Kara

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May 29th 2013. Berkeley CA.

About 12:45pm.

Her red hair and sense of curiosity intrigues me and all I do is lean against this stop sign pole and overthink the situation. “It’s too late now because it’ll be strange,” I say to myself.

It’s a sunny day with welcoming rays that are trying to peek through the clouds and send me a box full of bravery.

Something tells me this is too important. If I leave now I’d regret this more than almost anything else.

All of my body is aching to leave after deliberating this for 10 minutes standing against this stop sign. At this rate I might as well be a parked car but before my mind gives itself its own metaphorical ticket something clicks.

—–

I walk into the noodle bar and our eyes meet across the table. She is chatting with another friendly person recommending spots to her to see. I tell her she has given me the most interesting vibe of any person for a while and it would be awesome to chat for a bit.

She smiles widely and says, “What took you so long?” 1 My mind is shocked at this statement because there’s a big chance she noticed me conflicting over my own decisions outside the noodle bar.

She welcomes me by saying she is from out of town and introduces herself.

Kara: “I’m Kara.”
Me: “What brings you here?”
Kara: “I’m on vacation, visiting San Francisco.”

She continues that she has a friend in Berkeley. I ask her if she has visited Telegraph Ave. yet.

—–

We end up walking together towards Telegraph Ave.

She turns to me and asks, “So what keeps you able to be available at this type of hour? Are you a student?”

“Night shift job.” 2

Then I ask her what is going on with her life.

She speaks about going through a few different jobs and then finding her way back to college after a couple of years in community college. 3

The construction crew working across from us constructs a new upgraded building to the side of the older one. It reminds me of expansion packs in video games, expanding horizons in life, and expanding perspectives.

New constructs and new perspectives occur.

—–

We head into the tattoo parlor, Zebra, that sells a wide variety of gauges, piercings, and other metallic objects. 4 While Kara is buying some bright blue gauges during her travels, I look around for perspective.

Two happy friends are excited to get a flower tattoo. If I recall it was a rose or maybe it was a daisy. The gentlemen to the left is staring heavily at the larger gauges. The salesperson looks at me and then walks off to lunch. The whole atmosphere is definitely Berkeley.

Next, we stroll into one of those family owned Tibetan shops. The clerk quickly looks at the both of us staring at the singing bowls and asks if we know how to play one. We both shake our heads sideways and he promptly grabs the bowl, places it on Kara’s left hand and starts rolling the stick around it.

The echo-like binaural wavelengths vibrate soothing sounds all around us.

After a few attempts both of us succeed in letting the bowl hum its own music.

We step out into the sunlight where I realize I have to be going to get to work. Kara asks me for my contact info to meet once more before she leaves to her hometown.

—–

June 2nd 2013. San Francisco CA.

12:50pm.

I rise to the street level from the BART ride into the city. I notice I’m a little early. I feel the full energetic crowd, some of them tourists, some of them trying to entertain the crowd, and others trying to line up for the cable car ride.

The bells ring and the tracks screech to a gradual stop. The first 20 people or so step up to take their place on the cable car. It hurries away towards the hill in the distance.

After a few minutes looking out into the crowd, I turn around and look towards the escalator.

Kara’s figure climbs up the escalator starting with her lovely sun hat.

It is incredibly sunny for San Francisco standards on this day. Considering we are in the downtown part of the city, we both agree that the new Japanese retail store is a must see. 5

The store has three different floors with a variety of stairs to climb up into more vivid, bright variety of designs. The borders of the stairs contain more colors to encourage you to go upward.

Kara buys a jolly ranch coloring scheme consisting of green, purple, and orange pants. After she throws that into her souvenir packed luggage we head up towards Union Square.

We decide that it’s a good place to sit and enjoy the sunlight.

—–

This begins a two hour conversation full of epic stories and perspectives. At first the conversation starts with simpler things like music (Grimes), work, and school. Then it becomes a huge philosophical chat about dating, religion, and topics that many frequent less. However there is one part of the conversation that holds utmost importance.

She describes to me her favorite memory about Paradise, her old hometown, how it brought her back to the best moments of her life. She talks about how the memory brings her back to her closeness with her siblings and the enjoyable time they had in Paradise.

My brain gets vague here since I notice her eyes sparkle with enjoyment. The way she describes this memory brings her back into her own state of euphoria. To bring Kara back to Paradise, even literally, is incredibly fulfilling.

—–

We slowly stroll back to the BART station because she has to go to the airport. We walk down the stairs as the trains howl all around us. She places her newly purchased BART ticket into the machine. The bumpers that block the entrance go inward to let her through. Then they go back out.

Before Kara’s figure goes down the escalator stairs, I quickly say to her, “Hey wait up.”

She turns around while walking back towards me. I look her in the eyes and say, “See you around.” Before I get a reply, I happily jog up the stairs.

—–

From a personal perspective I found redemption.

—–

[Disclosure: Kara gave me permission to use her name. I wasn’t compensated for mentioning any commercial businesses.]

Notes:

  1. To this day, I am still pleasantly shocked by this reply.
  2. In hindsight, this reply made me self-conscious enough to get a better job.
  3. The best investment in my opinion.
  4. The whole memory feels shiny because if I recall the lighting was bright.
  5. Uniqlo.

Robots

Berkeley, CA June 30th 2013

At a small cafe, I met a kind gentleman and we discussed robots for two hours.

We talked about the robots that already used algorithms to “communicate” with one another.

So much of our daily lives already has robotics all around it.

It’ll be interesting to see how much they’ll dictate our lives in the next 20 years or so.

I wonder if they will become fully autonomous. Will they be friendly? Will they be less than friendly? Only time will tell.

