When people talk about work-life balance, there’s an implicit assumption that they are two separate things. When I was 18, I believed in strict separation of everything: spiritual, friendship, romance, family, career should all be kept in separate compartments and carefully managed. And it drove me crazy how my grandmother mixed her food all together on her plate. But now, while I don’t mix food, I do have more integration between parts of my life. This last trip to the US was a clear case of that: family, work, athletics, friends, and Mexican food blending together in harmony.
The Bryan J. Rollins 2014 US Tour started in Virginia, where a flight delay meant a super shuttle home at 2 AM. The five days that followed were relaxed and comfy: swimming at the pool with my niece, watching my nephew play tennis, going out to lunch with my mom, having breakfast with my sister. I’m figuring out how to be more of my actual self around my family, and it only took 43 years. While it’s incredibly hard leaving, I left this time feeling connected rather than separated, complete rather than shattered, and at peace rather than in pain.
With only four nights in the Bay Area, each one was important. First, a shopping spree at the Sports Basement. Second, a dinner with an amalgamation of friends from different circles. Third, an incredible evening with a friend who I haven’t seen in years. Finally, the formation of a new friendship with a new colleague. While the trip was a whirlwind, I felt focused, and not manic. Maybe I am growing up? Let’s hope not. At the same time I was more productive – swimming most mornings, and every hour in the SF office was valuable (a stark contrast to some of my other trips).
Atlassian just opened an Austin office, and while my role doesn’t overlap much with what will be done in Austin, I wanted to do everything I could to support our opening. I also needed to return after the debacle of my last trip to Austin, where I enjoyed the worst weekend of the entire year of 2013, in order to purge the mental scars. The Yin from December was completely Yanged by the last week in Austin. Even arriving on a red-eye could not dampen my spirits. After a quick nap at the Sarkars, I went to Jack And Adams, the worldwide mecca for triathletes named Bryan J. Rollins.
Jack And Adams
I have to pause in the middle of my Austin story to talk about how great Jack And Adams is. Since I first walked in 7 years ago, I’ve loved this store more than any store, with the Sports Basement in San Francisco a close second. The business is simple in some ways but incredibly deep in others. Start by taking a smart, insightful approach to retail, but make the purpose of the entire business about making the triathlete community in Austin the best in the world. Mix in hilarious, friendly, and super-cool staff, passionate triathlete nuts, and you get a store that you’d like to hang out in all day. There are few companies where I am truly proud to be a customer, and Jack and Adams is the gold standard.
The First Ride is the Sweetest, Baby I Know
I had time for a two hour ride, and headed up Shoal Creek road. The bike was more impressive than I’d imagined. After stopping in on the Wells, who were shocked to see someone they thought was in Australia, I headed back. While I’m really not supposed to push it that hard on a bike right now, given that my femur is still repairing itself, it was too tempting not to put down the hammer on the slight incline back towards 35th, then pushed up to 50 kph on the final twist and decline to Enfield. Honestly, it hurt. My leg wasn’t that happy. But, it was worth it.
After the ride I showered at the Ghangurde’s, and decided to repeat my training ritual of two P-Terry’s chicken burgers and a milkshake. Good times. Funny that my fondest memories of when I was married were when I was by myself. After hanging out with the Sarkars I returned to meet Mak at the Dog and Duck. Throughout the weekend I’d have times where I got to be with people I care about, one on one, and hear the truth of their lives. This was the greatest part of the weekend. By the time I left, Austin had redeemed itself in my eyes, if not purely because of the people I care about who live there. Sunday with the Sarkar clan only emphasized how lucky I am to have the friends I do in Austin.
How did I get to work for a company this cool? I’m better at my job than I’ve ever been in my life (and I’m becoming more modest every day), but I still have more to learn than ever to actually succeed at it. The opening of the Austin office, and my minuscule part in it, are a huge source of pride for me. The people in the Austin office are now family, and they understand, like any family, many of my annoying habits.
Back to Manly
At the end of the day, as I board the plane for Australia, I am going home. While I don’t really act like many of the people I live around (except for La Familia Bunting), I feel at home. I have a clear picture of what I want in life, and it’s exactly what I get to experience every day. But it would be really nice if Taco Deli opened up a location in Manly.