Today marks 1 year and 5 months since I left my home of Washington, DC, to travel the world. And now I’m back, but not for long. My time abroad has changed who I am and where my life is headed.
The previous 5 months saw me drop this site as a priority and my status updates on Facebook, Instagram, and others connected to the Nomad Photographer dwindle. I found a semipermanent home on the tiny island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand and spent 6 months there, first working as a freelance divemaster and later a full-time staff member both diving and working on in-house marketing.
I started dating a lovely British girl who has constantly challenged my pronunciation of the words tomato, basil, and aluminum. And we started saving for a trip to Hong Kong, Japan, and home to the United States to visit and show her all my favorite places.
Then my one of my greatest fears that I had, while preparing to leave my family and friends, came true. I have always been someone who worries about many things. My anxiety levels at times can be debilitating and I always think of what can go wrong before what can go right. That singular fear was that I would be too far away should something befall a close friend or family member and that I couldn’t be there to support my people.
At the beginning of May, my older brother, Colin Brown, died in his sleep. I’ve never taken this forum to a deeply personal level, but I felt that now was the time to write about it.
My brother and I had a complicated relationship, owing to the fact that he had severe autism and every interaction for us was different than how my other siblings and I would connect. He was 2.5 years older than me, and yet our whole childhood, I had to act the older brother.
I’m still struggling to put into words how I feel, but I know at that exact moment that my dad called with the news, I wished I was back home and not living my dream halfway around the world. I could get home in a day I told my parents and while they were heartbroken they encouraged me to keep to my schedule.
We planned a memorial service for late June and they reassured me that since our family is spread across North America, rushing home wouldn’t make any difference. They wanted me to be happy and enjoy life to its fullest.
And that’s been my biggest learn over these last 17 months abroad. I’ve met people from all walks of life, from 19 countries, countless creeds and religions, and the one things they have in common is a desire to live. We have such a short time here and every moment can be so fleeting.
I’m going to keep traveling, keep exploring, and keep taking it one day at a time.
Miss you bro.