What if you could relive your past… and choose a different future?

Drew is broke, working a dead-end job, and on the cusp of his thirties, wondering where it all went wrong. When his beloved grandmother passes away and leaves him with his uncaring family, he passes out and finds himself in what appears to be a mysterious new plane of existence. He’s soon forced to relive his past, from his childhood with his unstable grandfather to his twenties with a family that constantly asks for money, all while he hits the grind as a rising podcaster, makes bold moves for fame and wealth, and struggles with alcohol.

As Drew phases in and out of vignettes from his past, he sinks deeper and deeper into a life he thought he understood and confronts his own mistakes, revealing new dimensions to his relationships and choices. Meanwhile, the enigmatic forces behind his journey have their own plans for him…. Will he identify his blind spot in life and move forward on a new path? Or will he remain who he’s always been?


Excerpt from U: Journey To Yourself © Copyright 2023 T.D. Roberson

Ch.1 — Cold Pill

I open up my bank account balance. That shit says     “-$23.82.”

My credit card payment is due. My rent was due last week. And I got fired yesterday. I walk over to the fridge. It’s empty.

I knew it was empty before I walked over here but I thought some groceries would magically pop up. I’m at that point right now. I haven’t eaten in a day and a half. Thirty-six (and a half) hours.

That’s my day so far.

I pick up my keys from the couch I was able to “buy” with one of those apps that basically lets you rent things on layaway. I stop, the ring of my keys hanging off my finger, to think about the last time I heard anyone use the word layaway…

A few weeks before Christmas in ’05 when I tagged along with my grandma to buy ornaments. That feels like so long ago.

I’m having an existential crisis and a financial crisis. In the back of my mind I’m panicking. What am I gonna do?

What the hell am I gonna do? What the fuck am I gonna do?!

I’m in my car now. The engine’s just running in the parking lot while my head’s on the steering wheel.

An old song is playing on the radio. Then, I hear a knock on my door.

I lift my head up and realize it’s my landlord. She has a piece of paper in her hand. She sticks it onto my window, then starts walking away.

I turn my keys to stop the engine and I hop out of the car. She put a three-day notice on my window. I don’t know why my first name, Drew, felt like it was the biggest word on the page.

“Claudia, what the fuck?!” I yell at her. “You could have just put this shit on my apartment door!” As soon as the words come out of my mouth they sound dumb.

I hope she’ll just take this one on the chin and walk away.

She starts turning around. “I thought it would be less embarrassing if I did that than put it on your door for everybody to walk past and look at.”

I rip the three-day notice, throw it, and get my ass back in the car. What am I gonna do?

I still have a full tank of gas thanks to a gas gift card I got as a Christmas gift last year. Can’t buy food though because my cards are over their limits.

It’s about nine o’clock at night. I’m driving down the Pacific coast Highway right now trying not to find a reason to drive off a cliff. My phone is sitting in the passenger seat. It’s ringing. It’s my girlfriend of a little over a year who’s been pressuring me to marry her for the last six months.

I’ve spent three of those months thinking about a way to get her to break up with me. I’d do it myself but her name is on my apartment.

I let the phone ring. The way I’m feeling right now, I can’t hold a conversation with that girl. I put my foot on the brakes. The traffic light is red. My head is pounding.

What the fuck is my life right now?

My phone lit up again. I peep out of the corner of my eye and see it’s an email from my alma mater. Which reminds me my deferment is up in two weeks.

I can feel my chest getting hot. I roll the windows down and scream. I feel like my head is gonna pop off. I slam my fist down onto the dashboard and yell, “FUCK,” with so much emphasis on the “U” that I think one of my lungs is gonna come up.

My phone starts ringing again. I look over and see my cousin’s name. Not my favorite cousin. The cousin who calls to ask for shit at the worst possible time. He’s funny though.

Something tells me not to pick up the phone. I pick it up anyway. “What’s up?” I say, trying to mask the depression in my voice.

“Hey, where you at?” Small talk. Great. “Driving right now.”

“Perfect. Dee just called”—my other cousin—“and he said Auntie passed out.” “Who passed out?” My heart is pounding.

“Auntie Donna,” he said, nervous. Donna is my grandma. “I’m on my way!” “She’s already at the hospital right now.”

“Send me the location,” I said, making a right off the PCH onto a cross street so I can turn back around.

I plug the address into Maps. The light turns green. I’m in such a panic worrying about what happened that it takes me a second to realize I’m blasting the song “All Night Long” by Mary Jane Girls. My grandma’s favorite song.

Tears are rolling down my eyes at this point. Angry tears. Frustrated tears. The road is getting blurry. I realize I’m not breathing anymore. My stomach gets tight. I can feel myself ready to vomit.

I pull my car over to the side of the hill, open my door, and throw up.

My heart’s pounding like a drum. I turn the corner and the only sound I hear is a heart monitor. My grandma is in a hospital bed surrounded by a doctor, two nurses, my cousin, my aunt, and my mom.

Tears are running down their faces.

“IS SHE ALRIGHT?!” I realize I was yelling after I see everyone in the room jump, startled. My aunt turns to me and she’s balling. I feel the tears rolling down my face. My ears are ringing. The doctor is talking but I don’t hear anything.

I see my mom hysterically crying. What’s happening right now?

I’ve never felt so useless in my life. I’ve never felt so out of control. My knees are wobbling. It feels like I’m about to fall.

“Is she…” My mouth is so dry it’s chalky, like my body is trying to force me not to say the rest. The doctor nods in agreement.

I walk over to my grandma in a panic. I move my mom out of the way while my cousin is trying to keep her on her feet by consoling her.

I look at my grandma’s face and all I can think about is how much time has passed. She looks so much older than I last remember.

I’m holding her face in my hands. I see a droplet land on her face. My body is so numb I don’t even realize I’m still crying.

This can’t be happening right now.

“Please don’t leave me,” I say while kissing her forehead. I know my request will be denied but I can’t help but hope that something will come out of the sky and bring her back. I’m looking at her face and every memory I’ve ever had of her is rushing through my mind. All of the love, sadness, and especially the anger.

I feel my chest getting hot.

“HOW COULD YOU LEAVE ME HERE WITH THEM?!” Yeah, my neuroses are flaring up. She is the only link I have left to my family. The only person in my family that I enjoy being around.

Now, I feel alone with people I haven’t had anything in common with since high school.

I’m making this about me. Because it is about me. Death is about all of us. When the generation before you dies, you just get bumped up the assembly line. You get the burdens they left behind. You have to step up. You have to grow up.

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