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Coming Back Home

 

San Francisco was the first city I learned to love on my own. It was a love that wasn’t inherited by family circumstance or history, it was a love I sought out on my own and held close all for my own reasons. I moved to San Francisco when I was 18, never having spent a night anywhere else but my parent’s house. San Francisco gave me a second family and a second home. My love for SF happened instantly. Probably spurred like a lot of young love, by the fact my parents never saw the beauty or the appeal of it in the same way I saw it.

However, in these three years since I’ve moved back to L.A., that love has shifted and changed to something new and my life in San Francisco has grown hazier in my memories. Replaced by new and shiny experiences. Crowded trains replaced with long car rides. Foggy mornings and a vacant sun replaced with sweaty and overbearing heat. A tiny overpriced one bedroom apartment replaced with a spacious rent-free suburban home.

It was an amicable split, but like any split…it’s healthy to take some time apart and focus on your new love. That lovelorn feeling had all but been lost, but this weekend I was able to capture a little of that magic.

San Fogcisco

This weekend, we walked around our old neighborhood. Strolling to old neighborhood favorites, reminiscing over what looks familiar and noticing all that’s different. Bound without the constant, meter-filling worry of a car, it felt like old times. We hopped from neighborhood to neighborhood like we never left. The city was as it always was beautiful.

Comparing  my SF experiences to my new life is futile. The way I love now is with the lens of foresight and maturity, it’s well-thought and intentional. The love I felt for SF was instant and fueled by an environment where I was allowed to make mistakes and grow as a person. It was young love and although that same love can never be captured, it’s nice to know that I can occasionally visit those same streets and feel like I’m home.

 

-Sandi

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weekend warriors

Las Vegas Hangover

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I often tell people, I don’t watch television to learn anything new. You can find me watching couples fight over their first house purchase, obnoxious chef-celebrities eat foot high cheeseburgers and reality TV families travel the world to appear at various clubs. I’m sure it makes me sound dumb, but I stand by it and I feel secure enough intellectually to not let the reaction I get from people when I say that faze me. To me TV is a time to let other voices besides my own fill my head. My brain is constantly going 90 miles per hour. Thought after thought after overanalytical thought crowding itself in my head that makes me question everything, all the time. It’s exhausting. And it’s something I’m fighting to manage as I near 30.

Going to Vegas for me is like watching TV but it’s engaging all my senses. It gives me a colorful, noisy and obnoxious world to fill my sight, ears and brain with that is way louder than my thoughts. It’s not something that comes intuitively but it’s a healthy exercise in self-control to enjoy a place like Las Vegas.

It had been about seven years since I last went to Las Vegas and some of the things I remember from that first trip were: wearing heels that I couldn’t quite handle, being ogled by a nightclub nightman that was sizing girls up to see if they were attractive enough to pay for overpriced drinks, and the muggy weather. All that said, it was still fun. The novelty of being 22 in Vegas with my best friend made it all worth it. There’s a sort of freedom that Vegas gives you and thankfully I was with someone that was just as cautious as I was to fully partake in the Vegas experience.

So this time, I tried to mentally prepare myself.  There’s a pre-desensitisation that you have to go through before driving in or landing in Las Vegas for a person like me to fully enjoy it. A cloak of ignorance to everything around you. You have to make a pact with yourself to ignore the smoke, ignore the offensive and sexist comments that are hurled at you, ignore the prostitutes giving sad men a reason to smile and ignore the debauchery.

…and that’s what I did. I turned off the part of me that’s rightfully offended for and by many things. I felt like I was just floating past Vegas not a permanent resident that needed to correct all the wrong I saw. I was a passerby enjoying it for what it’s worth and then going back to my life where I can proudly say I voice my opinion readily and often to the things I don’t find just. It’s a technique that’s well-suited for a short weekend.

Here’s hoping I can continue to live in the present and postpone the over analyzation until a little later when the urge to write kicks in.

 

-Sandi

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Alone in a Crowd

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The phrase “alone in a crowd” has some pretty sad connotations. The idea that even in a room full of people, you can still feel isolated and lonely…it’s a tragic feeling. However, recently I feel like I’ve discovered that there’s something kind of beautiful about it. Recently I had a full day of just me. A day adventure by myself in a crowded city.

I went to a lookout point with a breakfast burrito and some iced coffee (from Cofax) and was met with a few tourists. I went to The Broad museum and stood in line for about an hour with another 50 people then walked around a crowded museum with endless chatter. Then went to grab some food and went to a nearby beach where there were groups of friends, couples, and a few too many models having their photograph taken against the scenic backdrop. I was surrounded by people all day but had no one next to me.

There’s something beautiful about having no one but yourself to please. Taking the wrong turn or being stuck in traffic don’t seem so bad when you have no one there to turn to and complain to or apologize to. Having nothing but your own thoughts as you walk through a crowd is sort of liberating. It’s the realization that happiness and feeling fulfilled and grateful and content is possible amidst a busy and crowded life. There’s always going to be noise, and crowds, and opinions, and work and stress. But as long as you can come back to that place, that quiet place in your head…then you’ll always feel grounded. Realizing that the most important person to make happy is yourself feels like an obvious sentiment but it’s so easily overlooked. We can’t be good partners, good friends or good employees if we’re constantly concerned with other people’s reactions and happiness.

