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?”[ref]To this day, I am still pleasantly shocked by this reply.[/ref] 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.” [ref]In hindsight, this reply made me self-conscious enough to get a better job.[/ref]

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. [ref]The best investment in my opinion.[/ref]

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. [ref]The whole memory feels shiny because if I recall the lighting was bright.[/ref] 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. [ref]Uniqlo.[/ref]

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.]

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.

Curiosity Awakens the Kat

Portland, Oregon June 1st

2:40pm

The Pioneer Courthouse was brimming with people sitting down eating lunch, sipping on coffee, or chatting about the glorious weather.

I was looking out in the distance. Just past the Starbucks, I noticed a petite figure waving her hand full of energy.

For some hilarious reason we inadvertently both dressed up in mostly black to contrast the colorful and vivid afternoon.

She politely took off her glasses and quickly glanced at me for the usual first impressions.

We started walking towards the millions of food trucks that Portland has to offer and stopped at one of her favorites, a Mediterranean truck. We both order our gyros and speak about her ride down.

We ended up deciding to seat on a metallic table that had the wind blowing from many different directions trying to wake us up.

After grabbing me another diet cola and getting herself some weird form of mineral water the chat goes into anime. The magic of Nodame Cantabile, an anime with classical music and solid plot progression, was discussed.
Over the course of many years the two main characters slowly developed their relationship through their own genius by playing classical music. The ridiculous amount of character development made that anime stand above the rest.

Art has a certain way of bringing people together to share their stories.

We continued to walk around Portland and she told me about how she is a homebody that stays home the majority of the time.

She is a queasy child, queasy of people, queasy of life.

She spoke to me about her fears. She spoke to me about her best memories. She would lead me to one of those memories.

5:00pm

In a vulnerable state as the sun is setting upon the sky, she brought me to a favorite fountain of hers that she would always go to during her childhood. It was her place to have tranquility.

It was incredibly peaceful.

The fountain had a particular structure around it where you could only really see its beauty from one point of view. The only way to get there was to walk around the back side to see the beautiful frontal view of the gushing water.

I sat there for ten minutes to really appreciate her gesture to show me her personal spot. The sun reflected at an angle where the gushing fountain held a monolithic shadow that shaded me to help me reflect.

It felt like her spirit because underneath the protective shell, she had such a quiet, welcoming demeanor.

She continually wished that I lived in Portland to be able to get to know me more and introduce me to her circle of friends.

I wished the same too.

6:24pm

The train is slowly inched its way towards the station we stood upon. We embraced and said our goodbyes.

Unlike the anime series, time wasn’t on our side. We did our best within four hours to keep the ticking clock at bay and experience a life where we were both around the same city.

We gave each other a chance to awaken the other.

I hope the fleeting interaction gave her an endless vitality to live life with energy.

Natural

August 2011, Milpitas CA

1:12PM

I walk into a Starbucks neatly attached to the side of a mall to meet Peter.

He patiently waits at one of the few tables in the smaller, cozier environment. After ordering my small coffee, I take a seat across from him. The first thing we talk about is the Beltran trade that the San Francisco Giants executed during that 2011 midseason. In hindsight it didn’t really work out for them but both of us agreed during that moment that it was a reasonable trade. It seemed like they were one trade away from repeating as champions.

His posture holds stoic confidence as he laughs about his own blog. He has a couple of posts about his own dealings with poker and traveling through some shadier areas of a couple of Asian countries.

We stroll the mall to change the scenery as he speaks to me about my newly discovered courage.

“So tell me what gave you the courage to randomly chat up people offline and online because talking to people in broad daylight is something that makes me a bit nervous.”

I told him that, “It actually didn’t come naturally to me but I continued to take my less than stellar experiences and learn from them in order to make future ones feel more natural. As time goes along you can learn to converse with anyone. You do things slowly by taking systematic baby steps to get things going like saying hi then asking ‘how are you?’ then having a real conversation with someone.”

He gladly grins back at me and tells me he would write that in his own blog.

——

For a naturally social person like him to say, “You’re good. Everyone is a bit nervous at first. You’re talking to me like a natural.” was an important boost to knowing I had the skills.

Almost any skill can be learned if you trust your progress. Peter helped me trust in that progress when it was still in its infancy.

[You can find more about Peter at Peter J Lu.]

Learning to Lead

March 08 2012 3:40PM

I enter into the cafeteria and I see an intriguing looking girl that catches my eye. She is wearing tall black boots, a black sweater, and a black shirt.

She looks at the sushi stand and figures which type of sushi she’d like to have.

This is where I ask her about her pink hair and if she goes to Burning Man.

She looks at me weird and tells me that she isn’t someone who goes to Burning Man. She laughs and says, “So many people ask me that!”

We chat about where both of us are from. Then she tells me, “I’ll be eating this outside. You can follow me if you want.”

[I didn’t realize that I was being a follower. Being a follower is not always a bad thing. However in this situation it seems like an act of weakness.]

After talking for another ten minutes at the tables, she finishes her sushi. We walk onto the field while she smokes a cigarette.

On the field, the conversation gets sexual and tons of flirting ensues. We’re both one another. I tell her that she is a troublemaker. She looks and stares at me relentlessly. The tension builds. We continue to stare at one another for a minute.

[I could have went in for the quick kiss here or something else. If you build it like this and don’t make a move, whether that is a kiss or a peck on the cheek or taking her hand, you’re falling behind. You’re not leading anymore.]

But I didn’t. I left it awkward.

You must take the lead if the girl wants you to advance. If not, the magic moment flickers away.