Love and Loss

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Love doesn’t have to end just because the relationship does. While this statement seems obvious, I’ve only JUST reached the point where I can accept this. The ending of a relationship sucks us dry emotionally. With time, we reach a point where we climb off the rollercoaster for good. We usually call that point closure. But sometimes, in rare situations, closure comes with accepting the sentiment above: Love doesn’t have to end just because the relationship does.

I strongly believe in charismatic connections, which I’d describe as two people being drawn to one another rigorously, and without restraint. These types of connections are few and far between, but when they occur, they’re unstoppable. I know that these connections often cause havoc. I also know that most people deny themselves this, because truthfully, it doesn’t always happen with the person you’d expect, or prefer. Denial is a smart choice. Indulgence is a scary one. As the adventurous type, I tumbled down a long road of redemption, attempting to leave all regrets behind. But I struggled with one last notion: how do I let the love go?

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The relationship HAD to end; there was no question about that. The friendship could be distanced. The chemistry could be quelled. And space is the answer to everything. But love? Love does what it wants. I tried over and over again, failing miserably. Finally, I decided on a passive form of conflict management: avoidance.

That worked for quite some time, until recent events evoked serious emotions. Then, after having a conversation with my sister (who always drops nuggets of wisdom), I realized my internal struggle was an unnecessary battle. Who said love had to end? Love is the most human emotion. Every human being deserves at least that, love. Why would I stop loving this person? And so I won’t . And I make no apologies about it.

What I Learned About Myself While Traveling Abroad

1. I’m fully capable

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This may seem like an obvious sentiment, but for me, it was a revelation. This was my first trip abroad, and I traveled alone for the first 24 hours. It was inspirational, if even a little scary. But I only proved to myself what my heart screamed all along: I’m capable of whatever I put my mind to.

2. Traveling alone is fulfilling

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Though I only spent one day to myself, traveling and sightseeing alone in a foreign place was exhilarating. It was peaceful and brought me an inexplicable joy. If you have the chance to do it, take advantage.

3. I’m not a fan of Shakespeare like I thought I was

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As an avid fan of literature, I regrettably admit that Shakespeare just doesn’t do it for me. The last time I was interested in Shakespeare, Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio were onscreen. The Shakespeare Globe Theater (seen above) was blandly interesting, but not enough to keep us on on the tour. Sorry, not sorry!

4. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but also provides clarity

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Any qualms or sentiments I’d buried all came to the forefront of my mind while I was gone. During the relaxing, but long bus rides, I had plenty time to think. And think. And consider. And analyze. I settled a lot of internal arguments with myself, and made peace with lingering emotions. It was cathartic in so many ways.

5. I am me, unconditionally, wherever I go

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Traveling opened not only my mind, but my heart. It brought the vastness of possibility back into my life. It reminded me how blessed I am, and inspired me to move forward with purpose. That being said, I’m “me” wherever I go. Same free spirit, same sarcasm, same humor, same flaws and same shine. London or New York or San Francisco. I can’t escape me, and I love that.

6. One real friend is all you need

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My friend history has many ups and downs. I take friendship seriously, so I’ve let a lot of relationships go that just weren’t working anymore. That being said, I’d quickly trade 10 friends for the 1 amazing one I do have. When I say we had a blast, that’s an understatement!

7. God is everywhere

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Whether you believe in God, or some other form of creator, you cannot deny natural beauty. My trip to Stonehenge took my breath away. No words can capture that presence of greatness, but it was a blessing to bear witness to such a magnificent creation.

A Dream Fulfilled: I’m Going to London

One of my favorite poems is Dreams by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes. As a child, my siblings and I memorized his words and never forgot them. (My mom is a direct product of the black power movement in the Bay Area, and she instilled a source of cultural pride in us early). Now, as I prepare to spend a glorious week across the pond, Langston’s words come to mind:

Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams,
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

I never forgot these words, though I faltered and stumbled (and still do) along the way. Dreams are for keeping, harvesting and fulfilling. Though traveling is often viewed as an expected privilege by many, for me, it’s a dream come true. I’ve always seen myself as a free spirit, bound by responsibilities, but unchained by my dreams. Now, as I inch closer to completing just one of these dreams, I’m filled with an optimism and determination to believe in ALL of my dreams coming true. God said it, and HE can do it! So it’s done.

Wish me luck!

