Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
- John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”

Those of my beloved readers who have been following my plans since the beginning know that my itinerary has changed several times along the way. My very first draft itinerary was to spend last summer in Scandinavia, fall in Western Europe, and this winter riding around the Mediterranean before heading off to cross Asia in the spring.

Then I had a minor – okay, maybe moderate – health scare, forcing me to delay my departure by six weeks. Then the Arab Spring uprisings began, putting most of the Mahgreb (Islamic North Africa) except Morocco off-limits for all practical purposes – I like adventure, not needless risk. Then I decided to spend my birthday at the Nowhere Festival (Europe’s teeny-tiny Burning Man-style event in northern Spain in the middle of July), which meant jettisoning my plans for Scandinavia.

Then, curiouser and curiouser things happened:

First off, while at Nowhere I met a great band of like-minded freaks – much like my tribe in Seattle, but scattered far and wide, a European Burner Diaspora. Then I had to go and fall in love with Europe as a whole, and southern (Mediterranean) Europe in particular. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I was – at least on some small level – looking for a new place to live.

And then, most curious of all … while sitting in the sun talking with friends one lovely afternoon at Italian Burning Weekend, I asked my friend Andrea if he could give me a job in his software company. After the merest pause, he said “yeah”. Over the intervening months, a slow conversation has continued between us, resulting in the latest new plan:

Come March, I’ll be moving to Barcelona to live and work. Exactly what I’ll be doing there is still not entirely clear – but something in the software world. Maybe slinging code again, maybe a client account manager, maybe something else.

This means that my plans to cross Asia are, at least for now, off the table. Asia isn’t going anywhere, and I’m pretty sure my love of motorcycle travel isn’t either, so perhaps this will happen at some later date. I hope so.

It also means that I’m not planning to return to Seattle as my home. Maybe some day, for life is long and I have a most excellent tribe of chosen family and friends there. Sometimes it pains me to face this reality – Seattle was my home for 15 years, longer than anywhere else, and I miss my people there every day. I have people there I love so much I turn into a big mushy mess if I think about them for too long. I miss my comfortable knowledge of the place, my routines, my favorite coffee shops and bars and restaurants.

This new reality isn’t carved in stone yet – there are still a few hoops to jump through – but it does represent my current course. Things could change – with me, that wouldn’t be such a tremendous surprise, I suspect. Logistical challenges to living abroad for an extended period may present themselves. I may decide that in truth I can’t bear being away from the place and people which have been my heart’s home for so many years. Events yet to transpire may force me to return to the States. However, that is all conjecture and tomorrows.

To my friends and loved ones in Seattle and New York and San Francisco and throughout the U.S.: once I’m settled, please come visit. Barcelona is lovely! Europe is grand! Nowhere is waiting for your smiling dusty love! And most importantly, I miss you and would love to play in Europe with you.

All of you: whether you’ve been completely supportive of me from the start, wrestled with conflicting emotions or laughed and thought “He’s crazy in the coconut! (That boy needs therapy)” – thank you. I mean that most sincerely: I couldn’t have made it this far without you. It’s been a wild ride, and it ain’t over until I’m gone. I don’t plan on that happening any time soon (touch wood), so stick around and enjoy the ride.

29 Responses to “Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes”

  1. Alex says:

    Holy guacamole! Barcelona! We haven’t lost a friend, we’ve gained a vacation spot!

    I think that’s brilliant, my man. Wonderful wonderful news!

  2. cracker says:

    You are an inspiration Stuart.

  3. Courtnee says:

    Envious, and very pleased to hear you’ve found your new home!

  4. lily says:

    wow. WOW. Congratulations! I am stoked for you! (and for those of us that get to visit!)

  5. Istvan says:

    Nice choice my friend! :)

    Not that you have any trouble meeting people, but if you want to make new connections feel free to reach out. I lived there for 3 years and still keep in touch with lots of folks.

    See you around!

    • stuart says:

      Istvan, I’ve got a good handful of people there already, but am always interested in meeting more. I’ll ping you once I get settled. Or maybe you and Katie can just come visit, and introduce me to these folks. :)

  6. Bucky says:

    I can’t say I am surprised, my friend! I yearn for Europe literally every day. I know if I made even the briefest visit, I would stay again.

