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.

The Humble Blueberry

May 31 2014 Portland, Oregon

The bright blue sky offers a welcoming entrance to the setting. The sun is also determined to send out vibrant radiance.

It’s a comfortable day to be comfortable and share that comfort with others.

She automatically tells me that I would find more interesting people around than her.

“It’s definitely a city where you’ll find a bunch of interesting characters.”

I quickly tell her that the most interesting people tend to be the ones that don’t overstate it through their attire and appearance.

She smiles amidst a background of green. The green leaves and the green grass listen in intently. Some leaves arrive by traveling with the wind. They come pouring in from all directions to hear the conversation.

She told me a story about the time she went to Spain. One of the days she had no plans. Her group wanted to get lost on purpose. That day ended being her favorite out of the whole trip because it was unpredictable. They found their own magical exploration.

That’s what life is about. If everything is linear all the time then you can’t find fun, random variables that makes life really shine through.

She calmly reaches into her bag to grab her lunch. Her lunch is twenty or so blueberries piled together in a plastic container.

While reaching for a blueberry, she asks me about my writing and what I plan to do with it.

I contemplate for a quick second before stating, “If aliens came around to visit I’d like to share my interactions with people to show the best side of humanity in a little storybook.”

She laughs and nods her head in approval.

(It’s crazy to think that I found out my elevator pitch and sidebar description through answering this fantastic question).

She lets me remember why I enjoy these little microscopic interactions in an indifferent universe. It gives me joy to share a moment with someone I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It’s a tiny, respectful way of finding great reflections within another person’s kind soul.

The blueberry on top of the whole thing is that I’m marveling at how charming it is to have twenty blueberries for lunch. It’s ridiculously simple.

You never know when someone is going to humble you with their grace.