San Francisco’s Game


My alarm blared by my ears, and I hit the snooze button. It went off again; I hit the snooze. The continuous battle between time and sleep left me dreading myself for setting such an early time to leave. Frantically getting ready, I receive a text saying he’s here. Already worried about the drive over, I began stressing over awkward silences and overall branching out of my shell to get through an entire day with this person I barely knew. The drive to San Francisco wasn’t as bad as I overthought, and he even explained the current and past circumstances with his ex-girlfriend. From what I knew and what I was hearing, all I was thinking was that he didn’t deserve to be treated in the way she lead on. And the fact that he trusted me with all this showed he’s a passionate person, convincing me that maybe I don’t have to put my walls all the way up around him. We eventually get to the college, and none of it felt real. We ventured around the campus, walking into almost every building, absorbing all that I can and trying to make it a reality that I will be living within these buildings. Excitement enthralled me, as I begin to understand that this is my life, my future, and I can leave everything else back in Fresno. But as far as my new friend who willingly jumped on this experience with me, I knew I’d miss him and a few others. So we eventually leave the college and head to Ghirardelli upon his wishes. Chocolate instantly drove my senses, and it was already a blessing to get a sample. We came across a store selling minuscule love notes that we found overly adorable and amusing at the same time. When he said he wanted to buy one, I thought it was for his ex in all honesty. It’s just the way he talks about her; like he just wants her back. Then I just felt all awkward, not knowing how to deal with comforting people and such. Anyways, we decide to leave, considering the parking meter was just about done, and head to Fisherman’s Wharf. Walking down Pier 39, we come across an area with light-up candles and a mirror maze. Noeah makes fun of me for “running” into one of the mirrors even though I just simply walked into it. We also heard a child’s thud against a mirror, amusing us. With the meter out once again, we drive in circles, trying to find a way to drive or walk the Golden Gate Bridge and end up at a beautiful park just below it. Unable to find a parking slip machine, we leave and head to the Walt Disney museum. We walk out and begin venturing out to the area, arguing about falling leaves and laughing about a missile sculpture that looked like brown crayons. Noeah couldn’t stop laughing, and although the crayons looked a bit strange, I was more laughing about how he found it so hysterical. “This kid is ridiculous,” I thought. He seems happy, and he laughs a lot. I wish it were so with me. We have about an hour left from the parking meter, so we grab our blankets, create a lame “snacknic,” and lay them across the vibrant green grass and play “Cruise, Sleep, or Marry,” a typical game he always seems to love to play. Realizing the time, we figured it wouldn’t hurt to start heading home, and we made a Starbucks stop beforehand. Then I call Scott to see what he’s up to, and meet up with him back at Fisherman’s Wharf. We head towards HardRock café, and there’s a man in front of a store, selling roses. He puts one in front of my face, I kindly say “No, thank you” and continue to walk away, but Noeah suddenly decides to stop, look at the man, then back at me. All I was thinking was, “No. Shit. Stop. No. Gosh dang it,” but then he hands me the rose and I couldn’t help to just be grateful for his sweetness. Finally meeting with Scott, we spend the evening watching performers, eating overly-sated fries, and watching several people try to win a minion from the crane. Time was ticking, the sun disappeared, and the night grew cold. We said our goodbyes and good nights to Scott and head back towards the car. Initially, we thought we were at a different street, as we couldn’t find Wendy. We then start searching every nearby street for the car, and the two-hour parking time was up. We notify our moms about the situation, and while Noeah’s mom was just worried about his well-being, my mom brutally insulted me and practically “took away” Africa and college from me. I felt awful for Noeah, having to listen to me argue with my mom. I wasn’t able to shed some tears, even though I really wanted to. My heart and mind was only thinking about this atrocious night and how my high school work was basically being extirpated, as if it never happened. We figured Wendy may have been towed, and head to the police station. According to them, she hasn’t been reported towed and there may be a chance that we’re just “missing the streets because it’s busy tonight,” as she said. She hands us a map and a complementary SFPD pen, and head back to the Wharf. I continue arguing with my mom while Noeah took care of checking off the map while continuously hitting the panic button in hopes for Wendy’s alarm. My guilt was overrunning me, as this unfortunate event happened to him, but I didn’t know how to show sympathy. It was the last possible street, and we immediately realize there wasn’t a chance that Wendy was there, so we sit on the windowsill outside of a brick building. He calls his manager, and his phone dies a few seconds after. I begin typing a message to Scott, and my phone dies in the middle of it. At that point, I was too upset to eat, but Noeah was hungry and we needed to borrow a phone, so we enter In N Out. Luckily, I wrote down Scott’s and a few others’ phone numbers on my hand, and after social anxiety started to attack me, I eventually just got my desperate ass up and asked a few teenage girls across from us to borrow one of their phones. Of course, Scott doesn’t answer and I just leave a voicemail after the second try. A group of drunk women and their friends sit next to us, and with my exhaustion, they just increased my irritation to the extreme and my need for a bathroom sky-rocketed. Thankfully, we leave and I try to find a bush, but there really wasn’t one in the city. We search for inns and hotels, and I was able to use a restroom, and we figured we could just stay in iHop or walk around until daylight. Throughout the night, he would walk closest to the sidewalk, and I didn’t know he even knew about that specific “gentleman rule”, nonetheless carried it out. “Who is this guy and how did he get raised so perfectly,” were one of the thoughts that was running through my mind. As we continued to walk, a homeless man sitting outside Rainforest Café says something, and I intended to keep walking and ignore the man, but Noeah stops. “What the heck are you doing oh my gosh we’re going to die,” I thought. But the man starts giving Noeah some ludicrous advice about girls or something of that matter then asked for money – sure didn’t see that one coming. I found it awkward yet funny at the same time. The night moved on, and I’m positive my hair smelled like weed or cigarettes at that point. Waiting to cross an intersection, I hear loud thumps sprinting behind me, and for a second, I believed some man was about to kidnap me, but it was Scott and I just hugged him out of happiness. We run back to his car, and although they unfortunately got a ticket, him and his family saved us and let us crash in their hotel room. Sleeping at the edge of the bed, I was near to falling off but every time I turned whenever I lost circulation in an arm, I found Noeah awake and it seemed like he never slept, making me feel awful. I would’ve offered to trade spots with him, but in honesty, I felt like Scott would roll over in his sleep and throw an arm around me or of some sort, which was one of the last things I wanted. Throughout the night, alarms would go off and I would get up and shut them off. The day continued on, and Scott handed me a piece of gum, but Noeah took the wrapper and came back with it folded into a heart, and said “Happy Valentine’s Day.” I then realized he’s a bit cheesy, but that’s okay. We eat breakfast, call up Miguel and ask him to pick us up. After handling paperwork back at the police station, we go to Johnny Rockets because I’ve never been and head home. We grab Starbucks, and Miguel doesn’t leave until he finishes his coffee, and all I needed was to get home. We get back into the car, and Miguel mentions some insane idea about Carly possibly wanting him to kiss her, which I immediately threw my defenses up and told him that information would be incorrect. We get back on the road, Noeah and I accidentally fall asleep, and I wake up needing to use the restroom. Miguel swerved off to the next restroom stop, and he seemed a bit upset, which I didn’t understand until later. We finally get to my house, and Noeah comes in and talks to my mom. I already knew it wasn’t going to go very well because my mom is my mom. He leaves, and I later text him a little thank you, but I would’ve said more. I just didn’t want to seem crazy or overwhelming, but then he responds with a sweet message about what he intended to say my mom. He left me surprised, and almost restored my faith in the male race. I felt awful – still do, actually – at the fact that he was dragged into my mess. It seems like anyone and everyone who even speaks to me gets sucked into a hurricane of my world. But I hope he’s as forgiving as he seems to be. He’s definitely not like many guys I know, and this memory will definitely be one I’ll always remember

