it was four years ago this summer that i left home. packed up my moleskins full of notes and reminders, said goodbye to lifelong friends, giggled awkwardly at my father’s successful attempt to lighten up our farewell by stuffing five dollars into my purse while joking that this would be an important moment to look back on for a cliched success story.
it was four years ago this summer that i landed in a new city, walked through neighborhoods i barely knew until i found a corner of the world that i would claim as mine. carefully selected the tools i would use to build my new life, and thoughtfully excluded those that might distract me. consciously curated my days around experiences that made my heart sing. paid attention to what muted the music.
i know some of the secrets now, some of the roads to my self, some of the roads that lead away.
i understand some of the detours that i needed to take. recognize some of the unconscious patterns woven tightly into my skin, how i could almost go through an entire lifetime without untangling them, and what a luxury to have the space to even identify them. acknowledged that there will always be more to uncover.
i have a treasure trove of memories, of lessons i will continue to learn, of streets i will always long to walk through.
and though i hope the city will forever feel like home, welcome me back the way it has since the moment i landed, the same instinct that guided me there also let me know when it was time to leave.
perhaps it was baba’s parting joke, or his crinkled red bill which i still carry with me, that made me constantly question, define and redefine what a success story means to me, and to realize that every story has its final page. perhaps it was the rate of change that i saw around me, and within me, that set off it’s own alarm, and like an end of term school bell ushered in both an ending and beginning of something promising just ahead. or perhaps it was my gratitude towards a city that gave me more than i knew to look for, gratitude that could only be returned through leaving, through not taking more than i need.
i thank you, and i love you, san francisco, for everything you gave me, and everything you’ve kept at bay.