I don’t know where to start. Between work and this new life I’ve created, my mind is a storm of possibility and doubt, mixing together perilously and causing some extremes in emotion. One minute I’m elated, and the next, I’m on the verge of tears. I’ve reached a lull in this dynamo this morning. Thank Universe.
Yesterday was a day of walking. I milled about the north end of San Francisco, traveling east from my apartment all the way to the Presidio, looking at bikes, walking along the bay, eating pizza, reading, and of course, drinking an IPA. I still find myself in disbelief that I made this move, but it feels oddly normal to be here. It feels like it fits.
Today is Day Two of the Gratitude Reboot. Here goes:
(1) I am grateful for new faces. My teaching partner texted me yesterday, letting me know that there was a happy hour in SOMA (short for South of Market). Well, to give you a little context, I’m far north of Market, and considerably uphill… or downhill… or both. I’m still figuring out this whole “changing elevation” thing. Alas, I figured meeting some new people and having a beer might assuage some of my homesickness, so I booked it the two and a half miles to meet some of the people from my new job. Not only were they all incredible, humble, and kind, but they reminded me that we’re all in the same boat and that we’re all in education for the same reason.
(2) I am grateful for art shows. When at happy hour last night, I approached someone who’d become my new friend almost instantly. We chatted about school, personal lives, and other things I’m sure I can’t remember. She mentioned that her girlfriend was coming, and that they’d be going to an art show.
“Hey, you wanna come?” she queried.
I was humbled and fought the urge to say “no” immediately, not because the proposition seemed undesirable; rather, the preconception that surely this Midwestern boy would not fit in at San Francisco art show made it hard to say yes.
She looked at me, half-smiling.
“What the hell,” I replied. And I went.
The expression of culture, artistry, and individuality left me speechless. In fact, I still feel speechless about it. I’ve tried to write several descriptive sentences about it right now, and I find that my words are incapable of capturing the experience at this time. I’ll try again later. If the words never come to me, what I can say now is that it opened my eyes to how little I truly know, and to how easy it is to come to a new place and immerse yourself in new experiences and new culture… as long as you’re open to it.
(3) I’m grateful for authenticity and presence of mind. When we were entering, I turned to my new friend, unsure about my attire.
“Am I dressed okay for this? I look like a goody-goody white boy.”
“Well, you are one. You’re wearing shorts and you have a tan,” she said, smiling, and we both laughed. “Here, wear this beanie. It’s San Francisco. Everyone wears beanies. Just make sure you pull it up and tilt it a little bit.”
I put on the beanie and laughed, thinking about how ridiculous I probably looked, but grateful that I would fit in. I walked around with it on my head for quite some time, feeling horribly out of place, but simultaneously feeling like I was right where the Universe wanted me to be. The diversity of clothing alone was worth its own exhibit. No two hairstyles, dresses, shirts, or colors were the same, a far cry from the relative conformity of Chicago. In fact, the diversity of style in the room almost made my “mainstream” unique. I was certainly the only one in my summer shorts, green henley, and Sperrys. It was then that I realized I was in a room full of individuals, happy to share their unique expression of themselves with the world around them.
I took off the beanie, relinquished my insecurity, and embraced myself, which at this point was truly an innocent, goody-goody white boy from the Midwest. It really made no difference what I wore; instead, all that mattered was who I was, and not in the sense that I needed prerequisite personality traits to fit in with this crowd.
Instead, I needed authenticity and presence within the moment to be “one of them.” It seems that I was “one of them” all along, with or without the beanie.