As I considered the job last April, I really had to start a list of Pro’s and Con’s for moving 8,000 miles away from my comfort zone. It was the chance of a lifetime to explore the world. I would be able to meet hundreds of new people from all walks of life and locations. I would expand my professional knowledge to include the international stage. I would rack up copious rewards and loyalty points. I have the chance to get Expatriate Tax breaks. On the other hand, it meant I would be leaving my friends and family. I would have restricted days in the States. I would have to skip reunions, graduations, bachelor parties, weddings, and anniversaries. I would have to put my beer goals on hold (Saudi Arabia is a dry country).
Ultimately, I made the choice to take the job and move. As I went, I found out I actually had some friends from old in this part of the world. My cousin, Andrew, was living and working in Dubai. My best friend from high school, Calvin, was working in Bahrain. Then one of my best friends from Wisconsin took a job in Dubai. It was like the stars were aligning. After a couple months, I found out an additional CON to working internationally. Sure missing weddings is tough, but that day is all about the couple. Bachelor parties are fun and can be amazing, but honestly, a party is a party. The Blue Suede Brews (beer club in Memphis) is helping me by saving some good beers for my return in May (cheers). But the hardest thing of all came about in October: one of my friends from Memphis had a tragic accident. This rocked me to the core, and there was nothing I could do. I tried to focus on the surviving friends. I prayed for family and friends.
Since then, things have been in a different scope. Life is real. It has adjusted my view on my travels. For the first few months, everything seemed surreal, almost like a video game. After the accident, the trips started to feel authentic.
I spent the next couple months exploring some life-shaping locations. It was funny because every trip I was taking seemed to shadow or follow my friend Jeff. We never could quite sync up our trips. But I would check into locations, and sure enough I had one friend that had visited… Jeff.
I took a trip back home for Christmas to spend time with family. Then I celebrated New Years in Aruba with my mother. On the way back to Saudi, I took a long layover to explore Paris. The whole trip sunk into my soul like an artist’s true dream. It was a couple hours later when that dream was transferred into a nightmare. I was in Doha awaiting my final leg to Dammam, when I got the call informing me that my friend, Jeff, had taken a sudden turn and the outcome was gloomy.
That sinking feeling of helplessness and hopelessness returned. I cried. I cried until I was dehydrated. I did not know what to do. I prayed. I yelled. I cried some more. The next month ripped me out of my fun travel world. Even though I was taking trips still, every trip made me wish I had spent more time traveling with Jeff. Every sunset would have been better if he had been sitting next to me cracking jokes and beers with me.
The internet has a terrible way of making words and phrases viral. One word that finally made sense to me was FOMO. The fear of missing out. Every other instance seemed wasted on me. Sure I missed out on some parties and else, but I was making my dreams come true. Today is day of Jeff’s funeral. Due to tax restrictions, I am unable to attend. I am missing out on one thing I can never make up or fix.
So alone I sit in my hotel room. Crying again. Praying again. Wishing I could make some kind of sense of this whole situation. Instead I will just share some pictures:
Obviously, we shared a lot of favorite things: good times, country music, travel, freedom, best brojs, cold beers, and America. I know I will make more friends and my current friendships will continue. But this loss is rocking my world right now.
I don’t know what exactly to say. I miss you terribly. It all feels like a bad, mean joke. I feel like the next time I hop over to Dubai, you will be there with your goofy smile and American flag bandana telling me it’s time to go out. But then I realize this isn’t a giant nightmare. This is real life. This pain is real and does not go away. I will not see you for a while. We may not be able to travel together or hang out any time soon, but I want you to know, I will take your spirit with me. I will strive to see the rest of the world and bring the type of joy you always brought with you. I know if you had access to social media in heaven you would have already posted a picture of your view with a caption saying something like “it’s a terrible view from here.” I love you so much. I am so glad we got to spent the last couple years being awesome together. Until it is my time, save me a good spot up there.
Your friend always,
Craig Trevor Weichmann
In all of the dark emotions, I don’t know which song to post for you. I vacillated between Randy Houser and Gary Allan… Maybe Tim McGraw… But I know this one just makes the most sense:
Have a safe ride, Jeff.