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007 | Moving cross-country + finding your stride: Meet my OLDEST pal Brandon Tidaback

Updated: Jul 1, 2020


Hey, hey, hey humans! We're back for episode 007 of Souls Undressed. I'm your host, Tori + today we are diving into a new kind of episode format. We have a guest on with us today + it happens to be literally the oldest friend in existence in my life. I am going to be chatting with Brandon Tidaback. Brandon left town + left the state earlier on than a lot of us do when you grow up in a tiny town. There is definitely a population of people who leave town, but Brandon left the state for college + then ended up moving across country to pursue business + his life out there with the glory + beauty of Seattle.

Today, I am going to pick his brain to serve up on a platter the perspective that a lot of us don't get to experience coming from small rural towns like Coal City, Illinois, but we're also going to start out diving into our friendship + how we know each other + give all that backstory. Then, we're going to let Brandon talk about his life out there + everything that he has experienced + grown from through his decisions to leave town + when he gets to come back + all of that means to him. We're also going to end talking about how we maintain our closeness. I think that long-distance is pretty common in a variety of different friendships + relationships, but it is definitely something that causes tension or stress on those relationships, unintentionally + unfortunately, i'd say that a lot of relationships fizzle out + almost grow past a point of feeling like you can return to that "closeness" again. I think it is really cool to dive into the long-distance perspective from a friendship + then Andrew + I are going to get on here and talk about how our relationship started with long distance + I also have done an episode that I'm going to try to pick pieces from to create an episode about long-distance relationships currently with a couple that I am really close with.

So, that is what you can expect for today. We're both going to share our own tips + tricks for you to be able to take what you want, leave what you don't as far as spreading your wings, exploring your own passions + desires + not letting your surroundings + your circumstances limit you + how to make the most + keep the most in the relationships that mean the most to you when there is a lot of geographical distance between you. I wrote a really cheesy quote before I read the vision board quote that says, "Life changes + so does geography, but your friendship doesn't have to." That's not my vision board quote, the real one is coming, but I wrote that shit last night + was like, "oooo, that's good, can't leave it out."

I do not have the author for today's quote to read to you, but I will try to have it in the show notes that are linked in the notes here if you'd like to look that up + whenever it is shared on the Instagram page I will be sure to include it.

"Initiate. Life is too damn short to live in a mediocre way. Wake up with a purpose + make the best of each day in your short time on this earth. Stop saying, "I'll do this when I have more money," or "I'll start when I'm more settled." Stop making excuses. What if I told you that all you need is what you have right now? That's all you need to make a start. It doesn't matter if you're 17 or 50. Set your alarm for tomorrow morning and wake up with a purpose. Always give your best and live your best life. Don't let the years just pass you by because we don't get another chance, this is it."

I had a hard time choosing a quote for this episode, I'll be honest. I chose this one because I feel like the way that Brandon has dove into his life + his passions + what comes natural to him, is, and always has been in a way that has been true to himself. I think the reason that we had such closeness in the fact that we've both always had a hard time feeling like we "matched the crowd," + we always have gotten along with people super well + always been "people-people," but we've always felt things differently about life + so I feel like getting to watch him take off + chase things that go against the grain even when people are like, "Why the hell are you doing that?" or "How are you doing that? How are you going to survive?" or "Holy shit, you're a $450 flight + halfway across the country away from everything you know + love.... how will you survive? You'll be back in no time." All these things that we experience when we have doubt about our dreams + our belief systems + he just kind of crushed it all + said, "Fuck that," + now he does what he wants + he loves life + he's got a bangin' girlfriend from Alaska that we're totally going to talk about. I frickin' love her, but without further ado, let's get to it.

Moving cross-country + finding your stride: Meet my OLDEST pal Brandon Tidaback:

Hello! Welcome to the podcast, Brandon! Brandon, meet the microphone + the crowd!

Brandon: How's it goin' everyone? Thanks for having me! It's good to see you for consecutive days now.

Tori: I know! So, Brandon is home on a little trip home post COVID, to spend some time with fam + regroup. Like I said in the intro, he's in Seattle, so we don't really get many consecutive day hang outs + we've seen each other quite a few times since he's been home. So, Brandon, why don't you tell the listeners how we became friends.

Brandon: I think you might do it a little bit better than me, but I will give it a good shot. Preschool? Kindergarten? Kindergarten. Ms. Stallion, yeah.

Tori: She's like the realist.

Brandon: We might bring up some very impactful teachers from the past + some of them are retired now, but we will thank her for being our teacher + we can just kick it off there. We met very early on in grade school + then at some point, I don't know when, you ventured off to Dwight.

Tori: Yeah, I moved away. We we're like the closest humans ever in kindergarten, we have pictures together, he's like one of the only friends I remember from my time in Coal City + then, yeah, I dipped out. Then, we became friends again in middle school.

