The Memories We Carry

At this point in the party everyone’s four or five deep, perhaps because, as co-workers, we’re not usually out of the office together, but more likely because we’re a bunch of neurotic writers. The get-together is a goodbye for a senior editor at our magazine who’s leaving Los Angeles for someplace actually affordable, and many at the party are friends of his that are strangers to me. I strike up a conversation with one of them — this pretty redhead in a black slip — and we get to talking about our pasts. She asks me what I used to do to before working at the magazine, and that’s how the question came up:

“So how was the trip?”

This is where I pause for a moment, probing her eyes for clues.

Even though I’ve been asked about “the trip” hundreds of times since returning to the United States, it’s still difficult to answer. Typically, I choose from three stock responses:

A. “It was great.” (then change the subject)

B. “It was an adventure.” (then give a 2 min recap of the “craziest thing that happened”)

C. “It was life-changing.” (before going full-bore into the emotional ups and downs of the journey)

And, well, it’s a surprisingly tough call to make – anticipating how deep down the rabbit hole your asker wants to follow.

Two years riding a bicycle from France to China with a friend was hands-down the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It completely changed who I am, defining my attitudes towards everything from country, to relationships, to family. When I was “out there,” months at a time in the hinterlands of developing countries, I learned empathy, I grasped privilege, I probed religion and selfishness; I saw the truest expressions of evil and goodness; I was beat up and tormented and lonely and had to construct myself from the ground up into the person I am today.

Returning home to California, I knew that it would be difficult to readjust. I also wondered how to possibly convey the extent of what I just went through.

Anyone who has weathered a period which was deeply challenging or ground-shifting knows what I’m talking about – whether it was time spent abroad, coming out of the closet, a religious (or anti-religious) experience, combat, an identity crisis – but then how do you convey the totality of what that meant to you? And what is considered socially acceptable in a casual conversation?

One thing I have learned: it is dangerous to expect too much.

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Paris to Shanghai: A Photo Summary of the Trip

16,000 miles through 23 countries. 22 months on the road. Hundreds of friends, adventures, and lessons along the way. Here is a taste, through a handful of photos, of what it was like.

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Our Finish, Covered by the Chinese Press

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The Finish & The Celebration

(This post is written by Philippe Hartley on behalf of the PostulateOne team – they’re busy enjoying the thrills of victory, like giving interviews, sleeping, and seeing people they have known for more than an hour)

PostulateOne brought us excitement through the finish line itself. Not shown in this piece is the PostulateOne Master of Journalism plaques which were awarded Chris Walker and Morgan Hartley to cheers on a rooftop hotel overlooking the Pearl.

We hope that, via these few minutes of video, PostulateOne fans all over the globe can share the fabulous closing moments as we lived them. Many who have helped Morgan and Chris along their voyage do not have any way of seeing these images, or ever knowing what happened to those two bicycle journalists on a long voyage. To them, and to the many, many people who went out of their way to help, we say ” ‘wish you could have been here.”

The festivities were the product of vision and preparation. In China, public assembly is strictly forbidden, especially on the heavily patrolled Shanghai Bund where the finish line stood .  Just putting up this post and video required determination to get around the firewalls.  What seems like a easy upload or a good street party to Americans is cause for arrest here, and our public celebration was definitely a guerrilla move, as the documented party break-up attests. The Walker and Hartley families wish to recognize the teams at ChaseFuture and Strikingly; a rousing bravo to Elisa Montalvo and her dancers. All backed the call for a special effort, and helped deliver. A tip of the hat specifically to Greg Nance and David Chen for their winning leadership and friendship. We thank you all.

pH

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Shanghai – the ride in

(Note: this posting was not authored by either of the PostulateOne writers). In the link  below, the advance welcome team intercepts PostulateOne 35km outside of Shanghai center.  The video starts as the two parties find each other. Chris’s father John Walker (who had met Chris and Morgan the night before), Philippe Hartley (Morgan’s father) and Greg Nance (close friend of Morgan’s and a Shanghai resident) escort the team through the outskirts of the massive city of 25 million. Philippe captures a few key and emotional moments along the electrified ride in, as the sun drops, and the kilometers melt away toward an unforgettable evening.  See “PostulateOne – The Finish & Celebration” for what followed.(to be uploaded soon)

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