 

Where to Watch Fireworks in the Bay Area

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Here we are,approaching another 4th of July. For me, fireworks never get old. I remember forcing my best friend (already a jaded New Yorker) to trek all the way to Manhattan (from Queens) just to catch a teeny glimpse of fireworks over the Hudson. Yes, there were throes of people and it was insane and annoying, but in a beautiful, hot summer city night type of way.  I like sparkly things, what can I say? For all my fellow fireworks enthusiasts, I’ve compiled an extensive list of where to watch fireworks in the Bay Area. Before I gift you this prize, however, you must follow these rules:

1. Stay out of overtly urban areas after dark. Gun shots and fireworks sound identical.

2. Fireworks are not a DIY project. Leave it to the professionals. It’s not that serious.

3. Get there early, or prepare yourself to see the show from your car.

4. If you can, avoid driving. Public transpo is convenient and usually more affordable.

5. Have fun! But not too much, and keep it legal.

Where to Watch Fireworks in the Bay Area

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Berkeley Celebration

What I love about Berkeley is their carefree and bohemian approach to all holidays. This celebration lasts 12 hours! From 10 am to 10 pm, enjoy crafts, food, fun and end with fireworks at 9 pm.

Concord 5K Kids Run & Festival

The run starts at 8 am early, but the festival at Mt. Diablo High School is from 4-10pm, concluding with fireworks at 9 pm.

Suisun City Festival & Fireworks

Yea, I know, this isn’t always considered the Bay. But since I spend lots of time here, thought I’d share their festivities for all those in the far far northeast Bay Area. Festival lasts all day at the Waterfront, while fireworks commence around 9pm. This is my pick.

San Francisco Pier 39 Celebration

Of course, San Francisco’s fireworks take the cake. Though they share them with Oakland, Berkeley, and any other city adjacent to the bay, these are grand in every sense. Get out there early and make a day of it, starting at 12pm.

Santa Clara All-City Picnic Celebration

South Bay likes to keep it chill. I don’t blame you! Drag the family down to Santa Clara’s Central Park for a day of fun. Face painting, enough said. Fireworks kick off at 9:30 pm.

Calistoga Fireworks Spectacular

Did you know Calistoga had more to offer than wine? They had me at massage and merlot, but fireworks too? Rejoice! Had I known this ahead of time, I would’ve grabbed my wine glass and gone. Oh well, maybe next year. Parade at 11am, and fireworks at the Napa Fairgrounds at 9:30 pm.

For a more comprehensive list of places to watch fireworks in the Bay Area, click here.

 

My First True Love Was a City

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Since humanity began, we have tried effortlessly to define just what love is. We’ve idolized it, compartmentalized it, analyzed it, trampled all over it with our pointless  perspectives. What we do know is this: love is something everyone wants. Whether you desire it from a man, woman, mother, father or friend, the bottom line is that you want it. We write movies about it, develop complex theories around it, we even have laws that try to govern it. All to no avail. The truest thing about love is its inability to be controlled, no matter how you try.

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So what’s all my rambling about? Its about true love. True love: pure, unselfish, and genuine. True in its rawest form. A love that isn’t decided upon or calculated, no, it’s all encompassing and invigorating. Sure, this type of love is scary, but it’s the type of love that inspires you and challenges you. True love.

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My FIRST true love was a city. Some might say my first true love was a boyfriend, but that’s not the case. At all. For me, at least, it cannot be pure once it’s aimed towards someone. It just can’t. Nah, my first true love was San Francisco. Not because it’s a city without flaws (for it has many), but despite them all my romance with fog city has remained. As I sit here at 900 ft elevation and stare down on the city that captured my heart, I’m happy. I’m truly at peace. So much has happened here. I became ME here. The ME I always was, but didn’t embrace. I stumbled, tripped, picked myself back up, fell in and out of love, and discovered life here.

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It took my a year to learn how to style my hair to withstand the relentless fog that rolled in at 4pm daily. I accepted that a half tank of gas equals 8 hills–maybe less if it’s a windy AND steep one. I understood that REAL San Franciscans don’t shop in Union Square or hang out in Pier 39. I also learned that this city is very segregated, and that the best soul food is on Third St. The best bars are hard to find. The Marina is not my scene. That tightrope walking, drinking beer or wine, sunbathing, playing frisbee, smoking, having a picnic, making out and tumbling down hills are ALL acceptable activities in Dolores Park; in fact they’re encouraged. Buses are dangerous, trains are safer, Market St. transforms after 10pm, Ocean Beach is never warm, Giants games are overpriced…the list goes on. Ultimately, the truth is, Frisco offers so much that I never wanted to leave the city. Until I did. And then, life is never the same.

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But love remains. You know what they say about your first, you never forget. I love this place and always will.