Brandon: Fast forward to convincing our parents that we could have a MySpace or cell phone with a few texts.

Tori: Football Games!

Brandon: Yeah, football games, absolutely! Small town games, you run into everyone! Yeah, I think around middle school time, we were able to reignite what friendship we had when we were younger + it just didn't stop.

Tori: We had so many mutual friends in Coal City. So, I moved away + Brandon was really the only friend that I still had from when I was in kindergarten, even though it's not like we kept in touch as little elementary school humans, but I had friends in town still because my dad had always stayed in Coal City. My mom moved to Dwight, so that's when I started school there. I still had some girlfriends here + then, obviously, as you get into middle school you start being friends with boys again. So, I was at football games, hanging out with the girls + stuff + I got to see you. Then, in high school when I moved back it was like finally the frickin' team reunited + we could hang at your house with momma Tam + with the pups. Then, I feel like once college hit it was just like, we were inseparable again.

Brandon: It is funny to hear you say it out like that because truthfully, we've only had a couple of years where we've been able to have quite a bit of access, but yet, you're still my longest friend.

Tori: I feel like even in middle school, when you're at that age, you start to really value the "old school" or the things you've had that have a little more longevity at that point, you start connecting to the nostalgia, but I think, I definitely say in middle school we were always like, "Friends since 99'!" So, that was the thing we probably annoyed everyone with saying like, "Best friends since then, forever!"

Brandon: Here we are, still standing strong!

Tori: My favorite part of our adult friendship is when Andrew + I started dating + it was right at the end of Senior Year + I had graduated early so I wasn't at school anymore, but I still had to walk with my class in May, but Brandon + I were still best friends + Andrew was never somebody that was weird about me being friends with dudes, he's pretty chill about most things. Brandon knew Andrew from football days. I didn't know Andrew in high school, I met him once he was already out + in college + he had always said to me, "If you knew me in high school, you wouldn't have dated me," so Brandon had this bit of discomfort like, "I don't really know if your boyfriend might want to kick my ass." I think we went to McDonald's one day + Brandon + I were in the four-way-stop going to McDonald's + Andrew was at the adjacent stoplight + Brandon was like, "OH SHIT. Is he going to be pissed?" When you're in high school, would you agree, people just get so mad about everything.

Brandon: I think it was also that we live in a town where you are always visible, so even if you weren't doing anything or trying to, somebody could say something.

Tori: Rumors everywhere!

Brandon: The last thing I wanted to do was piss anyone off in a small town + have several extended people mad at me + there be like 6 different stories. Playing Freshman football + being pulled up for playoffs + stuff like that being around that, you're like, "you know what... yeah... I'd prefer to be on his good side."

Tori: He was not a small or nice dude all the time, but I respect that + he totally respected it too. I feel like, too, with him being that much older that us, we were so used to the way that people our age were reacting, so we were just like, "so + so's boyfriend would have been pissed or so + so's girlfriend would have been pissed." I would just laugh about that because now Andrew + Brandon are like super close, well they've always been super close. Then, after you moved out to Seattle, we still stayed in touch. Andrew + I came out + saw you + Elise. We had like bomb-est ass trip, EVER! Went to a show for your birthday. I just gota say, I am obsessed with Elise, she knows, I think the sun shines out of her ass, but that was such a fun trip to get to completely bond + get to know each other super well. I met her before we came out there. She came home with you, right?

Brandon: Yeah, she came home the summer before you guys came out.

Tori: So, when we went out there, it was just really nice for the four of us to get to hang out. I would say that pretty much has led us up to where we're at now. Now Brandon can come home when he can.

Brandon: I try to. I try to make it a yearly trip.

Tori: You're really good at it, though. Consistency is your shit.

Brandon: Yeah, I try to be consistent, but I think we will get into it later, but I think the people here have stayed consistent. That's why I try to.

Tori: I like that. So, as far as me stealing the mic + talking about the timeline, I feel like I can gab all day about that stuff, but I want you to talk about your decision to go to Iowa for college. Kind of offer some insight + some experience-based perspective on the decision to go elsewhere + what it felt like + would you do it again.

Brandon: I went to Augustana College, which is in the Quad Cities. It's on the border of Illinois + Iowa, out near like the Rock Island/Davenport area. It is about 2 hours + 40 minutes away, depending on if there is still traffic on I-55 + I-80 out here.

Tori: There actually is construction right now.

Brandon: Classic. The 20 year project. Yeah, I think my decision to go there was, I wanted to be far enough away to where I didn't come home every weekend, but I also wanted to be close enough to where if I wanted to come back to see my friends, whom a lot didn't go far away to school, you yourself for example, graduated early + stuff like that, so I wanted access to the people that I cared most about, but I also wanted the distance to be like, "Hey, you're at college. This is your chance to figure some things out." Then, being able to play baseball for a bit was just a bonus on top of that. So, I decided to go out there, for that purpose mainly + the school was really good, too. It had awesome reviews about the business department as a whole.