London, England

Arriving in London at 7am after an eleven hour flight left forty students and four adults beyond exhausted yet there’s a full day ahead of us.

After quickly changing at the airport into clothing much cleaner and comfortable, we go straight to London and pass an upside down purple cow on our way to lunch. Walking the streets of London, it doesn’t feel realistic even though we’re standing thirty feet away from the 300ft London Eye. Our lunch is first served with an appetizer, tomato and creamy mozzarella cheese with a brown sauce drizzled on the top. As nearly every student tried a bite, it didn’t appeal to any of us and I ended up spitting the cheese into a napkin – way to make first impressions.

However, the first-seemed peculiar main dish, salmon pasta, turns out to be delicious. With every obscure course we encountered, we slowly discovered what we did and didn’t like which allowed us to gradually expose ourselves to the new culture we need to adapt ourselves into for the next three weeks.

As the very few and quick two days tick on the Big Ben, we’re rushing around the capital cramming all that we can into our limited time. In lingering queues, we finally get to the end and board the London Eye, capturing the beauty of the entire city from the top, also crossing off number twelve on my bucket list: ride the London Eye. Taking a short boat ride along the river where the Coca-Cola masterpiece lays, the end of the stream leaves us off with the awe-struck, breath-taking Big Ben. I’m gazing at the astonishing clock, imagining Peter Pan flying above the clock and landing on the minute hand. It feels all too real.

I’m in line for the London Eye, about to board, and I’m looking around to the crowd of people gathered around street performers and others trying to get from one destination to another attempting to wind through the blockaded walls of other people. Their “heat wave” with 75 degrees humors my friends and I as we’re watching the locals in tank tops, shorts, and in line for ice cream attempting to “cool down.” To us, this is our winter.

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Handing the worker in front of the entrance my ticket, he checks my bag for guns because I, of course, would definitely want to murder all these lovely, hot British boys around me. My friend behind me gets her bag scanned as well; however, his detector begins to beep and claims he found something. He yells our for another worker, eager to take her in, and the other worker glares at my friend. My friend’s stunned, pale white, frightened, until the first worker laughs letting my friend know he was messing around. Offended, she responds, “I don’t understand jokes.” I, at least, thought it was hilarious. The British have a grand sense of humor.

We later visit the Tower of London and venture to its famous Royal Gems which was valued more than my life. It was fascinating seeing how valuable and treasured such material items can be just because of its antique characteristic and the fact that an important human has touched it.

