Yes, 2016 was an absolute dumpster fire. No, it’s not just because a bunch of celebrities died. It’s because of all the violence- in terrorist attacks, in wars, in protests. It was because of the mess of an election and the divide that became shockingly apparent to those of us that live in little blue bubbles. (That’s me. I totally live in a blue bubble.)
We are still going to have to deal with all of those things in 2017- they won’t magically disappear just because we all shout “Happy New Year,” kiss someone, and sip some champagne. However, the New Year can be a good opportunity for a psychological and emotional reset. We feel like we have a chance to start again, and we have intentions to be better.
2016: it’s time to say goodbye. These are my favorite memories that you gave me.
I am extremely lucky in that I live in one of the most beautiful places in the United States: the San Francisco Bay Area. Mini adventures that I had on days out in the bay area have been some of the highlights of my year.
There was the day where I found the Full/Fuller House locations- this was such a lovely day. It was a warm early spring, sunny day and I parked in Golden Gate Park, walked through Haight Ashbury, up the panhandle, to Alamo Square, to the Full House House, and then to Japan Town for some bubble tea. That is A LOT of walking, but it was one of those accidentally perfect days where everything happened at just the right pace. I saw my first honey bear, I listened to Lindsey Stirling’s Only Pirate at the Party, and I arrived back in Golden Gate Park with achy feet just before sunset.
I gobbled up the beauty of Clarion Alley (and was terrified that a guy trying to sell me a giant joint was actually trying to stab me, because he was walking behind me at a very awkward angle).
I played in a science museum after it was closed with a bestie.
After a mad dash to arrive just before the free entrance cut off time, I showed Ashley the Japanese Tea Gardens. I was a frantic mess because we left too late and hit traffic and it was an absolute miracle that we arrived at the entrance gate just before 10 AM. The guy was just walking up to the booth to start charging people and he waved us through as we were running up. On top of that- Ashley liked the Japanese Tea Gardens. This dude is hard to impress, so that was a lovely surprise. This is also the day I made my first video.
We took our friend Jack to see the sea otters and jelly fish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
We had a bonfire on Muir Beach for my bestie’s birthday.
Europe in the Summer
Wales made it to the Semi-Finals in the European Cup. The amount I care about sportsball of any kind: 0%. The amount I care about Wales: all the %. It was so exciting to see my family so excited. Wales hasn’t been to the European Cup since my father in law was 2, so this was a VERY big deal throughout the country. Not only did they make it, but they went all the way through to the semi-finals- much further than expected! So. Exciting.
I went on a group tour to London, Amsterdam and The Hague. I do not use this phrase lightly when I say it was “a trip of a lifetime.” I’m still having a hard time properly documenting the magic of it, but here are a few highlights:
I got to explore Brick Lane in London.
I rode an overnight ferry from England to Amsterdam and hardly slept a wink. The ferry was super comfortable- it was just way too exciting.
I went to Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam. The part that sticks with me the most was a video room at the end where various artists and politicians spoke about Anne Frank. John Green read a piece from The Fault in our Stars where Hazel muses on the fact that Anne Frank has an entire museum to herself, and others are simply a name on a paper- forgotten. He was writing about the very thing I was thinking, and I as I listened to his thoughtful eloquence, I felt grateful to have him as one of the great “thinkers” of our time.
I got into an elevator with Ndaba Mandela- Nelson Mandela’s grandson. I totally kept my cool while trying to silently signal to my mom “that is him!”
I saw Ndaba Mandela, Arun Ghandi, Sheryl Wu Dunn, and Nicholas Kristof speak about human rights.
The Pacific Northwest in the Summer
I spent a week in Bend, Oregon with some of my favorite people. I had a deep talk over a cup of coffee in the backyard of the best coffee shop in the world: The Looney Bean. That conversation turned a casual friend into a real one. I got a warning instead of a parking ticket that I deserved, and then we totally didn’t get lost when we tried to drive home without directions.
I drank Fresh Squeezed at The Deshutes Brewery and played the “If you could travel anywhere in time and space…” game with my friends. I floated down the new “rapids” in the river. We stood on the bridge over the Deschutes at sunset, watched otters play, and gave them voices and personalities. We lay on my favorite blue blanket in the shade of Juniper trees and read books. At night, I went to bed and gleefully streamed episodes of Stranger Things until 2 or 3 AM.
On our last full day in Bend, we went rock climbing at Smith Rock. We stopped and got kombucha and iced coffee on the way simply because I asked to. I loved watching my friends climb and I loved making videos for them.
An annual trip to Bend turned into an extended, spontaneous road trip through the Pacific Northwest. Ashley and I already had plans to checkout Portland, and we did. We loved parking in the Pearl District for $5, seeing Neil Gaiman’s signature on a wall in Powell’s Books, and eating $3 pizza across the street. We loved how cheap Portland was compared to San Francisco, but our particular experience of Portland didn’t charm us the way we thought it would. I don’t think we did it right, and I want to go back with a local to show us how fun Portland it can be.
Portland didn’t work out, so we decided to head up to Seattle and stay in my dad’s house (he was out road trippin’). We drove into a golden sunset falling behind the black silhouette of the city, and I was enchanted once again by my birthplace. We spent a week holed up together during the only hot week Seattle experienced all year.
I took him to Capitol Hill and the Canterbury- the bar that my parents worked in and lived above. We attempted to walk through the Arboretum and re-enact Say Anything, but it was too hot and we were lazy. Seriously, I even lay down on a park bench for a little while. We took a day trip to Roslyn and re-enacted scenes from Northern Exposure. Other than that, we ate pizza in the backyard and went on walks around the neighborhood after dark, talking about exciting plans. We rounded a corner and saw an older man sitting on folding chair in his driveway. He had an unexpectedly perfect view of the city skyline, the sun was setting, and it was probably much cooler outside than inside his house. I thought he was doing life just right.
I decided movie making was my new favorite hobby and started my youtube channel.
A Day of Magic Coincidence
There was one day where all three of these things happened:
- I ran into George Lucas in a Starbucks. I smiled at him but I didn’t say hi because he looked a little nervous.
- I saw the end of a Rainbow.
- I found a TARDIS in someone’s yard.
I swam under a waterfall, walked on blue cobblestones, hiked in the rain forest, saw a 300 year old Banyan tree, and discovered that I actually like humidity. I now spend all my time telling everyone I know who has even the slightest plans of travelling at all at some point in the near future that they should go to Puerto Rico. In other words, you too can expect some Puerto Rico posts soon.
So, that is all 2016! Thank you for all the travels and fond memories with friends. Now, let’s shout “Happy New Year,” kiss someone special, sip some champagne and reset for the new year.