I don’t know if I can properly articulate what this year has been for me. I’ve sat down a few times at this point, scratched my head, and starred bleary-eyed into the depths of that blinky cursor where the words are supposed to come out.
This year has contained both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. That statement seems a bit trite, but it couldn’t be more accurate. I’ve been debating what exactly I want to share, as I know that the finer details will leave me in time, and this is kind of my little mile marker that will be left for whenever I decide to gaze backward at some future point.
In January I was able to visit Cuba. It is a place unto itself. I have never been anywhere like it in my travels through Latin America. There was a certain urgency when I decided to visit due to the prospect of travel policies reverting to a previous state thanks to the effervescent, newly elected U.S. administration. Groan.
I will never forget standing against the Malecon having a conversation in broken Spanish with a man in his mid-twenties named Peter. I shared my rum, and he shared his unfiltered cigarettes. We spoke about life and it was this simple, intangible moment. It wasn’t a photo to look at, or a trinket to take home; it was exactly what I came to Cuba for.
I’m not entirely sure when my fascination with South America began. It’s one of those places that burrowed its way into my mind and I never really shook it. I remember purchasing a map of South America and hanging it on my wall for inspiration. I would spend hours just looking at it, reading the town names, tracing the rivers and mountain ranges with my fingers. The thought of transporting myself to somewhere so far away, so different from anything I knew, filled me with excitement. It still fills me with excitement.
I ended up spending about two months traveling through the Patagonian region of Chile and Argentina. This particular journey was a game changer.
Santiago, Chile. Valparaíso, Chile. Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina. El Chaltén, Argentina. Bariloche, Argentina.Touring
It felt a bit odd to not tour much at all this year. I deliberately turned down some gigs in early 2017 in order to do some traveling. Wise career move? Probably not, but to hell with it! There was Patagonia needing to be walked around in, and I’m glad I did it! As for the latter half, I will expand on that in a moment.
I was fortunate to be able to spend time on the road with Bing & Ruth, Young The Giant, and Brothers Osborne this year. The shows with Bing & Ruth were particularly special to me, and sonically unlike anything I’ve ever toured with. I suggest checking all of them out!
The Not So Fun Stuff of 2017
Now, the subtext to all of the above travel is that I left a woman in order to be able to do it. Talk about a conflicted feeling. I felt like I had made the biggest mistake of my life when I left. I even tried to return at one point, and she told me no. Towards the tail end of my time in Argentina, I experienced two thefts in close succession, and I finally got to a point where I was like, “Ya know what, I think I’m good. It’s time to come home.”
Upon my return, I pursued her and pursued her, and she finally let me back into her life. I can’t explain how happy I was when she did. This is when I started to realign my life’s priorities to show her that I was serious about sticking around and making a life with her. I turned down a solid road gig, got myself into UNC’s Master of Accounting program, and followed through by getting a full-time job in Nashville. In my mind, I was righting my wrong. It felt like things were finally moving in the right direction again. A very polar opposite approach to the way I had been living life for the past ten years. It was a massive adjustment, but I felt happy. It felt like the beginning of a new chapter.
And then, the week I began a new job and the program, she arrived in Nashville and revealed a previous marriage she had never mentioned in 9 months of conversations. I can’t explain how shocked I was. Suddenly, I had no idea which way was up or down. Happy memories suddenly felt like deceptive half-truths. The trust in the relationship was gone. I had realigned my entire life to be with someone I didn’t actually know. Talk about a feeling like no other. It broke my heart. I’ll never understand why she wasn’t up front with me to begin with. Be honest with a partner!
As far as painful emotional experiences go, this one sat me on my ass for about a good six months. Creative output dropped to zero as I hobbled through my day-to-day. Thankfully, the good juju has slowly started to return and I’m pursuing things I’m legitimately interested in again. I remain optimistic that things will continue to improve over time. I’m no longer in that MAC program, and I continue to create space in my life to let the right things, and people, back in.
Some lessons are learned the hard way, and this was certainly one of those lessons. A reminder to trust my instincts, and not to barter my true interests to appease the heart of another. I knew that to begin with and I didn’t listen to myself. Bonehead Bill, at your service. I figure if I keep marching to the beat of my own drummer, my RV co-pilot will appear when I least expect it; or not, and that’s okay too.
It’s easy to share scenic vistas and curate a certain perception of what your life is to those casually stopping by via social media, but that isn’t real life. This feels like a bit of a reach compared to what I normally put out there, but this experience was an important part of my year, and I share it in an effort to never repeat this mistake ever again.
I’m not really sure what next year contains, but do any of us? I never could have predicted the twists and turns this year contained. My singular goal in 2018 is to encourage others to travel. The function of man is to live, not to exist.