Tori: You knew that's what you wanted to do, too, right?

Brandon: I didn't know exactly what I wanted to get into, but like you were saying, we're people-people + I was like, well, business is kind of the best place to do that.

Tori: So, baseball played into it, business played into it, the distance played into it, did any part of you think, "I'm getting out of Illinois."

Brandon: I think at that point, my goal truthfully was to really just go to school, get a good job + help out if needed or at least have enough distance between me + my family where I could still have my own space, but also the access.

Tori: Create your own, but have access to what you need + what needed you.

Brandon: I don't think I was actually looking at getting out of Illinois, but I think the most common joke I always receive from everyone I met was that I was "the West Coast kid that grew up in the Mid-West," or you're the kid that belongs in the surf-y lifestyle. Long boarding down Coal City road isn't very common here, but it is something I enjoy doing a lot. I wasn't really thinking distance at that point, but I knew eventually my long-term goal was: there's more out there, + although I love this town, I would truly love to go to California or some place like that because I never got to go anywhere that didn't involve baseball growing up.

Tori: That's so true. All your trips growing up involved baseball.

Brandon: It's 50/50. My first true vacation didn't happen until I was 21.

Tori: That definitely, I feel like, plays into your desire to see the world on your own terms, or even the country on your own terms because you're being exposed to all of this extra beauty that doesn't exist in Illinois or in our realm, but then it was almost like a tease. You got to enjoy it, but it was a sample platter, like now, I know there's more out there.

Brandon: That's a great point. Also, I played on over 10 travel teams, so I played with consistent people, but I never played on a consistent team, which I don't think was bad, I think it is actually the reason why I can still come back here + talk to people because I was always familiar with everyone, but never around long enough. I removed myself in a way, but I would never change that I got to meet like 15 new guys on a baseball team every year playing for 3 different teams a year or something like that. That's like 40 new friends! Because you meet them all over the country, I still have some of those friends that I talk to + have met up with.

Tori: That's a great point even to touch on, too, is if you have that interest in maybe getting out there + doing things like that + you have an athletic interest that has access to travel teams like that. You didn't know necessarily that was potentially what was feeding into you wanting to travel later, but it could have!

Brandon: I always said that even being able to travel so much as a kid, even if it was through baseball, was a tease in every place + I liked every place that I went to. I don't think there was ever a bad travel trip because it always meant I got to go somewhere. My parents gave my sister + I a lot to be able to do that + we were both pretty athletic growing up. so we chose to do that. So we kind of sacrificed our own vacations in a way. We got to compromise + do both our hobby + vacation all in one.

Tori: That's awesome. I like that. So then, you went to college, you started pursuing business + you played baseball for a bit + then you graduated + then what came next? Where was your head at as you were heading towards graduation? We kind of supplied some input + perspective for the kids that are getting ready to look into colleges + look into that next step of Coal City or my [insert small rural town here], does it feel like it is serving me for all I am looking for? Or the school is far away + is nerve racking, but should I let that limit me? Now, let's shift into getting toward the end of college, getting ready for "the real world," where was your head at + where did Seattle come into play? I remember you were looking at variety o different places for a while, which I think is why I am so intrigued by your perspective on travel + moving away because I think that it went deeper than just liking this place or this place, I think it was, "I know I have potential," + whether it was intentional or not, I think something in you knew there was some limitation happening by being here. With a city of 6,000, comes a smaller, more narrow lens if we look at it from a photographer perspective.

Brandon: So, I was pretty calm finishing college. I was ready to be done, I'll be honest. I had a pretty easy Senior year. It was because I didn't play baseball my Senior year that I actually had an easier one. I was able to knock out some extra credits in Fall term. That made my Spring really easy. My Fall was a little nerve-racking through because I lived with my teammates who were all accounting majors, they all had jobs at the end of their Junior year. So, I was panicking when I didn't have a job because you surround yourself with these people + you kind of start to compare yourself to them whether you wanted to or not. Because they had jobs that made me work really hard to kind of reevaluate a lot of things. To me, those guys had done what they were supposed to do. They went to college, they got a job before they even had their diploma + that's kind of the end game, right? Like, I want to put my degree to work. That's why I spent all this money to go into this specialized education. I looked at a variety of places because one of my roommates was in this rotational program where he was going to living in three different areas across 3 years, another one of my buddies was going back to the city + he had lived up in Northern Illinois so he never got to spend time out there. You hear these people that get to spend time in places that they really like, or that they haven't been to + they get a chance to + it is on the company dime, in a way.

