Last time I met him, he was a young lad with so much dream and so naively young. We went to a small town college together. I left and he stayed in that town. He made decent money from working at a high end restaurant in town. But he dreamt big. He wanted to get out of the small town and go somewhere big, do something big. He wanted to be an important person in a corporation somewhere. He wanted a busy lifestyle, just like the people he saw on TV. Everyone needed to have a Bluetooth ear piece so they could talk while they walk, because nobody had time to do things only by one. The last time I met him, we were drinking in his apartment, celebrating him getting a job for a big corporation out in a big city in the West coast. His stuffs were almost all packed up. We sat on his faded red couch, holding red solo cups. We both knew once he moved out of this small town, nothing would be the same anymore. Big cities changed people. Jobs changed people. Time changed people. And people changed people.
I was happy for him. Very happy. It was the same feeling as if you saw a bird in a cage. It was pretty and convenient when the bird was in a cage right next to you. But you knew deep inside, it had wings and it deserved more than this. It deserved the sky. If you love it, you’d feel happy when it got to fly out into the big wide world. And boy, did I love that man?
So that image of him sitting next to me on his faded old couch was the last time I felt so close to him. It was the last time I saw the young, eager, naïve, Mid Western guy. It was the last time we crossed paths as similar people in life. And I would always remember that.
One day years later, I came to visit him in the big city in the West Coast. We had brunch at a fancy resttaurant right in the city center because we could afford it then. We could pay for it all: entrees, drinks and even appetizers. We were no longer the type that drank from red solo cups anymore. We drank from glass glasses that someone served for us. He wasn’t the only one that left that small town for financial freedom of a bigger world. We talked about us in the past and we talked about us then. He worked at that big corporation for a while before quitting. He moved to a start up and then another start up. Turn out, the busy life of people that wear Bluetooth headphones wasn’t the one he was looking for anymore. Turn out, nobody wanted that life. People ended up there. Nobody should dream of that life. It was exhausting. Now that he learned we lived in this life full of restrictions and there was no way out, he yearned for freedom, badly. He moved from big company to smaller and smaller companies, hoping to gain more and more freedom, hoping to have more and more of his time back to himself. But he tried and tried, even trying to work completely remotely from home. But none of that was the true freedom he searched. So, he told me, he was going to try the van life. After taking so long to get to a big city, he realized he didn’t want any of it anymore. If breaking out for freedom mentally didn’t work, he would literally leave these restrictions of bricks and walls of this modern world. He would live in a van. He would drive and stop where he wanted to while working remotely from the back of the van. Sounded like a dream. I told him exactly that “Sound like a dream”. “Yes,” he said and he told me he would commit because he was certain he would make this dream came true.
When he said that, I thought of all the other dreams that he had turned true. None of those was enough. And I didn’t blame him. He was an ambitious man and nothing should be enough for an ambitious man. When you were twenty something, nothing should be enough. Anyone should strike for me. And that was what he was trying to do. He was smiling, talking about this van life he was about to do. And I realized he was still a bird trying to fly out further and further. When your whole life was baout looking for freedom, then you would still keep going to the extend to look for it. Knowing him, I knew he would keep going and going, until the human society tried to lock him back down again. Until then, I hoped he had his freedom and he was happy.
I was happy for him. Very happy for him.