To Oakland, from Houston, by way of New York

Thank God I found the good in goodbye

Beyoncé

I grew up in Houston. Kinda. Well, Cypress, Texas, a suburb about 30 minutes outside of Houston. I say Houston because people don’t know about the tiny unincorporated suburb of Cypress, its crowning jewel a three-way tie between its high school football teams, the gummy bear slush at Sonic, and the 24-hour Walmart.

I also grew up in New York. Kinda. Those memories are foggier, further away. But, still, I grew up there. My family is there and it still feels like home there. It was quite different than growing up in “Houston,” but those two very different locations meld together to create a childhood that was uniquely mine.

most of the memories involve at least 7 other family members crowded in somebody’s kitchen

I’ve lived in a lot of different places, places that are very different from each other in culture, food, people, and pretty much every way you can think of. It’s interesting to travel the country and learn new cultural norms, new quirks that make a city. I live in Oakland now, and it’s not too unlike other places I’ve lived before. Only now, I’m on my own. I have a job that pays me enough to live here, save for very specific planning and budgeting. I have an entire first floor of a house to myself. I have a kitchen, a living room, a bathroom, a bedroom, and THREE closets. It’s practically a mansion up in here. I’ve never had it like this before.

i mean, just look at that couch! a backyard!? is this a castle or something???

I mean, it’s not like I have it like that. I am doing well for myself. At 26, in the Bay Area, on my salary, I am squarely middle class. I have a savings account. I even have a special savings account specifically to buy Beyoncé floor seat tickets, because I stay ready. I can pay my bills. I’m in debt like the rest of us.

But there is something about where I’m at right now that makes me feel good. It makes me feel ok.

I’m constantly stressed about work. I suffer from a near comical amount of imposter syndrome. I hit ignore hella quick when I see unknown numbers from San Jose (shout out to my debt collector, Patty Lopez, who leaves the same voicemail each time. Also, I say “hella” now.).

i’ve been paying this bill for 2 years now and am barely halfway through

But I also drive with my windows down and I sing at the top of my lungs and I feel free. I threw a BBQ in my backyard a few weeks ago and it was honestly one of the most fun things I’ve ever done because I got to celebrate and honor my friends. I know I’m doing good work, even when it feels like it takes a million years, even when I don’t finish on time, even when I forget and feel foolish that I have to be reminded.

Oakland, you’ve been kind to me so far. I’m doing good here. I’m taking my meds and I’m going to therapy (kinda) and I’m going to the gym (kinda). I’m taking care of myself (…kinda). I’m taking care of my friends. I am someone people can go to for advice, who can be a hype man, a shoulder to cry on, a constant.

I like that about myself. I’m proud that I’ve grown into the kind of person who can be a lot of different things for the people I care about the most. It makes me feel like this has all been worth it.

pictured: me using my own failures to cheer up a friend

All jokes aside, I feel good about being here, even when I sometimes feel like I need to escape. The things in my life and the places I’ve lived have led to this moment and assisted this transition to me more fully forming into an adult human being. I feel safe here, and I feel like I can grow here.

I’m not always happy, but I’m happy to be here.

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