366 days. I can’t believe it has been that long.
One year ago today I flew out of Melbourne. My relationship with the corporate world, rocky at the best of times, was over. No more suits. No more meetings. No more corporate bullshit, and no more steady paycheck.
I landed in Thailand. I got very drunk. And then I took a long, deep breath and started living.
I had wanted to return to South East Asia from the minute I left it. I had wanted to be my own boss for at least a decade. I had wanted to be a writer since high school, and to travel since I first saw a plane.
Now I had the chance to do everything I had dreamed of. All I needed to do was make it work.
Sink or swim, Dave. Sink or swim.
So far, I’m swimming. Sometimes gracefully, sometimes flailing around like a drowning rat, but my head is still above the water.
I’ve launched another website, which is going even better than expected. I’ve pitched, hustled and networked like my life depended on it – because, in some ways, it does. I’ve woken up early and gone to bed late, pulling eighteen hour days and turning down invitations, just to get things done.
Glamorous? No. Necessary? Yes. Awesome? Absolutely, because I’m building my perfect life.
That shit doesn’t come for free.
As my relationship with the cubicle was ending, though, another one was beginning. A much better, far less expected one.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone that lives on social media, it started with a single tweet just before I left Australia. Little did I know that those 38 characters would define the shape of my life for the next twelve months. Tweets turned into instant messaging. With the remains of my apartment strewn around me, I sat on the floor while we talked about nothing – and everything – for hours.
Eight days after I arrived in Chiang Mai, Lauren did too. We met at the airport. Our anniversary is next Friday.
We have spent nearly every minute of the last year together, and somehow it still works. Seventeen countries, fifteen train rides, eleven flights and more lumpy beds and cold showers than I care to remember.
It hasn’t always been easy. We’ve argued in Austria, bickered in Bali, clashed in Croatia … and that’s just the start of the alphabet. Travel can be tough sometimes.
When we’re lugging our backpacks up another hill in the midday sun and realise we’re lost yet again, I suspect we both want to push each other under the nearest bus and just keep walking. Ten minutes later though, when we’re checked into our hostel and have a cold beer in hand, all is forgiven.
Of course, for every hard time, there are hundreds of great ones. We have an incredible, wonderful life together, where we get to wake up beside the Mediterranean one month and the Indian Ocean the next. We’ve seen more breathtaking sunsets in the last year than we can count, and spent time with beautiful people that expand our minds and horizons every time we talk.
I’ve been to places this year that I never thought I would see, done things I never thought I would do. I’ve eaten home cooked pasta overlooking Lake Como, tapas in La Coruna and crickets in Chiang Mai. I’ve ridden a scooter around northern Thailand and sailed a yacht around southern Turkey.
I’ve visited countries torn apart by war, and areas of incredible natural beauty. I found a temporary home, and many other places that could be. Even though I work harder and longer than I ever have before, my choices and my time are my own. This never seems like a job. I get paid to do what I love, with someone I love, where I love to do it.
I guess this is what freedom feels like.
I was talking to my Dad yesterday, and mentioned that I had been on the road for nearly twelve months.
“Would you say this has been the best year of your life?” he asked.
Yes it has.