    Congratulations on following your heart, and exploring yourself in a new context.

    Be forewarned though, the saying is true: You can never step into the same stream twice. Living in Europe will forever change you, and Seattle will never feel quite the same again.

    But big hugs await you on your next visit!! :-)

  7. Leila Dawn says:

    Stuart, What lovely news! It’s so wonderful that you’ve been able to flow with the river and actually -live- life.

    I envy your accumulation of new friends; my angst about being able to do that has been a real tether for me. Now that I have just returned to wet and cold Seattle from three weeks in a warm, sunny climate that suits me, I must once again examine, “Why do I live *here*?” Now I can add your story as inspiration.

  8. Shawn says:

    Amazing what happens on a road trip. Good for you and enjoy.

  9. Matty says:

    As I mentioned to you before you left, I knew you weren’t coming back. Good luck my friend. I may crash on your couch in Barcelona. You rule.

  10. GeminiTrix says:

    congrats Stuart! We miss Seattle terribly AND there is so much more to see and experience out there…

  11. Kevin says:

    Congratulations Stuart. I’ve followed your journey with interest and will continue to do so.

  12. Daniel says:

    Congrats, Stuart! I’m excited for you!

  13. WanderMom says:

    Fine so. We’ll just have to come see you in Barcelona. Consider it planning-in-progress.

    Hugs + very, very best wishes with your new adventure :)
    Michelle + Murph

  14. Marco says:

    Tanti auguri! I may come to visit in May. Trying to talk my brother into a motorcycle trip through France/Spain/Italy. Ciao, Marco

    • Mara says:

      Oh Marco ! Sound like an awesome trip! Can we join you?

      Stuart- nice choice! Will try to visit soon! If not then I will be in Vienna for work in sept with Tay in tow.

      Your journey sounds like mine ….in the mid 90′s I set off on a round the world trip of six months and it ended up being half way around in two years, but I was the opposite… Started in Asia and never made it to Europe! :). Ended up living and working in Nepal for 6 months at the end.

    • stuart says:

      Marco, if you come over for a trip like that, I’ll do my damndest to join you on the road for a day or two. :)

  15. Kristen MM says:

    I love Barcelona and would happily come sleep on your sofa for a week for the opportunity to indulge in two of the most wonderful things in the world (you, and Barcelona). Congrats on being flexible enough to make what feels like the right decision each time you are presented with a fork in the road, even if it doesn’t match with the original plan. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  16. Z says:

    You’re extraordinary *and* crazy in the coconut, Stuart. I look forward to seeing what you and Barcelona bring each other, and look forward to coming to see you en Espana. And I’ll also miss you, old friend.

  17. Pixie says:

    Yes. I love this. Beautiful town, beautiful you. xoxox

  18. Gabriel says:

    Wow. This sounds like a fantastic and wonderful thing to do. Shaking things up, and really being a world citizen. I will definitely miss you. I wish we’d spent more time, and I’ll try to take you up on your encouraging offer to come visit you there.

    I’m thrilled for your adventure and for your finding (or hoping to) happiness on this trip. This sounds really cool.

  19. Alyssa says:

    YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!

  20. Sandro says:

    Cool! I like to visit you in Barcelona too ;)

  21. Ginger says:

    Well, my dear, I am very much excited for you. And we are probably no more nor less likely to visit you there (yes further away, but oh such much more exciting a trip to plan!)

    HOWEVER, your youngest nephew is NOT the least bit happy with you right now.

    Don’t let it git you down: If he didn’t love you I don’t suppose he’d care so much.

    • stuart says:

      Ginger, maybe in a couple of years that youngest nephew will be old enough to come visit for a little bit on his own. Then, once he returns and tells the rest of you how cool it is, maybe y’all will come visit too. Finally. ;)

  22. Ginger says:

    well…teach me to type while laying down without glasses on GET not git…

  23. Carrie Shaw says:

    This is very exciting! Congrats! Can I come?