The Catalyst: Losing the girl
Jackie and I shared many extrodinary moments in many extrodinary places. Photos: Jackie / Isaac Stone Simonelli
Dice Travels, like most ideas that border on possible insanity, was born from a very personal, dark moment in 2011.
It was August and my fiancé and I had just moved to Phuket, Thailand when the entire foundation for my life, the guiding force of my future, my loadstone, my north star didn’t simply shift, but ceased to exist.
With no clear way of determining what direction in life to take, it seemed any energy expended in making a decision was wasted.
None of it mattered. Equal happiness would be gained from working my way into serving as a war journalist in Kabukba, as becoming a PADI Dive Master and working on the hedonistic party island of Phi Phi Don.
The reality might not necessarily be that way, but the feeling was indifference. The sort of indifference that plagues the world in general, but this was indifference not to something greater than myself, but to myself. And if you don’t care about the direction of your future, it’s desperately difficult to muster up an opinion on what to wear or have for lunch.
The catalyst was simple: we broke up.
Though we had agreed to move to Thailand together, the reality of the situation was that I was just game for whatever, as long as we were together. So, I followed a woman, an extraordinary one, to Thailand. It is safe to say that most decisions I have made in my life were the direct results of a woman, or women.
With no money (we’ll get to this later), no friends (locally) and no focal point to my life, I was simply a train wreck battling suicidal thoughts with noon-time beach runs in the tropical heat.
But before I start basking in undeserved sympathy, I should be clear: it was my fault – completely my fault. Without a doubt I was a cunt; an honest cunt, but a cunt nonetheless.
Jackie was, and to my knowledge still is, an extraordinary human. She was smart, fit, adventurous, kind and had eyes that glittered with a forever-smile. I know this sounds like the rose-tinted glasses that we wear when looking back on those we love. However, I stand by it – and I have without a doubt my own issues with the lovely lady, because, well, nobody is perfect. But the bottom line is that she was smart enough to throw away a bad bet.
We had been engaged once before and I had cheated on her (I told you I was a cunt). We had broken up, but found our way back into each other’s arms after studying abroad in Ghana together.
This time, the story wasn’t too different. I could have remained silent about what had happened on two separate incidents several months prior to our departure, but Jackie and I were building a single life together. Doing so on the rotten foundation of deceit and infidelity seemed inadvisable, to say the least.
So one day, in a long string of days that spelled the end of my career as an online poker player, I was mashed at the tables. I was in deep and down for the day – it was an all-in situation during an aggressive headsup (one-on-one) Texas Hold’em match… and I came up short.
It was the end of the road. After being a moderately profitable player for nearly two years, I was chucking money off a cliff at a frightening rate.
Hours were spent reviewing hands, talking with coaches and evaluating the situation with my backer, whom I had to bring on for a split of the theoretical profits given the change in my financial situation earlier that year.
Our move to Thailand came after online poker’s Black Friday, which saw the United States government seize my modest assets (and every other US poker player’s) at the time. However, the cash was my invaluable nest egg of investment in online poker. Just USD8,000-10,000, but all the money a college-debt ridden kid, such as myself, had managed to save and reinvest. The cliché would be to say all my eggs were in one basket, but of course that wouldn’t be true. Money is just a small aspect of the big picture, a lot more was invested in Jackie – in us.
So I dumped this unreasonable amount of money – beyond my stop-loss – and just spazzed out. I love me, but I couldn’t handle being who I was becoming. I met Jackie at Konjokiet International School, where she had found a job.
In a strange open-air, jungle-themed restaurant next to the school, I came clean. I purged my guilt-ridden system. We then got on the same motorbike and drove home.
She was destroyed. I was destroyed. It was something that was never fixed, though we spent the rest of the year living together with me desperately trying to mend it.
But, she’s smarter than I am.
So there I was with no money, no friends to console me--even if it wasn’t deserved, it was needed--and no clear plan for the future. There wasn’t even enough money to go out for a beer… try making friends in a new place when you can’t even take someone up on an invitation to join for a drink.
Why not roll the dice and see where Fortuna, Sango, Serendipity and Blind Faith in the natural order, or lack of it, would lead