When I was still working at the bank, one of my best friends decided to quit his job and embark on a bike journey from Berlin to Beijing. It was while living and working with him, we formulated our plans to leave the corporate world and embark on alternative ways of living. While I haven’t left yet, he has been on his journey for over 8 months. We’ve kept in good contact over this time and he was aware that a group of his friends were planning a road trip to Burning Man.
While I prepare for my own journey in Europe and Africa, I have gotten used to the fact that I would not see one of my best friends for at least a few years. That was until a series of events transpired to bring Brandon home!
It was 2am. My friend Milagros just dropped me off. I kicked off my shoes and opened my laptop. Brandon James was on Skype! He had been cycling in eastern Turkey and was crossing the border into Georgia. I hadn’t spoken to him in weeks. The only communication we had was a text I received that read:
“fuck yea, u guys are doing Burning Man, im considering booking a fl”
It cut off after that!!! I assumed the last word was “flight”, but to where?. Brandon has been taking an epic transcontinental bike journey from Berlin to Beijing. Was he seriously considering taking a break from this epic journey to come home and join his friends at Burning Man?
After receiving this text, our friend Alvin, Brandon’s mother, and I had spoken about splitting the cost of bringing him back to the US for Burning Man. All this was pure speculation. (Our conversation was amongst ourselves without Brandon). We thought the chance of it working out was incredibly low. Brandon wanted to get to India before winter and since he was biking in rural areas without internet access, nobody had talked to him in weeks.
And then this:
Holy crap, Brandon liked the plan. He was in! Without hesitation I pulled out my credit card. I started looking at flights on farecast.com. I asked one more time, “Are you 100% down?” He responded, “Yes!!! That sounds perfect! This is going to be ridiculous! You have no idea how I feel right now. There are no words.” I asked him, “What did the rest of that text message say?” His response is below:
I then purchased a ticket to Burning Man. I called his mom at 3am to tell her the news, while still chatting on Skype. This was happening. It was actually going down. It was getting late as my eyes drooped and my body craved rest. I quickly fell asleep.
When I awoke, I felt like I had the craziest dream! Was that a dream last night? After being on the road for over 8 months was Brandon James really coming back to go with us?! A bit groggy as I awoke, I opened my laptop again. My stomach jumped as I looked at the screen. Skype was open showing the conversation. Firefox had a tab open with the purchase confirmation for a round trip flight between Istanbul and Chicago. Another tab had the purchase confirmation for a ticket to Burning Man. I couldn’t believe my own eyes! The dream was reality!
Earlier that day our friends discussed how great Brandon’s epic journey was going. Through his blog, facebook, and personal emails, we had all had heard such incredible stories. We all agreed, “Brandon isn’t coming back for a long long while,” We joked about that text and how it was such wishful thinking that he’d actually return. We agreed we were all getting way ahead of ourselves, and that the likelihood of him coming home was near zero. 8 hours later his flight was booked.
Less than 48 hours after Brandon sent me a text that had “no basis in reality”, it became a reality. I went from thinking I wouldn’t see one of my best friends for a few years to seeing him in just 2 weeks!
I’m incredibly excited for this road trip, and can’t believe how quick things can change. You never know how things will turn out or how events that happen today will shape events in the rest of your life. Sometimes the best things in life are those unplanned bursts of spontaneity. There was a worry of how certain people would view this hiatus from his template life challenging journey. In the end, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. You live life for you.
So it’s official now. Breaking news!!! Brandon James takes break from epic transcontinental bike journey to partake in the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Welcome home man.