That’s a tough one for me, I’m constantly worried about how other people are perceiving my actions. If people think I’m being nice enough, understanding enough, “good” enough. I know I shouldn’t but it’s my anxiety ridden default. These moments when I’m by myself with my thoughts in a busy room, remind me that there is no one else’s standards that I should be trying to meet. If I love hanging with myself all day then it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks because no one knows me as well as I know me. The people that do like me, love me or tolerate me…well that’s just icing on the cake.

That sense of independence of operating alone and being to make yourself happy in the midst of traffic, and smog and noise is unbelievably liberating. The next time I’m feeling insecure, or unheard, or overwhelmed I’ll have to remember that I am in charge of what makes me happy. I have a place in my mind that I can come back to, where it’s quiet and peaceful. And that place is accessible in a crowded room or by myself.

-Sandi

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Second Adolescence: Moving Back Home

the palm tree that stands outside my window

                                           [the palm tree that stands outside my window at my parents house]

The fear when you make (or are forced by bad luck or a pricey Bay Area rental market) the decision to move back home is that you’re losing your freedom, your privacy and your right to call yourself an adult. All that stuff is true in ways. Depending on your situation, you do lose a bit of freedom and some privacy. You also function in this gray area of adulthood where you don’t pay rent but have a full-time job. You don’t have to always cook your meals, but you still have to pay off credit cards and student loans. It’s cushy and annoying, and great and awful.However, in the last (almost) three years I feel like I’m finally at a place where I can speak on the experience. When we first had moved it, I felt like I was entering a second adolescence. Suddenly I was talking back to my parents again, getting annoyed at what they said and being too involved in family drama. It took a job search and planning a wedding to finally feel like I’m coming out the other side and can see the situation a little bit more clearly.

However, in the last (almost) three years I feel like I’m finally at a place where I can speak on the experience. When we first had moved it, I felt like I was entering a second adolescence. Suddenly I was talking back to my parents again, getting annoyed at what they said and being too involved in family drama. It took a job search and planning a wedding to finally feel like I’m coming out the other side and can see the situation a little bit more clearly.

Moving back home has given me a few things that I always be grateful for and I don’t want to take for granted. First of all, it’s getting to know my parents as an adult. Learning stories I never knew and seeing how they hustle every day to do what they need to do. Second of all is realizing they are still parents, they still exercise patience with me and let me (sometimes) be a brat. Seeing their patience and how they are still here loving me and helping Frank and I…it’s a sort of strength I want to pass on to my kids. The last thing is seeing my husband interact with them. Having the three people I care most about in the world interact and love each other is something I never want to forget. It’s something not everyone has a chance to live and I want to make sure I pause to feel grateful.

I hope I can look back at this posts when I come home to spread my negative vibes from work to my mom who doesn’t deserve it and remind myself how lucky I am to be living through this “second adolescence” with parents that are generous enough to share their house, love, stories and strength with Frank and I.

 

-Sandi

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For the Love of L.A.

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I grew up with L.A. as a constant, not something I repped or something I felt that needed defending. It was the backdrop for all my experiences and a supporting character in the grander story of how my parents entered this country as refugees to eventual American citizens. All of this was something I never thought about growing up. It was my home and nothing more. I took it for granted.

It wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco to go to college that I started developing a longing and love for my hometown. San Franciscans are zealous and boisterous about their love for their city. That love is palpable in the energy that keeps the city moving. San Francisco is easy to love though. It’s beautiful, filled with rolling hills and clean air and gorgeous bay views. Los Angeles is big and hard to locate, it’s dirty and often the true view is blocked by the facade of a lewd industry. There’s traffic, dirty air and lots of people who have no interest in really getting to know anyone.

San Francisco is full of people in love with San Francisco, albeit complaining about rent but that’s always followed by, “but it’s worth it to live here.” Los Angeles is full of people complaining first and then mentioning the weather second as a small silver lining. I constantly hear people that are not from the Greater L.A. area complaining and talking about my hometown like they have it figured out. I usually say nothing though, because I’ve come to realize that a love and appreciating for this town has to come from your own perspective. It’s something you have to come to on your own, and that a lot of people never do. I’ll let people have their own relationship and hope that they get to a place where they can find their love for it. I just know that my love has grown from something I took for granted to something I appreciate and am grateful for.

A city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness. It all depends on where you sit and what your own private score is. – Raymond Chandler

Los Angeles is the place where my parents became who they are. The time I feel most connected is when I’m driving around with them and they tell me all the important, happy and sad moments that happened on L.A. streets. They can point to the first restaurant in mid-City where they had their first American meal. They can point to our tiny Hollywood apartment near a freeway where I came home to after I was born. My dad can point to the street where he had to run home because he had gotten off late and downtown was still dangerous, not yet trendy. It’s a love that can be appreciated in L.A.’s constant companion – your car.

L.A. will never be this pristine thing, it’s big and it’s dirty and it’s tough to find your place in it but I’ll always be proud. There’s lots of great pictures of L.A., bright sunny and shiny…but this is how I want to always remember L.A., nondescript and a little hazy letting you make it what you want it to be.

dtla

 

 

-Sandi

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