Weekend Wanderer Vol. 5 Brit-by-the-Bay
I gotta go through the fire and raise the flame,
Let it burn real deep then skip over the pain,
I gotta break through.
-Mary J. Blige "My Life"
Life is full of highs and lows, it's the order of the Universe. The rough times that we face are the building blocks to our character. Spiritual growth doesn't happen when the sun is high and the birds are chirping. No, transformation happens in the dark, when we are left inside our caves to delve deeper into the being that is our own. We study our thoughts, our feelings towards our current circumstances, and we provide comfort to ourselves. And after all of that, we come out shining brighter than we ever had.
But then there are times of darkness you think you'd never overcome. In the midst of the storm, it's hard to see a way out. These are the times that are the most pivotal of all. The love that we receive from others this time gives us a life jacket to survive, but we must swim to shore on our own. I lost my dad this Summer, after a three-year battle with cancer. Just after returning from my three-month voyage in Europe. And although I knew he was sick, there's no way to ever prepare yourself for the loss of a parent. When I got the news, I felt an overwhelming variety of feelings - disbelief, sadness, anger, guilt. Had I not taken the job in Milan, I could've spent his last days with him. I could've shown him how much he meant to me by holding his hand every night. He was so strong throughout the fight, how did his condition decline so rapidly? Could my spirit had helped him recover? I asked myself these questions over and over again. And prayed for him to send me a sign - show me that I was wrong and that he was proud of me. That he was watching me and protecting me. I waited for that sign to be my antidote for the pain I was feeling.
My heart was shattered. I thought I had more time with him. I thought he'd be at my wedding and the birth of my first child. I thought he'd help me move into my first home. These are all things that we expect our parents (or any loved one) to do for us. But when life shifts and they're taken from the physical, does our life end too? In a way it does, you lose a little piece of yourself that you never knew was attached to someone else. But instinctively, you know to find the love within yourself to fill that space and heal that wound. And that's exactly what I did.
Those three months of traveling were the closest I've ever felt to true liberation. I felt I had found my path, it was lined with golden bricks and fluttering butterflies. I felt bliss. But then a wave came over me and washed it all away. I stood there soaking, but I stood. I did not fall, I did not break. My heart opened a little more than it was before, I was ready to regain my stride. While standing there in my lonesome, I felt a sense of protection, fatherly protection. I knew it could only be the spirit of my father that has found his way back to me to guide me with the love of my ancestors. Rest in Paradise, Daddy.
It took me a few months of solidarity, meditation, and introspection to rebuild my path, but I did. Even when I felt extreme travel withdrawal, I knew I had to get my heart and mind right before I could face the world again. The love I gave to myself during this time is what gave me momentum to go again. And I can say today, that I am not fully healed and don't know if I ever will be, but I am moving forward knowing that my dad is with me sharing his love and guidance with me. And I am thankful to be able to do so. This is vol. 5 of my Weekend Wanderer series featuring a road trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea and San Francisco with my mom and sister who came out west to shower me with love and comfort.
If you are a lover of the raw and untouched beauty of nature, visit Point Lobos in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA. When I decided to take my mom and sister on a road trip to the Bay, I knew I wanted to make one stop on the way. After my mom raved to me about the beauty of Monterey Bay, I knew I had to see it for myself. I remembered seeing photos of Point Lobos in a travel book I own, so I called it an omen and we set out on our voyage. We drove hours north of LA and came across this gem on the coastline. The view was stunning! I stood there and took in the tremendous beauty of my view. The sea and all of its vastness was captivating, to say the least. And I was even happier when I turned to my right and saw that I was experiencing this beauty with two people whom I love dearly.
The waves glimmered as they crashed into massive rock structures, I snapped a few photos of this (above) before exploring deeper into the space around me. I found myself on a rock at sea level where I thought of how far I've come, not physically (even though that ride was stupid, dumb long) but in terms of my spiritual growth. But looking out over the sea, I saw how far I still have to go. I stood proudly in my wisdom, yet humbly in my naiveness. I knew I was exactly where I needed to be at that exact point in time. Then we continued our travels to San Francisco.
San Francisco, CA
I've been in Cali for almost three years now, and this is the first time I've been to the Bay. Terrible, I know. But it's better late than never, right? I can't say why I've waited as long as I did, everyone would always tell me how much I would love it. But I can say this, I will be back - again and again. I love this place more than any other place I've been to in the US. The innate charm of this city takes me back to my European adventures. The cable cars, some right from Milan, IT itself, the orgasmic three-story homes, the alluring architecture, I loved every bit of it. After taking the BART in from Daly City (where we were staying) to Union station, we decided to grab a bite to eat before making our way to Lombard St. On my way to some vegan joint, I found the most perfect hand-made statement necklace at a street vendor from Africa - it was a bit pricy but I treat myself to a little souvenir everywhere I go 😊.
After devouring our food, we took the cable car from Powell St. & Market St to Hyde & Lombard to visit the crookedest street in the world. When we finally arrived, I thought to myself "yeah this street is crooked af." I took my time going down the street filled with gorgeous, vine-covered homes and even managed to snap a few shots on the way down. I laughed as cars drove 5 miles per hour as back-seat passengers hung their torsos out of the window for the perfect shot, some shxt I would do. I loved it, we even got the chance to speak to a resident of one of the homes who was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the history and even traffic on the block.
Our last sight seeing destination of the day was Coit Tower, which was about a 20-minute walk from Lombard St. all uphill! We managed to make it to the top just in time for a breathtaking sunset, and by then we had worked up just enough hunger to eat our weight in food. So we stopped at a quaint restaurant nearby before heading back to our seaside AirBnB in Daly City.
Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco, CA
My favorite stop during this trip had to be the Japanese Tea Garden. We got an early start to our day, and thankfully we were able to make it to the gardens before 10 am to get in free for the day. I'm telling you, I would've paid if I had to. This place was like nothing I've ever seen before. It was like traveling through a vortex as I stepped into the sanctuary. An instant sense of peace and gratitude fell over me. I was in my element. We strolled around the premises slowly, to make sure there was nothing we missed. We even sat at the cafe for some Miso soup and Dorayaki. It was the perfect start to our day.
We then set off for a little more sight seeing. Of course, the Golden Gate Bridge was the second stop, and I won't tell you that the bridge isn't really golden, I feel like we already know that already. But I would say that not only the structure itself is beautiful but the scenery around it is just as jaw-dropping. Checked that one off my list then headed to Fishermen's Wharf where my mom was able to snag some souvenirs and my sister and I got San Fran themed caricatures. Finally, my mom wanted us to see where she and my three oldest siblings lived when in Oakland and Lake Merrit where she routinely took them when they were younger. I loved taking that stroll down memory lane with her and watched as her eyes lit up as she realized she had now been there with all of her children. Before we set back out on the road, I thought it would be nice to see the UC Berkley campus, which was lovely and well worth the drive. And then I took (another one) for the team and drove 6.5 hours back to LA and crashed on my bed.
I couldn't have asked for a better experience