I met the good friend who modified my life on the Burning Man pageant in 2014. I had been provided a free ticket, in change for being a part of the workforce that helps construct the camp the scale of a metropolis, deep within the Nevada desert.
At 18, I’d moved from my quiet residence city in Cumbria to check in California and since then I’d gone into advertising and public relations. By the point we met I used to be 24 and had twin citizenship, a stable group of mates and the power to drive like an LA maniac.
On the primary day, amid the warmth and chaos, I made mates with Leslie – a ravishing Texan with a golden tan and blonde hair. She appeared completely different from the remainder of the ‘burners’ – not simply due to her comfortable, southern accent, however as a result of there was one thing in her eyes. I couldn’t clarify it. It was like magic.
Whereas constructing the camp, we turned quick mates and I learnt of her nomadic way of life. Leslie was in her early 30s, however appeared a decade youthful. We swapped tales and jokes, and would sing our favorite songs collectively as we labored late into the evening.
The pageant was as loopy as I’d imagined. Leslie was my tour information to this new world of chakras, artwork and hippies. Her life was constructed round seasonal work, educating yoga or managing lodges in attention-grabbing locations. When the pageant ended, my real-life commitments began once more and I returned to the company world in Los Angeles with the lingering feeling that there needed to be extra to life than the everyday nine-to-five.
Over the following few years, we stayed in contact over WhatsApp and I adopted her travels on Instagram. We might often meet when she returned to LA and I’d get a short reminder of what I had felt on the pageant. Sitting at my strip-lit workplace desk, I lived vicariously by way of her travels in Equador and shortly got here to grasp that the look in her eyes wasn’t magic – it was freedom.
Then, in 2016, I discovered that she had died within the Amazon rainforest, throughout an ayahuasca ceremony with a shaman. The small print had been unclear, however one thing had gone terribly improper. Her physique was introduced again to her household in Texas, however I wasn’t capable of get day without work to attend her funeral. I used to be devastated. She’d added a lot to my life and I by no means obtained the prospect to inform her how a lot she meant to me – or say goodbye.
It broke my coronary heart, however at the very least I knew that she had lived each second to its fullest, which was greater than could possibly be stated for me.
Impressed by her fearlessness, inside a 12 months I went freelance, doing advertising for small companies and entrepreneurs. Giving up my common wage was scary, however with out kids or a mortgage, I had little to lose and rather a lot to achieve. My plan was to work from anyplace, so I booked a ticket to Bali with the intention of studying to dive and surf once I wasn’t working – an act that I hope Leslie would have been pleased with.
As a ‘digital nomad’, I’ve since labored from Indonesia, Switzerland and Italy. I’ve made like-minded mates, and one silver lining to the pandemic appears to be the promise of extra remote-working alternatives. As worldwide borders started to shut, I briefly returned residence to be nearer to my household, however I’ve already deliberate my subsequent transfer – to Berlin – as soon as restrictions ease.
I’m so happy that I finished dwelling the life anticipated of me – and I wouldn’t have executed it had I not met Leslie.