I’m the luckiest guy I know. I have randomly found myself in amazing places with amazing people more times than I can count. I have somehow made it through 43 years of questionable choices relatively unscathed. By rights I should be probably be in far worse shape than I am now.
I was 22 years old in 1995 when I randomly decided that participating in the Work Abroad program would be a good idea. Though I was probably most inspired my friend Jason McGee who was headed to Northern England to study, I was also quite taken with all things England, especially the music.
After a few false starts I eventually landed in a youth hostel in South Kensington (London) and somehow managed to snag my dream job in a record shop called Music & Video Exchange.
I met my Canadian comrade Brad Badelt at the youth hostel and created a lifetimes worth of hazy, doctored memories in 3-4 short months. I had a visa to stay and work for 6 months, but as it turns out the wages at my ‘dream job’ weren’t enough to live any sort of reasonable (read: bearable) lifestyle and London in the winter for this southern boy was unfamiliar and unfriendly. I packed my bags and flew home a few months early on December 24, 1995.
For weeks after arriving home I had a terrible fake british accent. For months, years, decades to come I told and retold stories to anyone who would listen of squat parties, bullying bobbies, missed opportunities with beautiful girls from exotic places… and what it was like to be broke and lonely in a foreign place.
Everybody has their story. We trade them over pints and get all misty over half remembered escapades and long forgotten names. Not everybody gets to have adventures like this, and even fewer get the opportunity to go back and retrace their steps and try try to reconcile with memory. Again, I’m lucky.
Last month I was lucky enough to head back to London and have a 20 year reunion with Brad. It was the first time we’d seen each other since. We walked and talked and scratched our heads quite a bit about who we were, why we made the decisions we made, where we did (and didn’t) go… Brad is the same awesome guy I remembered- he now has a wife and child, lives in Vancouver and freelances as a journalist. He even lined up a few interviews and we worked together on a piece about a recently re-discovered Shakespearean theater (more on that when/if it gets published).
It was a great time in London plus a side trip to Edinburgh where the weather was perfect after this insane summer we’ve had in the southeastern US.
As a side note- I changed things up for this trip and decided to try one camera/one lens. I picked up a used Fuji XT-1 after drooling over them for a few years now. The small form factor saved my back from it’s regular fits while traveling and I really, really enjoyed finally getting to see what all the fuss is about with this system. I get it now and am happy to have a new walk-around camera that has my imagination working overtime.
Here are a few more of my favorite shots- most are jpegs right out of the camera. Thanks for playing!