Monday, May 23, 2011

The San Francisco Treat... Or, How Andrea Got Her Cumbia Back

Author's note: This week's Blog was supposed to be "A Different Kind of Birther" but I changed my mind.  
Last week I was in San Francisco for a poetry reading and writing workshop.  I was hopeful that the trip would be a good one, but I never expected it to be as good as it was.  I traveled by myself to the the beautiful Bay area, and while I was meeting friends there (we were doing the reading together), I knew I was going to be on my own a lot.  "No problem," I thought, "I'll go out and explore!"   This has happened before - I travel to a large city, end up with a lot of time on my own and all these fantasies of going out and exploring a new place, perhaps meeting a handsome local and then exploring the city together.   This fantasy somehow also involves me wearing a hat (I don't really wear hats) and I'm usually very happy and confident walking the streets (think: the opening sequence to the Mary Tyler Moore Show).  The ugly truth is this: I don't do well on my own. 

Times when I've traveled on my own, I have found myself feeling completely isolated and lonely.  I set out full of hope and excitement and find myself very quickly feeling alone and well, sad.  I end up exploring for just a short while then I find a cafe where I sit and send text messages to people back home - and when I say people, I mean guys that I'm dating (but usually don't really like, but when I'm traveling, all of a sudden he's wonderful).

That was before the Strike. 

Funny thing, this strike.  It has unlocked all sorts of lessons and healing for me - and has helped me change behaviors I didn't even realize I was engaging in.  I've written about several of these (hooking up with guys I don't really like, thinking less of myself, settling for less than I deserve, etc.) but new ones come up all the time.  Spending eight months without dating (although I "ended" the Strike, I still haven't really begun dating) and doing so with the intent of learning about myself has taught me one really awesome lesson: I am GREAT on my own.

I know, I've written about the benefits of being single before, and I still stick by them, but I've now learned that not only can I travel alone, I can go out and explore an entire city by myself - and like love it!  I loved everything about the Bay area - the food was amazing, the city is beautiful, there are so many things to see, and I met some really awesome people.  I never felt the urge to send a text, reach out or call anyone (except my mom).  I spent a considerable amount of time in Berkeley as well as the Mission District.  I also got to spend time with my friends (M. and I explored as many murals as we could in the Mission) and while that was wonderful, so was the time I spent on my own. 
Mural, Balmy Alley, Mission District

I've written before that because of the Strike, I've been completely closed off and existed behind walls.  Building the walls was a necessity, but there is a fine line between getting over heartbreak and being closed off forever.  I had no desire to meet anyone; nothing felt new; I didn't feel friendly or attractive, and I had no interest in dating.  I wrote several blogs back about tearing down my walls, but as is the case with me, I never do anything easily, and tearing down my walls was proving to be much harder than I thought it would be.

I tried giving myself pep talks - telling myself that I was ready and happy and strong, and I am, but I still felt guarded and lonely.  I tried reaching out, smiling more, talking about it and really, nothing felt right.  I was beginning to accept the fact that my new reality existed of being alone, and that was just going to have to be okay.

Then I went to the Bay.

I felt so happy there, and even when I felt like I was in a slump (M. was there, and she gave me a very simple pep talk - "it's okay to feel this way," she said) I still felt free and unguarded.  At the writing workshop and poetry reading, I got to meet so many wonderful people and I got the chance to reconnect with old friends, but more importantly, I found myself smiling again.  I found myself opening up and coming back to life.  I felt happy and carefree and alive.  I allowed myself to be open and because of it, I came home feeling open, free from my walls.

I'm heading back to the Bay in two weeks for my friend D.'s wedding and I look forward to seeing some of the people I met, exploring more parts of the city and best of all, getting reacquainted with myself.

To be continued...

Next time: A Different Kind of Birther (for real, this time)


  1. Ohhh! That's awesome! I'm really happy for you!

  2. Yay! Sometimes you have to feel those feelings, validate you feel that way and then you can move on. I'm so glad you had a wonderful time and I hope it is just as good in a few weeks. I have no doubt you will make the most and best out of it :-)