Why I Chose to Go on Remote Year

Remote Year

Late on June 16th, my friend Chris and I headed out to Tasca Do Chico bar so we could get a taste of fado, a form of Portuguese song that originated in Lisbon and is characterized by what the Portuguese call saudade – a feeling of deep, irreparable loss. Chris described saudade as a feeling that changes you forever and you’re never able to be the same again.

As we waited for the next singer, I peer around the bar. The walls are covered in framed pictures of the owner and what I can only assume are famous Portuguese people.

One picture suddenly caught my attention. I called Chris’ attention to it.

As he confirmed what I saw, we slowly realized that we were sitting in the very bar where Anthony Bourdain had tried to showcase an often overlooked side of Portuguese culture. Tears welled up in our eyes. It was hard to believe that those stories would be gone with last week’s news of his passing. Soon enough, the next fado act started and, in that song, we finally understood what suadade meant.

This moment reminded me of why I wanted to go on my current adventure. As some may have noticed, I’ve chosen to embark on an ambitious journey with Remote Year on the Denali program. I’ll be traveling to a different city every month for 12 months with the same group of people. It caught many people by surprise. But, to those who know me, it was no surprise at all.

Unlike what some may assume, I wasn’t trying to escape or find closure from a previous life chapter. I wasn’t even looking for a drastic life change. Well, I kind of hoped it would be… but, it didn’t pan out that way – and, that’s okay. I frankly had a pretty cushy life in Brooklyn: stable relationship with my long-time partner, secure job, awesome friends, lovely home… Why on earth would I choose to leave my comfortable lifestyle?!

To me, it’s really all about living your best life.  And, I wanted to continue striving to be the best version of myself that I could be. Remote Year checked all the boxes in allowing me to pursue the fullest life I could possibly live. I was willing to lose my current job so I could gain this once-in-a-lifetime experience to build myself socially, professionally and personally.

Everyone joins RY for different reasons, but it’s always more than just to see new places. By living and working in many foreign places, there’s no doubt that we’ll be pushed to embrace new perspectives, build greater understanding and force ourselves out of our comfort zone more than ever before. The timing couldn’t be more perfect as we’re inundated with depressing news of our current political affairs. I needed to go out there and remind myself that there’s humanity in this world. It’s an experience that will keep paying back forever. And, an experience that I’m incredibly grateful to have because I know not many get the chance to do this.

So, to come full circle, Anthony Bourdain had always said and portrayed it best. He had such a beautiful way of showing how travel unifies us, no matter who we are or where we’re from. In the end, we all share the same thing – the human condition. So, I’ll close this post with some inspirational words from the man himself. May he rest in peace.

Photo cred: @heycassie

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