road coffee lens / part one: where did rcl come from?

In 2012 I had a “quarter-life-crisis” which led to a re-assessment of what I was doing with my life.

At the time I was working in a full-time office job, temporarily*, because I was in credit card debt and I wanted to not be in credit card debt. I also wanted/needed to earn and save money to travel again. To get out. Again.

In 2011 I had left my University town and my job to go to America to work at a summercamp. This was to be my ticket to the world. I had decided that the camp job would earn me enough money to do a little travelling across the USA before settling in British Columbia in Canada for 6 months over the winter WOOFing** on a farm. Then I was to scrape whatever I could and continue to either WOOF my way down to South America or somehow get to Asia. Sounds great, right? “I won’t be back for 2 or 3 years” I told everyone.

Justin getting carried away at the 4th July dance, also my birthday.
After camp, after a trip to the Niagara Falls, I took a train from NYC to San Francisco via LA. An amazing experience that I will expand on sometime.

That plan retrospectively failed when I didn’t save the money I had planned during the summer at the camp, and spent too much of what I did save between the East and West coasts. The plan actually failed when I got to the Canadian border and the Canadian border guard decided not to admit me entry into his country. Gutted, I practically begged to be at least admitted for a short amount of time – lest I be a complete failure. The young guard, I think regretting his decision but unable to go back on it, allowed me 10 days in Canada. I was to leave before but not after. I had to give my temporary visa to the border control at my chosen exit airport or be deemed an illegal and be hunted, I assume, with Mounties and white wolf-dogs. So, disheartened, I continued my Greyhound ride to Vancouver. I apologetically called the farmer who was due to pick me up the next morning and enjoyed a bitter-sweet week in the amazing city that is Vancouver. As I just mentioned, I was bitter. I also had no cash, just credit. Those two things don’t mix. I had maxed out my card in a week on enjoying what I could while I was there (and buying a very expensive, cheapest available flight home to England).

So, six months after I left the UK I was back home, broke and despondent.

Jump to 2013. I’d been at my office job for over a year and, actually, everything was good (outside of my brain). I was spending more time with my brother and his friends (who became my friends), I had begun mountaineering, climbing and bouldering (through which I met a life-long friend), and I got to spend more time with my other close friends (who I hadn’t spent much time with since University ended and everyone disbanded from each others lives). I was also living at home with my mother, which was good. My father was working 6 weeks abroad, 2 weeks home, and so she was quite lonely. Looking back, I am actually happy the way things worked out, and thankful for the time I spent with her especially.

Hiking Snowdon in typical Welsh weather. I wasn’t prepared at all. It made me invest in a proper shell jacket which I still own and use to this day. Moral: expensive, good hiking gear is worth it.

I was depressed though. I hadn’t been creative (nor had any creative motivation) since my adventure to America in 2011, and I didn’t know what to do. My new best friend, nicknamed Gnuzy, helped me the best she could to work through it all. I skyped with other friends while at work and planned my escape during the hours I sat at my computer despondently wishing away the hours of the day***. I climbed. I tried to start writing, which didn’t last. I played video games. Drove to Southampton from Reading a-lot and generally the time went by quite fast.

I let my hair grow.. Jon Snow wannabe.

What got me through it all, along with the above mentioned activities and two winters in Maryland working for the camp previously mentioned, was my exit strategy. I had cleared my credit debt in 9 months, and had a financial goal that would take another 6 or so to achieve. Then I had three options, the most favourable being moving to South Korea for a year, travel/work/save and then move to London with what I had left and get the fuck on with something creative (like a lot of my good friends were doing, making me continually envious). To pat myself on the back I gave myself 6 weeks in South East Asia travelling, and also, for a mix of nostalgic, financial and love of the USA reasons, I got my old camp job back for the summer post SE Asia and pre-Korea. I was set.

I had also started watching more YouTube than I ever had; mainly vlogs. I uploaded my first YouTube video in 2008 for a friend for his birthday. It is hidden. Since then I hadn’t even thought about the site, but I started to watch videos – mainly vlogs, and decided I wanted to do that. So, I thought about what I could do, and along with my exit strategy, came up with road coffee lens.

To be continued.


*of course..
**World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms – although I was actually HelpX-ing – essentially the same idea, but not restricted to organic farms.
***Don’t get me wrong, I did the best job I could do in the office – but a lot of the things didn’t take as long as they should/could have, so I often did things and had time, or had time and did things before whatever it was, was due.


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