Is there a reason why?
All the best with Kate. I can’t think of a better present the both of you could possibly give your children for the rest of their lives than getting back together again.
Tom’s response: We own both gold mining and streaming stocks. I don’t talk about them much because the information would be too technical for these Postcards. I’m trying to keep it very simple.
Reader comment: While you’re stashing the gold, etc., you may want to stash some food storage. You can’t eat gold when there’s no food available.
Tom’s response: I’m not expecting any kind of “Armageddon” or “apocalypse” scenario. And I don’t think there’ll be any interruption of the food supply. (Prices will go up a lot, but I don’t think I’ll ever wish I hoarded food.)
They’re going to devalue the dollar and all paper currencies. They will probably come up with a new way of greasing global trade that’s not centered on the dollar. And there will be a few painful recessions, worldwide.
Gold will become the most popular and exciting investment on the planet, like bitcoin was in 2017. And that’s as far as it’ll go.
Reader comment: So you say you will be writing to make a living now? Please be careful! You have spent two years traveling and bonding your family back together in a unique adventure. You have made literally thousands of friends (and that is exactly what we feel like to all of you, family friends).
You have the “knack” to write in a way that is both informative and entertaining, opening up all of your lives and inviting us in, to be along with you and see you, warts and all, a REAL person with a real family. We KNOW you, possibly more than you realize.
Now, life starts over again and with that the plain… the ordinary… process of making a living and just being “normal.” It will be SO easy to fall back into old habits and patterns.
Yes, you can write… and you should! But I’m concerned and reaching out to you as a friend (because I do feel like one) that perhaps you should only pursue the financial advice writing as a side job, and not your main thrust. It could be SO easy for the markets and the excitement of the game to suck you right back in!
Please proceed with caution. I suspect that if you were to start writing about how to braid hair that you could do it in such a way that we would still buy it and be entertained and educated!
You’ve been given a rare and precious gift… A chance to start over with a beautiful wife and family… Don’t let down your guard!
Tom’s response: I love this email. Even though I don’t know you personally, I feel you genuinely love and care for us for when I read it.
I started writing these Postcards as a way to let my friends and family know that we were safe.
But for reasons I still do not understand, they have hit a nerve and triggered an avalanche of letters like yours wishing us well, congratulating us, supporting us, encouraging us, and worrying about us.
(We have hardly received any snarky or critical mail. Perhaps someone in the Florida office is censoring them for me?)
Your letter – and all the others before it – motivates me in a way I’ve never felt before as a writer. I’m unbelievably grateful for your sentiments. And so is Kate. Please don’t stop writing us at [email protected].
Oh… and I’ll take your advice on protecting the bond we’ve fought so hard for.