Ten years ago, when I was twenty-three, I hugged my father in the parking lot of the Albertson's grocery store as I told him I was leaving to San Francisco. If I recall correctly, I cried in his arms for a about a minute or two but it seemed like twenty. Subconsciously, I new I was breaking free of something, but could have never predicted the process of breaking. I had my car full with all my belongings as my older brother accompanied me to my favorite chilly city in the Bay; San Francisco. Personally, I felt I needed to leave Southern California and its pretenscious anorexic life style and head to a place more authentic and genuine. Obviously, I was in search of so much- myself. It was just the beginning... Those adolescent twenties were filled with energy of me PROVING myself. To my family I wanted prove that their Haitian and Cubanita daughter and sister could make it as a successful writer. To the world I wanted to challenge and dismantle the victim stance of the gender of female. I grew up like so many young girls being told to find a "good man," that the world was too dangerous for us, and education was good but make sure to remain "pretty." This confined thinking forced me to leave "home" and find my own way. I moved to San Francisco in the spring time. I was sleeping on the couch of my friends apartment in Outer Sunset as I was getting ready to attend California State University of San Francisco in the Fall. I planned to work as an editor or writer for the Mother Jones Magazine. I had so many plans...
My twenties were a pivotal time in my life. They were still the years of adolescents, where I would act upon impulse. Often, moving to places far and wide geographically and mentally.
A few months after I began living in SF, I found myself not as happy I planned. My friend kept on telling me that it would take time to adjust but I felt that it was so much more than that. Even on a short visit back down to So-Cal, my friend and I were chatting in her car and she asked how everything was going and all I felt were knots in my belly. I kept trying to hold back tears and the instinctual gut reaction of wanting to scream and say, "I'm fuckkn confused and this doesn't seem right." I was too judgemental of my freedom and being different from my friends back at home that were on traditional acceptable trajectories of maybe college but definitely kids, "secure" jobs, and marriage. I wanted my own experience instead of listening to everyone else and their suffocating projections. I wanted my own mistakes, stories, triumphs, doubts, and plans for my present and future. I wanted my own life.I didn't want my life to succumb to the narratives of those before me. Instead I wanted passion, spontaneity- I wanted to find security within my vulnerable parts. I wanted to face my fears and heal for once.
One day while traveling on the Bart traveling for a meeting, I began chatting with this woman who introduced herself as a healer. I was fascinated by how she was reading her friend's palm. A voice on my left side guided me to ask her to read my palm. I nervously obliged. As the healer read my palm she proceeded to tell me that I would be moving back to Southern California soon and that because of my troubled childhood I was consistently on the run from home but within the upcoming years I would learn how to reclaim home. I was fascinated by her reading and took her card as I exited the Bart.There was this catharsis that rang over me in meeting this healer and continued into our exchange. I was twenty-three and too prideful to admit that I was confused about my life trajectory. I had been very silent about being in SF and feeling that this chilly windy city felt good for short and and sometimes long visits but it wasn't asking me to stay longer, root myself, and create home. It was hard to surrender to such a thought because I wasn't sure what to do and I couldn't speak to my parents about it. I knew they would move into the "I told you so" syndrome. Besides, there was this over-bearing pressure to "make it" be "successful," which often meant making lots of money by working hard.
Being first generation American meant that I was raised to believe that working hard equated to financial stability. But it's not true. When one is learning to do it differently, how to navigate through the paved and unpaved parts of our life's desires, hopes, needs and wants without relying on the linear trajectories of the past and the restricting judgements of the present, becomes the pull in taking forward steps along the journey. Looking back now, I realized I needed to dismantle all the conditioned parts of self that were keeping me from becoming my authentic self. I had to let go of thought process of being, "good enough" and "lucky." Some how this healer was able to unravel the map of my unhealthy patterned behavior for me to see with distance and then role it back up for me to carry and decide what I would and could do with such information. I still have to admit it's not easy in regards to finding work. I use to be really hard on myself about moving around so much but I realize there are so many reasons I traveled. I traveled to see the world through the lens of it's natives, I traveled because I am a woman of color who can see the world in a way those before me could not, I traveled because it takes time to know where "we"/ I belong. The politics of uprootedness is still living in my blood.
"Every age has its turn Every branch of the tree has to learn Learn to grow, find its way, Make the best of this short-lived stay"
I miss San Francisco: the bars, walking the streets with the crisp wind swirling around my curly brown hair, and the coffee shops in random corners all over the city. I miss smoking cigarettes every so often, always telling myself, I'm going to quit. It was nice to walk the streets where no one knew my name and instead of judging the exhale of smoke from my mouth, they would simply ask, "hey could I bum a smoke off of you?" The disconnect of connection felt clean and easy. I use to believe, "If I can make it in SF, then I can make it any where." Now, I am a woman and I am Thirty-two. I know loss, love, lust, friendship,travel and the in-between. There are moments I don't want to "know." I have been having conversations with myself of letting go of my tendency to react, the quickness to pack up my bags and leave when things get difficult- HOME. Staying here has been a relationship I have been getting acquainted with. My father used to call me his "prodigal son" but I am not male, nor do I have riches to inherent. I am committed to work that takes me away from those I love, I fight to keep my maiden last name even if love sweeps me into a nest of co-habitation, I am not interested in white weddings for show, I am educated by the world of books ,lectures, time, and culture- I am daughter.
Lately, I have felt frazzled because change is constant and I'm unraveling in a way that is neither good nor bad but in flow. I use to be so focused on my next adventure that I had always been ready to get up and go and we all know the stamina and energy we hold to do so. Now, I'm getting use to working things through and realizing it's not the end;-it's process.The roads I have discovered have been sessions of pine freedom. Success doesn't always look the way we have learned or what people tell us. Many times it's personal. It's what we create and embark on when we follow our hearts and become strategic on how we navigate our new terrain. I've learned to integrate my experiences: my three degrees, multiple internships, cities I've traveled, and what my eyes have witnessed. Success is not the material status we gain but a combination of what we need materially, a conscious mind, the belief in self, and self-love. I've learned a tremendous amount when I went against my intuition and the uncomfortably of growth , which has given me stripes of wisdom. This is not to say it still doesn't get difficult. I don't forget that I left home for a few reasons and coming back, I have come home to groups of people who are still stuck in their own limiting belief systems. I practice to not be limited by their beliefs systems and integrate mine for my self preservation daily. I am home now, and living in a cottage studio in the mountains. I am in the unknown everyday and it's mystery invites me to rely on my tools I have gathered through the years: breathe, observer, instinct, discernment, writing, yoga, hikes, and solitude to help me along the journey of life! I'm sure there are still more tools learn.