Coming home is a strange jump back into time for me. My room looks the same along with the entirety of Winter Park ( + or – some new roads or a new house). I don’t buy new clothes very often so most of what I wear is the same. This trip home has been an especially big jump back in time for some reason. Maybe it’s because I have graduated college and now feel a heightened level of nostalgia for the past. Whatever the case is, I woke up today and decided to lean into this nostalgia. I threw on soccer shorts and a workout shirt from my junior year in high school along with my favorite pair of worn out sambas. I ran into the garage and found my bike. Let me clarify- this isn’t just an old bike. It’s my almost 12 year old bike who has been there every pedal and step of the way for all of my adventures rain or shine. Of course after two years or so of not being used, the tires were flat and the gears were rusted over. After quickly pumping the tires up, I headed off. Not even a block away, one of my best friends called me asking where I was and if I wanted to meet up. Impulsively, I turned around and headed his way so we could meet up in a parking lot about a mile away. Growing up I used to try to sprint bike certain sections of the neighborhood and replicated that pattern today. I weaved in and out of streets and sidewalks avoiding whatever cars slowly rolled by. I biked fast. I biked with no hands. I biked and felt the wind in my face. I smiled. I missed this. I missed the quiet and the safety of the neighborhood I was lucky enough to grow up in. I missed meeting up with friends at a moments notice only to be greeted with a big hug and a long conversation. I’ve realized the older I get that the best kind of friends are the ones who you may not see all the time but when you do see them you pick right back up where you left off. Steven is that kind of friend and so much more (pictured here).
After meeting up and talking for a bit, we parted ways but not after a couple of hugs and “see ya laters” were shared. I started to bike back and felt like I was in touch with who I am at my core. I’ve been living in San Francisco for the last 6 months and I realized that I am often fearful to go out and do things. I am paralyzed with social anxiety and feel exhausted most of the time. Being home, I felt like I could bike and go anywhere at any time. It’s also so quiet here that I feel like I can hear myself think. I remembered meeting up with Steven that I love adventure and I love having fun (as weird as that sounds). I’m not someone who shies away and I’m not sure how I became that person during college. Being back on that bike made me feel like I was back on my adventures from middle school and high school. With these feelings in mind, I took a turn and headed towards one of my favorite places: Glenhaven Memorial. Glenhaven is a beautiful and peaceful cemetery where I’d often go to write and just think. It didn’t disappoint tonight with its beauty. When I started to bike away, I stopped and looked at the moon above and the sun setting below just one more time. I couldn’t help it.
I went back out later that night after arguing with my parents about how silly of a social construct “class” is. One of my best friends picked me up at around 9 and we drove around talking until 11:30 or so. We have a very complicated relationship to say the least. She’s the kind of friend who has been there through the lowest of the lows and the highest of the highs when we were growing up. We get each other at a different level than most as a result. Being able to catch up and talk about anything and everything for a non stop 2.5 hours was liberating. I jumped out of the car and gave her a huge hug before walking into Austen’s coffee shop to meet up again with Steven and another friend named Jay from highschool. We were supposed to be working when we decided to meet up at Austen’s. Work was quickly forgotten as soon as we all began to catch up and swap interesting tidbits we had been learning about (books, articles, music, theories, etc.). Nothing was off limits. Our own parents were discussed as well as parenting in general. Linguistic relativity was thrown into the mix when talking about how relationship oriented Chinese is and how not having a word for how you are feeling is a strange sensation. We talked freely and quickly often having to ask another person to repeat what they said. We eventually left and headed to a nearby park we used to go to growing up. It was Florida cold (50 degrees) and we walked through the soccer fields avoiding the night time sprinklers to get there. It was impulsive, adventurous, and completely clean fun. It wasn’t until nearly 3:30am that we finally called it a night only after agreeing to do this again.
I’m not 16 anymore. I’ve changed a ton since then: switching from soccer to rugby, coming out to my friends and family, dating people, losing my grandfather, my knee surgery, graduating, jobs (lots of jobs). I realized the point of today wasn’t to relive being 16 but to rekindle the spirit of adventure that I grew up with. I missed those bike rides and impromptu meet ups with people I love. Meetups not meetup.com meetups. Hangouts not Google Hangouts. Connection away from connecting to the internet. I felt like I was sitting next to the core of who I am on that bike ride today. I felt refreshed and not exhausted seeing my friends. San Francisco has made me feel like I’ve been playing catch up for so long that I haven’t had time to catch my breath. Here’s to finding that spirit of adventure and freedom in San Francisco.