The best argument that this gentleman had was that it would be neither.

I fully agree with him in this regard.

If it were my opinion, robots would cause us harm based on no morals.

He argued that since robots have no real morality at this point in time, if they were to continue on the path of gaining intelligence then it would come down to indifference.

If they are trained to find and experiment with something the robots could easily experiment with something that indirectly also harms us.

A little less than ideal of course but not so malicious either.

It was an interesting chat at the cafe and we shall see how the robots turn out.

Astonishment

March 4th, 2015 1:40 PM

Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA

Wait was that her in the corner of my eye?

Yeah it was Maria.

Hey Maria!

We exchanged greetings.

Next to us was Blue Bottle Coffee, one of the best local coffee chains in the city. I quickly ordered a hot coffee to get myself ready for awesome conversation. I kindly offered her a coffee as well but she politely declined.

We continued to discuss her astonishment about San Francisco and the joy she found residing in an amazing city for a couple of weeks. Luckily one of her friends was able to stay for a work related visit and she decided to make that her opportunity to come to the city.

It is unbelievable to see her passion about San Francisco because she gives a magical-like vibe about what she saw around the city.

She truly loved Haight-Ashbury. The grittiness and weirdness of that area pulsates through wanderer’s hearts. She was one of them.

It was amazing to hear her stories about being an online tutor that teaches Spanish. I was amazed because it came from someone so passionate about living a life that allows you to see places and travel quite often.

Her ability to teach others is what impressed most because it felt so genuine when she spoke about her desire to teach to others in person again. She liked the whole Skype session type of classes yet missed the real, authentic experience.

As we walked past AT&T park, home of the San Francisco Giants, we stumbled upon a very interesting conversation about culture.

It was about where you draw the line between the concept of independence and finding your own definition of independence. It was something that had been on my mind for a while as well and she clarified so much to me by giving her view about it. A good portion of people in her city didn’t move out until they got married.

She defined independence on her own terms. This allowed her to combine her desire to help people and travel around the world. It was very inspiring to hear about how she was able to combine teaching others another language while living a nomadic dream.

It was amazing to meet Maria because she helped me regain great perspective about so many topics. She revived the novelty and wonder that I had taken for granted by living around the area for so long.

Something as simple as a 90 minute walk around San Francisco with a lovely person transformed into regained astonishment.

Thank you Maria.

—-

If you would like to learn Spanish and were interested in an online tutor, check out her website, Maria Ortega Garcia.

Momentary

January 2012

San Francisco, CA

She felt and looked like a fairy. Her white hair flowed out into the sky like a wild dandelion. She also helped me out with opening my beer. So she was a beer fairy with this flickering streak of hair.

Little did I know that walking around the Mission district and Dolores Park with her ended up being a weird progression that felt too linear for its own good.

In the end of it all, she stared at me straight in the eyes and said, “You’d be great at chess.”

It’s the point both of us knew that the moment would’ve been perfect. Everything was executed perfectly. Both of us showed interest in one another and then all of a sudden on the final farewell as she was walking into the bus, it all stuttered.

It was too perfect. The moment felt too typical and shallow.

The moment on paper was beautiful. The moment in reality was mediocre.

We stared into each other’s eyes and knew we both played out the concept of attraction.

However, I am pretty sure we both knew as she climbed up the stairs of that bus that we only were playing the part.

I described what happened. I’ll keep it free from a label.

Fleeting

It’s fleeting.

All the interactions I attempted and will continue to attempt will be fleeting.

January 14th, 2012

San Francisco, CA

Everyone below I met only once. The early 2012 version of myself was still too innocent to understand this concept. I needed to live this day out to realize I was an extra in the whole scheme of two different situations. We are all extras in other people’s situations unless we are invited into the inner group.

Alexandra and her cousin met me at one of the diners on Haight St. The conversation was basically about her time in San Francisco. She shared some stories about how she enjoyed it so far. After her cousin shared a bit about himself too. They ordered a dish of french toast.

Something hit me when they offered to share their french toast with me. It felt like it was running out. Something felt like it was running off into the wilderness.

It’s the moment of clarity when I knew today was going to be fleeting.

I barely grabbed a small piece of that french toast and that’s when I knew my efforts were going to end up becoming some indifferent pile of inner art unless I understood the mission. I chewed the french toast in deep thought.

After leaving the diner, the two of them were kind enough to walk around and chat with me about this idea of meeting everyone. One of them said that it may not be worth the trouble to meet so many people because you never really get to know them authentically.

In rebuttal, one interaction is all you need to change the course of a person’s actions through giving them different ideas and perspectives.

I thanked them for meeting up with me.

A few blocks around the corner I entered a cafe where Abagail and her boyfriend were sitting.

I remember guiding them through areas I’ve been before by retracing my paths that I took a couple of years back in the city.

I found a bus for them that would take us to the Sutro Baths. Those ruins have a beautiful landscape that gives you the type of perspective that changes lives.

We slowly climbed up the elevated mountain for a spectacular view.

The vivid oranges, purples, and pinks highlighted the sky with a fantastic glow. The beach gleamed with liveliness.

Abagail came from a different country for her opportunity to be here. She made it work for her. Both of them made it work. She had an artistic personality and her boyfriend was a photographer.

The one thing I remember etched into my brain or at least paraphrased into my brain:

She said something along the lines of, “You have to go for what you like no matter what, you can’t let anything hold you back.”

She was right.

After a few months, I lost contact with everyone. The small victories are knowing that almost everyone is fleeting. I am glad they gave me an opportunity to be a tiny page in their personal novels.

They helped me understand the fleeting concept.