I’m leaving New York.

(Okay, not, like, immediately.)

I’m going to leave New York in about 100 weeks.

100 is a cool number. It’s nice and round. But as a number of weeks, 100 is curious. It’s light years away, and yet, simultaneously, right around the corner.

100 weeks is just under two years away. And that means there’s a lot to do.

It was August 15th, 2015, when I decided I was going to leave New York. I was with my dad, and we’d been driving up the Pacific Coast Highway. We’d been looking out at the ocean…



…when dad started talking about leaving New York.

Dad left New York.

He drove a 1968 Thunderbird. Green.

Dad left New York in 1973, as he explains it, because he had to. As I understand it, leaving New York became something of his odyssey.

In New York, Dad had a job, a girlfriend, his parents, a life. He left all of it and moved to Guadalajara, Mexico.

He had to become a doctor. By 1973 Dad was in his 30’s — too old to be accepted by most any decent American university. But he had to become a doctor.

To hear Dad explain Guadalajara… it’s kind of fantastical. He found love, faced death, made friends and enemies. Of all the experiences I’d listened to dad delineate in the prior 48 hours — his tour with the army through the Vietnam war, starting his medical practice, finding and falling in love with Mom — to me, the journey through Mexico stands out. It’s undoubtedly shaped him into the man, age 74, he is today.


He had to go.

And so, I have to.


I have to go.

My parents live in New York. My friends, my work, and my life are all here. But I have to go.


What makes an odyssey?

In a sense, I’ve already had one. In 2011 I gave up my girlfriend, my friends, my business, and my entire life and drove out of town. (In a 2010 Hyundai, blue.) Where dad drove south, I drove north. Where dad was too old, I was too young. Where dad was locked out of schools everywhere, I was accepted to the world’s premier academic institution. But Harvard Business School was no odyssey. In many ways, it was more jungle-gym than jungle. I went, but I never felt I had to go.

What makes an odyssey, then? The dictionary suggests long wanderings and hardships, especially when marked by notable experiences.

I’m certain the reality of Dad’s odyssey was much more mundane — if not lonely, grim — than the tales he regales me with now, forty years later. That’s okay. I expect it to be lonely. I don’t expect to find love. I don’t expect it will be easy. I don’t expect to return with stories of escapades from the brink. I don’t expect much. I just have to go.

I think what makes it an odyssey, in the Petersel tradition, is that you just have to go. And it helps that when you just have to go, you have to go South.

So I draw the line here: I’m going to go to South America in search of an odyssey.


100 Weeks.

I am leaving New York. I have plenty of time, and yet, I don’t have much time at all.

100 weeks is just under two years away. And that means there’s a lot to do.

Where should we start?

Leave a Comment.