Tori: It is to serve that next phase with the company, right.

Brandon: You hear them talk about what they're so excited for. I was like okay, cool. I don't have to look for a job in Morris or in Joliet or maybe I can look into the city. I can say too, at that point, I didn't think I was a city person. I think it is absolutely hysterical that I moved across the river once I finally did get my job, into Davenport + now I am in Seattle. If you've ever been to Quad Cities there's four massive cities of over like 50,000 people, but then you have Davenport, in the center of all of this + you're like, this is Coal City just across the border a little bit. They've got more options in terms of food + stuff, but you know, we love our classics here. Enough of that. I'd say, let's talk April. I got to coach my buddy's old high school JV coach and Assistant Varsity coach at that school + I absolutely loved it. Just being around the high school, too, those kids were really starting to ask me questions like, "What do you do?" "Where are you going?" I was like, ok cool, this is kind of like the questions you want to get asked when you're in this position. I didn't have an answer at that point.

Tori: So it was like exciting, but also a little nerve-racking. You're like, "oh shittttt."

Brandon: So, now I had pressure from my roommates, and I have pressure from these high schoolers who are trying take a kid 4 years older than them, coaching them + stuff who plays college baseball seriously + I don't have an answer for them.

Tori: By the way, you still feel like that as an adult working with high schoolers.

Brandon: I am kind of thankful I don't have to do that, I respect you for it. So, I ended up looking at several companies just around the Quad Cities because I like that area + fell into a company that was in Muscatine, Iowa, + the reason that I chose that job was because, much like my friend who is in the rotational program, this company had just started a new segment of their business where you can work at their headquarters, but within 6-10 months, they were expecting people that were coming into the next two hiring groups at the start of summer + at the end of summer to be able to get up + move + go manage a territory because they were looking at expanding some marketing programs, some sale programs + when I graduated, I graduated with a degree in Business Administration, but I have focuses in Marketing Management + I also had a Minor in Communication Studies.

Tori: So, you're marketable, but you also knew that you would potentially have the opportunity to move with this company.

Brandon: Yeah, + I thought that with my degree, a position like that where it is kind of a mix of everything, this company seemed to have several things I might be interested in, I didn't have to decide just yet. My accounting friends are accountants, still to this day.

Tori: That's what I love about your job + the degree that you have. You have so much versatility + that's why I think, which I know you'll get to it, where you're at now is cool + where you're looking at because you've slowly maneuvered your way to these things that interest you even more + in different ways.

Brandon: Yeah, so that position really spoke to me as something I want to do. Sure enough, I was 22, just turned 22, interviewed for a job, you can go to California, Seattle or Washington D.C. Okay. I am going to choose the California one. Some things happened + they were like, "Hey, you got the job, but the person in California can't move yet. So, we would like to offer you Seattle."

Tori: Were you bummed at first?

Brandon: I had never been to Seattle! I think that something that might shock people that might listen to this is the first time I went to Seattle I had to get an apartment.

Tori: Ah, that gives me so much anxiety.

Brandon: Yeah, I had never been out there, I had never looked into it. I heard that it rains in Seattle. My sister was a Grey's Anatomy fan, yet, spoiler alert, Grey's Anatomy was not filmed in Seattle, so I hope that doesn't crush your listeners. I know my sister was pretty bummed with that. They do the intro, but that's it. I don't know, but I knew very little stuff about it, but what I did know about Seattle was that it was on the West Coast.

Tori: Which is what you liked about California.

Brandon: Exactly. It is further away than I thought I was going to go, but it was still far enough away where I'm like, "If I'm going to get an opportunity to move + not have to pay any money because the company would pay to move you, this is my opportunity to do that. What do I have to lose? It was a one-year extended contract because they didn't want me to feel locked in or anything. So that's something I am very appreciative of + I don't know of a ton of people who come across that, but I guess what I am getting at is it was too perfect to turn down. So I went!

Tori: Look at you now. That was how many years ago? 3?

Brandon: I have lived there for 3-4 years. It will be 4 years January 23rd, 2021.

Tori: Nice.

Brandon: I'll never forget that day.

Tori: I remember when you decided you were going, I was so scared shitless. It's funny because I just sent you a Time Hop last week from when you moved to Iowa for school + I think a week before that, or next week, will hit the pictures pretty soon from another one of your trips home + then the Lolla day is coming up, from our trip last year. You decided to go, you moved in January. You were like, "I can't take my car."

Brandon: There was a lot of stuff I couldn't take. I just bought a puppy two years before that, too. I wouldn't blame her if she forgot me, but I still come through that door + she gets super excited. Hopefully no family listens to this, but she does come first. When I booked that ticket I'm like, "I can't wait to my dog," but then it's like family + friends + things like that.