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I would be dishonest to just gloss over the years I was with my first wife Nancy as if they never existed, although in some ways that would be nice if I could. They were very expensive years financially and emotionally, but one of the most important pivots in my life occurred because of her: I stopped drinking. She is solely to thank for that. Or at least her parents were, who arranged everything as usual.

In the name of brevity I won't go into details here, but here's the short of it: Nancy was from Charleston, SC and went to USC, like me. We knoew all the same people, but for some reason, her being older than I being one, we had never crossed paths in SC. In Atlanta, Ga., when I had been dating a girl named Hope, I met Nancy through a mutual friend I lived a few miles from in Atlanta, who also dated her for a while, and whom I would later end up living a few miles from in Asheville, NC. I was oblivious to that fact until I had already moved there, amazingly. Jon Eggena was his name. Big Auburn fan, and he still lives in Asheville.

Nancy and I met when she was with a girl named Lisa Tobias. That's who I wanted to ask out, but I was informed that was a bad idea, and that she was crazier than Nancy. So Nancy and I hit it off at a party at Jon's one weekend, began dating, and about 3 years later, I was proposing to her in San Marcos Square at midnight in Venice, Italy. Nancy always refused to believe it was Lisa I had intended to ask out.

So on New Years Day 2004 we moved to Beaufort, SC and rented a gorgeous mansion in the historic district, across from the Castle. 511 Craven St if you ever want to check it out. I'm sure it's still there. We moved from there after being married in an elaborate ceremony May 15, 2005. I bought us a house and fixed it up. The marriage went South fast, and we were only married 18 months before separating. We had a year-long tiring divorce, which wiped me out financially. That was a reason I went to graduate school, in fact. I had looked at getting my MBA at USC when in Bluffton, but didn't see the point for what I was doing at the time.

Nancy's dad was very successful, a surgeon, a formeer engineer, and head of Hilton Head Regional oral surgery, with his own practice on HHI as well. That initiative and smarts didn't trickle down to the kids. Nancy worked retail selling fabric, and her brother was a historian in the Lowcountry. Both were basically waiting out their inheritance.

I last saw and spoke to Nancy upon selling the house I bought us in Bluffton in 2007. I heard she was dating a plasterer in Charleston but I think since her mother died she's just hanging out in Bluffton with her dad while he works and helps run the community. Amazing how far the fruit fell from that tree. They were all very short, incidentally. Nancy was the tallest in the family at 5'2". She had a very southern accent as well, which at times sounded contrived it was so heavy. I think it was part of her "brand" now. Her father, from Gallatin, TN, had a very heavy accent, but it was a pure Tennessee accent, not the crazy SC hick thing Nancy had going on.

Something that I think about often is that when Nancy was about to leave me she took me to her parents house for them to all gang up on me. Seriously. And her mother was leading the bunch making some unbelievable accusations, which Nancy just went along with. I learned after our divorce she was diagnosed with dementia and fell into poor health and died on my birthday, 2015. I sort of think her dementia was showing itself that day.