May 29th 2013. Berkeley CA.
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.
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.]