I brew a coffee.
I make an egg and grits.
I call the woman I love(d) to tell her happy birthday.
she does not answer.
I do not expect her to.
I take out the trash.
I lay down but do not sleep.
I get up.
I wash dishes.
I read the news.
I drink water.
I consider smoking weed.
I meditate, instead.
I write, instead.
I drink more water, instead.
I leave The Bay in less than a week.
The transition, to say the least, has been bittersweet. I am a veteran at three years old. I have learned more and grown more here than I ever imagined possible. This town is heavy, in a way that’s difficult to notice after living with the weight for so long. I am grateful for the people who have allowed me into their lives, seen me at my grittiest, and let my pain rub up against theirs for a short time.
I went home to Houston in April after what I’ve dubbed “a minor mental meltdown,” a combination of a lot of life factors–a breakup, a mild traumatic brain injury, leaving a job that I loved so much I nearly let it kill me–colliding all at once. Oakland is not a forgiving place. And yet I have felt held by this town in a way that is significant for how little extraneous energy people have for luxuries like gentleness and kindness. These are comforts that I have learned to accept for the gifts they are, rather than to expect of the surviving.
I love Oakland. I will miss Oakland.
Oakland has taught me to recognize my triggers and sit with how I feel, even when how I feel makes me uncomfortable. Oakland has taught me that to live hard means to hurt hard. Oakland has taught me that people I love will disappoint me and that to accept them means loving them anyway. Oakland has taught me what I cannot accept.
Oakland has also taught me to let go. Letting go is not a skill inherent to me, and practicing it has been painful. I had my last session with my therapist this week, a woman who has navigated me through self-doubt, self-loathing, and every self-ish thing in between. One of the first things she told me that stuck, which is ironic as I reflect on endings, is that it’s okay and necessary, even, to let things go.
I am letting go of Oakland and the pain I felt while living here, the struggles I hurdled, and the pieces of myself that don’t fit anymore. I am mourning, but I am also freer than I have felt in a long time. I am grateful for everything Oakland has taught me. I carry the lessons with me as I continue my journey.
Thank you, Oakland, for everything.