The vast London Bridge also left me in awe as I rode a ferry directly underneath it and sat in a bus that crossed on the bridge as well. Wishing people were capable of walking the top of the bridge, I imagined myself standing at the ledge, half an inch away from falling, but feeling the rush of adrenaline as the cool breeze kiss my cheeks and hugs my waist. I wanted to feel free up there, viewing the city in a full 360. The world is beautiful.

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With an impacted schedule (which the British apparently pronounce “shh – eh – duale”) and being completely exhausted by traveling for an entire day, we did much more than our bodies can nearly handle. Walking the Tower of London, visiting Big Ben, riding the London Eye, attending a play, walking on Abbey Street, watching the change of guards, viewing Buckingham Palace from a distance since there were guards everywhere, and visiting nearly every major Harry Potter destination in London. I’m beyond exhausted, but within this trip, I have another sixteen days to go.

True North Strong and Free

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Traveling for 11 hours with layovers, flights, and driving, reaching to the edge of the country appears to be one of the ultimate “must do’s.”

Hopping off the bus, the misty air hangs onto my cheeks and clings onto my messy, slept-in hair. The salty smell brings me back to sunny California and its oceanic scenery yet the chill wind contrasts reminding me I’m on the complete opposite side of home. Looking out into the environment, the endless shades of green leaves me in awe.

I walk down the paved pathway, stone and smooth, leading me to the thick railing, elbow-high. The waters swim it’s way down from my left to the right, frantically swaying its way to its destination. Eager to collapse 167 feet down, it soars over the rocky cliff and plummets down leaving a rushing sound.

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Above the haste waters, what seems only a few yards away from me, holds a whole different country. The tall, distinct buildings creates a formation of perfection. Each edifice formed into its own unique structure, emphasizing on the concept of an entirely new world that potentially can be so different from mine.

I see a different country across from me, and I want to be able to step foot on their vibrant green grass and tell myself I’ve escaped and I start over. Until my family tells me to stand in front of the view and smile for a photo, my fantasy vanishes.

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We take a cruise ride at the bottom of the falls, getting soaked by the divulging splashes. As the boat steers, we’re growing closer and closer to the breathtaking waterfall. Trying to capture a photo, my phone gets covered in water within seconds, and the pure whiteness of the view shines brighter than the sun.

On our way back, as the mist starts to slow, I check the GPS on my phone, and the blue dot illuminates illustrating that we were on the border, technically being in two places at once.

Bucket list #8: “Be in two places at once” checked off.

Time’s Ticking. Where Does it Go?

23 December 2014. This photo was taken.

160 days in-between 23 December 2014 and 1 June 2015.

Looking for a photo of my math notes through my camera roll, I start scrolling up towards past pictures. Then I continue scrolling and continue scrolling until I’m tapping on each photo reminiscing in the times I laughed so hard I almost started crying. I remember the moments I ran around with no cares in the world, feeling like the patriots did on 4 July 1776. I stare at my phone, gazing at the image that flashbacks to the times I stood, stared at this group of teenagers, and asked, “When the hell did I get so lucky?”

I’ve been irrationally irritated by them, but after talking to one of the friends who mean the world to me no matter how much of an ass he is, he made me see that it’s okay. And that’s all I’ve been asking for in the last couple months – for someone to simply tell me it’s okay.

After staring at the hundreds of pictures with the group, I begin to miss what it was before. The endless pizza we ate at night that we struggled to get because we’re poor, the reckless games of hide and seek, and the Jesus talks that weren’t forced or scheduled. I don’t know what happened.

Tick tock. Tick tock.

Most don’t understand the analogy within Peter Pan between the ticking crocodile and why exactly he keeps trying to eat Captain Hook. The story goes, Peter Pan and Captain Hook were in a fight, and Peter cut off Hook’s left hand and the crocodile eats it. After the crocodile had a sample of Hook’s hand, the crocodile wanted more and now continues to try to eat all of Hook. However, before eating the hand, the crocodile accidentally swallowed a clock. Where’s the analogy? Between Hook and the clock. The clock is ticking away, passing by after every second and ticks ticks ticks. Time is eating Hook away and is slowly killing him.

160 days. Doesn’t sound much, but the adventures and downhills within even 30 days seems to appall me. Like Hook, it’s eating at us.

I look back and reminisce the approximate 13,824,000 seconds.

Of course there are days where life seems to feel like the crocodile is right at the soles of our feet, but there are also the most unfathomable days that seems like time doesn’t exist and the only thing important is the fact that we’re breathing and having the greatest times of our lives.

But what’s the significance?

More important than what we may think. Sure we have 213 more days, but what happened to the last 152 we just experienced? They’re just memories and footprints we left in the sand. The seconds ticking, the minutes passing by, the hours that we wish would end sooner. It all goes somewhere. Every second marks a footprint on the eager sand awaiting for our momentous step. Depending on the imprint, it’ll either wash away by the rambunctious sea or remain cemented within the fragile grains. This breakable world expects our powerful influence to be embedded, absorbing all the effort we’re living for. Time’s ticking. We’re leaving a legacy.