In January of 2015 I quit my job to travel the world. It wasn’t just any job. I worked for one of the most respected companies in the world. It was the only job I can truly say I was ever proud of and I wasn’t just there to make a paycheck. But after a little over two years, things turned sour and I was forced to make a decision: continue working for a company I love but doing I job I grew to loathe, or hop on a plane and see where the world takes me. If the name of this blog gave you any indication, I took the latter option.
The day I gave my notice to leave I immediately sent a message to my Australian friend Marcel: “I’m coming to Australia!!” Now, I hadn’t seen Marcel in 5 years. I met him in the Czech Republic where he was traveling Europe with a car. He invited me and the two friends I was traveling with on a road trip across Eastern Europe after talking to us for only 5 minutes. Though he is one of my best and closest friends, that trip was a long time ago and we only kept in touch through Facebook messages every now and again. But I was really terrified that I made the wrong decision about quitting my job and I thought visiting him would calm my fears a bit. Plus we made a promise when we parted ways in Germany 5 years ago that we would see each other again someday. My friend Will, who had been kidnapped in Thailand two months before (that is definitely a story for a rainy day), decided to join me on my travels to get relief from his recent PTSD.
Marcel happened to have a week off before “Uni” started and took me on a second road trip with Will this time. We went from Melbourne to Adelaide. If you make this drive, take the Great Ocean Road, and do it in at least 3 days and 2 nights and camp along the way. The road snakes along the gorgeous rocky coast and has endless sights to see including The Twelve Apostles, Grampians National Park, Blue Lake (a lake formed from a volcanic crater), and all the Aussie animals you can imagine like koalas, echidnas, cockatoos, and kangaroos. We even almost ended up hitting an emu with our car as it fled across the road.
After hundreds of horribly sung versions of road trips songs like “Fuck Her Gently,” 3 nights in a tent, and about 5 slabs of VB, we finally made it to Adelaide. Though Adelaide is quite metropolitan with expensive strip shopping downtown, it still has an amazingly relaxed beach vibe. It was hot in February and the beaches were long and almost completely empty. It seemed to me a bit smaller than Melbourne and kind of reminded me of a mini LA with better transportation. It was also quite expensive. I judge how expensive a city is on how much a pint of beer costs at a bar, and we were paying around $8 or $9 for a beer.
We spent our last night with Marcel by breaking our budgets on those pints, making up drinking games, and singing songs. It turned out the hostel we stayed at, Glenelg Beach Hostel, has a stage for live performances. Being a musician and a huge fan of live music I was into it immediately. A tall blonde Australian guy took the stage solo with an acoustic guitar as a crowd slowly started forming and singing every word of the 90’s punk rock cover songs he was doing. He put more energy into Green Day’s “When I Come Around” than all three members of the band themselves ever could. This guy commanded attention, and he had us all.
Towards the end of his set he was so on fire with his songs and the crowd that he stopped in the middle of playing Pennywise’s “Bro Hymn” to ask someone in the audience to tap along with the kick drum on the empty drum set behind him. With my friend Will literally pushing me forward, I couldn’t have teleported to the stage faster. Now, this was a simple enough task for anyone that can count, but I happen to be a drummer and I’m very familiar with that song. In fact, I was surprised to hear so many punk songs I thought wouldn’t be popular outside USA. I didn’t know what kind of music Aussies listened to before this trip, but I quickly learned that they love to tell you “AC/DC is Australian!!” So I humbled my new singer friend with his request by keeping a little rhythm on the kick drum for him as he continued with the song. Then I added a little high-hat. Then a quick drum fill. Then I gave him a nice beat with some snare. This made him so distracted that he stopped singing for a second to turn around and look at me with a monster grin his face. By the end of the song we were fully rocking out. My cymbals were flying and he was belting it as hard as he could. We did the classic gigantic ending with me throwing multiple fills and him facing me thrashing on his guitar as we finally slowed down into a final crash. The crowd went wild!
The hugs and high-fives were endless when I walked off stage. I live for traveling and playing music, and that was no doubt a peak experience. Still buzzing from the performance high, the singer, Adam, and I got to talking about music and life. He ended up offering to take me on tour with his band around Australia, which would have been a dream come true. But I broke one of my Golden Rules Of Traveling, and politely said no. I had SE Asia to see over the next couple weeks and this trip was supposed to only be a month long. I ended up not coming home for 4 months, and I will now always wonder what would have happened if I said yes to going on that tour. I woke up the next morning to see this awesome Facebook post by Adam:
The best part of all of this wasn’t just that I got to spontaneously play live in Australia. The best part was seeing Marcel in the crowd
from behind the drum kit. We are from two different continents, met each other on an an entirely different continent 5 years before, and there I was playing a song for him on stage in Adelaide. I
never imagined that would have happened in a million years. The entire thing never would have happened if I was too scared to pull the trigger on quitting my job, and at two weeks into the trip,
this was literally the beginning of the biggest adventure of my entire life. And yes, we finally got to play knifey spoony in Australia: