Utah Ex-Pats

We were in Moab for the week. Moab’s population is about 5,000 resident souls and 40,000 tourists. Just about everyone you don’t see working a job is likely from somewhere else. We went to dinner at the Spoke restaurant for a second time. We typically eat at the bar—it’s way more social. We took our seats next to two young guys finishing up their meal, and one of them noticed Ben’s T-shirt with an Ohio motif. “No WAY! You’re from Ohio? Where?”

“Yep. Columbus.”

“NO WAY!!!”

I wanted badly to say yes WAY back, but I didn’t. “Yes, we are from Columbus. What part of town do you live in?”

“Clintonville.” And he told us what street he lived on.

I smiled. “I used to live in Clintonville.” And I told him my street. He lived a few blocks away.

So it was we met Matt and his buddy Andy, both from Clintonville. They had taken off to travel the west. Usually guys who travel to Moab do so to climb, bike, or cycle off road. Matt admitted that he wanted to climb, but he’d injured his hand just before they left so the best he could manage was some bouldering. “Eight stitches,” he said, holding up his thumb. He and Andy were aglow with a good meal and a beer or two. Andy allowed as they wanted to see and do as much as they could before they had to settle down and get real jobs. Matt said he’d quit his current job before he left Ohio . “It was just a gig, not a real job. You can get a gig anywhere.”

They were lots of fun, then they paid their bill and after a quick selfie with us, disappeared into the evening. If they are reading this, I surely hope they are doing everything they possibly can before they go back to Ohio. You guys have my email, so let me know how you’re doing.

Me, Andy, Matt and Ben having some laughs at the Spoke Bar

After Matt and Andy left, a different guy took the seat next to me. I’d had a glass of wine and felt especially chummy, so I turned to him and said “Are you from Ohio?” He smiled and said “Yep. I’m from Lorain.” I almost said NO WAY! What are the odds of that happening? We chatted for most of our dinner. He never offered his name even though Ben and I introduced ourselves. I’ll call him Joel. He looked like a Joel. He’d moved to Moab with his wife, because they wanted to live somewhere that was more like a vacation. The marriage didn’t last, but he stayed in Moab. Ben asked what Moab social life was like. “Well, I’m here having dinner alone and talking to you.” He ordered a veggie burger that was topped with bacon and a fried egg, accompanied by grilled vegetables. Talk about a conflicted personality. It had been some years since he moved from Lorain. He asked how Cleveland was doing, and I told him it survived the RNC, so I guess it’s OK. Joel grew quiet after eating his burger. Maybe his arteries clogged. He paid his bill, wished us well and left.

The next day at our campground we met a couple who once had jobs in the financial district of Manhattan. They were probably in their 30’s. We met when they brought their dog to the dog park and he and Ryder were having a grand time. They told us woke up one morning and decided that they were done with it all, the high-pressure jobs, $7,000 a month rent and NYC. They quit their jobs, cancelled their lease and bought a truck and an Airstream trailer, got rid of the excess stuff and headed out. They had adopted the fog along the way. They’ve been out for about 8 months now, and have no immediate plans other than to “just live and breathe for a while.” While we were talking, another couple came to the dog park. They had also quit their jobs, sold their stuff and have been on the road since. “Everyone told me we were crazy to abandon our jobs in our prime earning years, but we found better work and a better life on the road. Not sorry one bit.”

Interesting that in the space of a couple days we met so many people who had decided to take to the road to shake up their lives. It seems there are lots of seekers who just aren’t Interested in the whole job-house-security thing. I feel fortunate to be the age I am and still able to travel and take a few risks, but at the same time I’m a little wistful that I didn’t take more chances when I was younger and more physically resilient. So, if you’re wondering if you should chuck it all for a while to see what happens, maybe you should.

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