Where Happiness Abounds

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move. -Tennyson
 
My second summer in the Bay has come to an end. Tonight I will board a flight to L.A. to spend a week with one of my closest friends, Aley, as a buffer to leaving this wonderful California summer. Last night I celebrated my last evening with rooftop drinks in San Francisco and wine and laughter with the three people who have kept me dancing all summer, and lifted my spirits at this end when I needed them lifted the most. 
 
I’ve said it before but I would say it every day if I had the space to truly capture it: I have truly amazing friends. It hasn’t always been easy and continues to not be as I ping pong from state to state, country to country, and am yet off again in October for a year in England. But they put in the effort to remain integral parts of my life. They continuously make sure that my life only contains room for the good and pushes out the bad. Their gchats, emails, phone calls, whatsapps, and everything in between are the true stuff that lasting friendships are made of. And I have seen so many of my friendships fade and wither since graduation–many of which I was surprised did not stand the test of time or distance. But it has only helped me treasure the ones who have stayed even more. And I have many more I have gained this summer as well.
 
So to Ben, Rudy, Cameron, and Adha…AGAIN, thank you for two summers now of feeling welcome with huge open arms into your home and your hilarious warmth and lives. To Alex, Jeremy, David, and Aseem, (and honorarily Richard) thank you for letting me make the Mission my second home and having a generous drinks selection. To Diana for endearing herself as a close girlfriend in just a short time, and Courtney for her romantic optimism. And Jane for proving that the best of friendships get better with time,  Michael for late night chats with his mentor, and Kellee for the light of her energy and outlook. To College Track and all the students who will stay in my heart forever, and coworkers who remind me the passion it takes to make differences in education. And to Kevin for being an integral part of a stand-out summer–it certainly would not have been the same without you.
 
And MikeBriannaMarkRichardStaceyWendyLizaSamFionaVeronicaNworahTheclaFrank and everyone who loved, laughed, and visited me, here’s to becoming part of who I am. 
 
And I carry it all everywhere I go.
 
See you later. There’s no way I won’t be back. 
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The Mind’s Politics of Leaving

My Life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.

Not til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares,
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
Who leave the choice with Him.

My house is eerily quiet and empty. All the boys have left and we have packed up belongings. It is harder leaving the Bay this time around. I sat in my roommate Rudy’s favorite armchair this evening and cried big, ugly tears. And I never know if it truly is better to meet amazing people and have wonderful moments and experiences with them than to never have at all. The pain of leaving it behind certainly makes me sometimes lean toward I wish I did not know how great this all felt. 

Sometimes, though, we don’t get to leave with all our ribbons tied and neatly placed on top of dainty packages. Sometimes there are messes that find no way to be cleaned because they were always going to be the types of messes that leave traces. And the most one can do is try to clear as much of the wreckage as possible, but being fully cognizant of the knowledge that it will go with you when you leave. 

And I can’t pretend to even begin to understand what I’m supposed to learn from that. The primary lesson now seems only to be sadness and pain and bits of loneliness. It is in those moments between ugly tears that I throw up my hands and ask God when will I understand this. There has got to be secondary and tertiary lessons. Lessons that I may be able to live with a bit more easily. But I know I won’t have those answers. There will be no packages with beautiful ribbons when I leave on Tuesday. And the faith that every journey of the heart has deeper answers revealed with time. That God does indeed know, love, and care about every aspect of my life, and that even when I can’t see the greater design being woven, I have to trust in the bigger vision of the one weaving. 

What I Can Say to be True

I have always been a writer, a storyteller. Ever since I can remember I was copying the ways of my mother by writing my being on to pieces of paper. The only thing that has changed with the years is now I type, although I still handwrite things when I can or notes to people because I believe in preserving such a beautiful art.

So writing to me has always given me a voice. When I was younger there were times that voice was threatened by the very systems that are supposed to be in place to help us, and so I created worlds where a girl like me could exist and share her mind. At first it was mainly fiction I wrote as my imagination had extraordinary wings to it. But then I started keeping a journal and the depth of my own feelings and thoughts shook me in the most positive ways.

I am not a passive actor of this world, this life. What goes on is an integral part of me and I react because it is in this way that I best express my humanity. And my ties to the rest of humanity. I am convinced that there are few things as powerful as storytelling and especially the power to tell one’s own story.

I remember a moment at a conference to empower the youth and their parents in our communities in Miami. We were sharing stories of ourselves and our communities and one girl tearfully spoke of a friend of hers that had been shot and killed and how the school lacked any real reaction to it, and the newspapers held no glimpse of the heartbreaking story. She felt as though she and those around her were insignificant, that if they disappeared no one would know nor care. And I remember the facilitator with tears in her eyes as well telling her that those are the reasons we share our story. Because you never know where or how or why it will be the moment that sharing that story will make the difference. That’s what our oppressors fear. They fear our voice and our ability to continually imagine a better tomorrow. Because in silence, that is where they find their victory. In fear, that is where they find their joy. When there are more and more voices sharing similar stories louder and louder, there will come a tipping point. I get through life fiercely believing that.

So what have I learned in these three years since I started writing Footprints in the Air? What have I come to know to be true of journeys, love, and the durability of faith?

I have learned that the easiest part of a journey is loving the people and the spaces around you and the hardest part is take-off on a flight that carries you away. I have learned that the only way to find out the depths of my person and character is to continuously push my boundaries and to find the comforts in temporary discomforts. I know that even though I am constantly on the move, far away often from those I love and who truly love me, that the mutual love just grows in new ways–never disappearing or waning. I’ve danced smiling in rainstorms in red-dirt roads of developing worlds while learning new ways of living in this world. And I’ve sat holding the hands of others while crying over the pains that sweep across the world. I’ve learned that our understanding of love keeps growing and changing, and that who you love may too. I have learned to let go of people not meant for me and focus my strength on those who truly need me. I have learned that just sitting thoughtfully and silently in a moment is sometimes worth the same as a million phrases. And I know that I will never, ever stop being an eternal optimist, because hope is indeed the most beautiful feeling on this planet. I have a fount of hope and it will quench my thirst and remind me that faith is the most durable piece of hope that I carry on the days when I open up the news to see story after story of what happens when we create ‘others’ out of our brothers and sisters. These are a just a few of the things I have come to know to be true as I have traversed across the world, sharing in the stories of others. Knowing that one of my greatest powers is not just sharing in those stories, but retelling those stories so others may know.

I will continue to write. I will continue to share my thoughts on the things that make my heart beat and my thoughts race, and I will share them even when those around me may push back in disagreement. Dialogue is the only way to peace. And most of all, I will keep writing for those who have ever felt even thee slightest bit the same ways that I have felt.