Friday, April 18, 2014

A deep well of gratitude

I have returned to my home state. I've been intending to blog about my clarity and shift to move back to California since I had clarity. I wanted to write a blog post to the friends that I made in the Southwest and my new community there. Most of all, I want to express my appreciation and gratitude to all of the folks that I met for their warmth, kindness, openness, generosity, and conversations. Also, to all of the new friends that I met whose couches I stayed on the first couple of weeks I was in the Southwest. I've never done that before. Staying on couches of people who aren't friends, family members, or friends of friends. Yet, it felt right to stay with folks who I had contacted who are in the queer/trans community in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. I trust my core, my intuition. It was an adventure. I felt called to go forth to the Southwest. To experience what I was meant to experience there. Yet, it was all unknown until I lived it. Of course. The layers of unknowns upon unknowns.

I also felt that for me as a trans man, I was more comfortable and confident driving into a different part of the country being a visible man. I would've felt uncomfortable and would have probably experienced more discrimination if I was a visibly genderqueer, pre-T, and overall a visible queer. Even though I am a visible man, I don't feel comfortable driving solo through Texas though. As well as some Southern states. Perhaps, with a friend. Yet, I felt so many emotions when I first drove into the unknown, the desert, the Southwest! What would await me? Dust and a film shoot were what was known. My car was packed with my clothes, one comforter, a sleeping bag, and several boxes. The sky grew bigger and bigger and the landscape sparser as I headed deeper in the Southwest. I was in awe when I first arrived, of the sunrises and sunsets. The wildness of the landscape. The rocks! The big sky country. Yes, the sky is bigger in the Southwest. There is just the crust of Earth, the sky, and the heavens above. I feel it's the closest that one can be on the Earth yet also be close to the Heavens in a sense. A truly majestic place of wonder, beauty, and magical realism. I can envision opening a door and it leading just about anywhere!

It's interesting that as I am writing, I intended to write about my conclusion in the Southwest and I'm instead writing about the beginning of my adventures there. Full circle.

I returned to California during my birthday week in late March 2014 with so many more stories from my experiences in the Southwest. I kept looking out the window on the plane and was so full of gratitude for my first trip back to California since I had moved to the Southwest during October 2013. It had been almost 6 months and I hadn't returned to visit my parents or established friends in California. That's just how my life unfolded when I was living in Albuquerque. Even the plane arrived 30 minutes early to San Francisco due to favorable winds. I felt carried back to the Bay Area in a sense. The Bay Area to me feels like home. I felt so grateful and joyful to be back in the Bay for my birthday week. I could've kissed the Bay Area ground as I got off of the plane.

What I instantly noticed when I set foot in the SFO airport is the pace of life in the City. If the pace of life in Albuquerque is a treadmill that you are on, you are leisurely walking on the treadmill at a slow pace. Instantly, in the Bay Area, the pace had been upped 4-5 notches and it was a brisk speed walk. Arrive in NYC and the treadmill would be turned up another 4-5 notches to a running pace.

In the Bay Area I smelled the Jasmine in the air mixed with the smell of the Ocean. I could feel the water close by. I observed all of the different people on the Bart. Outside, I looked at the California poppies with love and gratitude. Such beautiful orange flowers. All of the white California license plates looked so dull to me in comparison to the vibrant turquoise blue or yellow New Mexican license plates. The pulse of the Bay Area was palpable. It is an area that is known to me. Yet, I explored on foot parts that were unknown to me near my friends' Aimee and Silvia's house off of Jones St. in Berkeley. I walked from the North Berkeley bart to their home several times. Exploring, being, and enjoying walking.

It was a blessing to visit the Bay. To see good friends. To visit my parents in Clovis/Fresno. For quite a while, I've been living with the questions of whether it was in my highest interest to continue to stick it out in Albuquerque and see if things would work out or move back to California.
Well, I finally got the clarity that I had been looking for, or more appropriately waiting for, for a while. My clarity crystallized in the Bay Area and during my visit to Clovis/Fresno in a sense. Serendipity, synchronicity, and powerful clarity.

2014 is the year for me to get Top Surgery and I'm going to get it through insurance through Covered California via Kaiser. I'm back in California, living in my hometown of Clovis/Fresno for a stint. Currently, I'm acclimating to being back in California and being in my hometown. I'm fine and super grateful to be in my hometown. I have a deeper appreciation and a well of gratitude that has been carved deep down into my soul. I was grateful before I left the Bay Area for my recent adventures, yet the Southwest carved me out, cleansed, purged, and released a lot. It's intangible, yet clear to me. Parts of me have been carved into canyons while living and being in the Southwest.
I will be in my hometown until I have the clarity and also the resources and opportunities to relocate to Los Angeles or to move back to the SF Bay Area for professional film/media opportunities.

As a professional filmmaker and photographer, there are more professional opportunities for me in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. I do not feel called to live in New York City. I'm from California and California is my home. That's some powerful clarity that could only have happened through recently living in a different culture and region of the U.S. I've travelled a lot. I've lived in Portland, Oregon for close to 3 years. I lived in Siena, Italy for 7 months when I was 20-21 and studied abroad in college. I lived in the Southwest for 6 months. In California, I've lived in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Berkeley, as well as my hometown of Clovis/Fresno. I'm grateful for all of my cross cultural experiences and for having the opportunity and experiences to live in different parts of this Country and world. It's definitely shaped me. I want to be in California and as a professional filmmaker, this is where I need to be right now.

Also, I've realized that life is hard everywhere! I thought that life would be easier in the Southwest in a sense since there isn't the urban stress of living in a big city. There is survival stress. The economic situation in the Southwest is incredibly challenging. A lot of people are out of work and it felt and was incredibly difficult to get any kind of job there. How things operate and flow is very different from how things work and flow in California, from my experience. The Southwest is a different world. It feels like a different country to me. I told my friend Rasa in Albuquerque, that it felt like a different world and she just laughed. Not at me. Just at hearing that perspective. Albuquerque is her hometown. She went to college in Colorado and Naturopathic school in Arizona. She has primarily lived in the Southwest the majority of her life.

I'm glad that I went and I'm glad to be back in California. I have no regrets. I have a lot more stories, experiences, and profound gratitude. My well of gratitude is deep. Deeper than it was when I left. Despite the incredible challenges, I'm glad that I went and I'm glad to be back. The journey continues.

Thanks for reading.

In light,