The countdown is on! In 36 days, I will be boarding a plane to Los Angeles, then Panama City, then finally to Quito. In three days, I move out of Berkeley back to my parent’s house for a brief interlude and a whirlwind of family time, shopping, observing ESL classes, and catching up with as many friends as possible before my departure. Summer has truly flown by. If there’s one thing I learned over the past few months, it’s that life is strange and beautiful and so unpredictable. When I starting thinking about my last summer in Berkeley, I began calling it the “golden summer” in my head. This had a couple meanings. First, and most obviously, we are the Golden Bears at Cal. That school pride still runs strong in me and probably will do so forever. Second, reflection on the fact that this was my last summer in Berkeley for the foreseeable future–though I plan to return to the East Bay to make it my permanent home at some point, who knows when that might become reality–made me think of the poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” and the ephemerality of this moment in my life. For those of you unfamiliar with said poem, here it is:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Now, the poem might have a bit of a melancholic undertone, but to me it also feels hopeful. It reminds me that all things in life have a time and a place, and that nothing does last forever–be it positive or negative. We must cherish each moment and era in our lives for what they are, appreciate it with as much intensity as we can, and move along when the time comes. My “golden summer” is wrapping up as I prepare to leave my beloved Berkeley, and I’m undeniably a bit sad about this chapter of my life coming to a close.
Despite the slight sadness about the end of the summer, I am more and more feeling the excitement about my new adventure building and taking the place of the sadness. Part of that comes from the fact that I truly feel that I’ve lived as intentionally as possible this summer, spending nearly every evening with friends/doing a fun activity, even when it took away my valued personal down time. I’ve gone hiking with my dad in Yosemite. I’ve watched countless movies with Tarika while drinking maybe a bit too much Carlo Rossi sangria. I’ve attended and been the Maid of Honor at my sister’s wedding, and left that weekend feeling so full of love and joy I thought I might burst. I’ve spent a weekend with my best friend from childhood, discovering the cliffs of Half Moon Bay and the Berkeley kite festival all the while having meaningful conversations about our past and the trajectory of our lives in the coming years. I’ve checked off most of my summer bucket list–I’ve gone to Corona Heights and Dolores Parks, I’ve been clubbing in the city, I visited Indian Rock and marveled at the breath-taking Bay views, I’ve gone surfing with my cousin, I’ve sampled many new restaurants, I’ve been to a live poetry slam night, I’ve gotten on top of not only one but two roof tops, and more. I’ve gone to four consecutive Taco Tuesdays at Cafe D and enjoyed the evenings drinking Blue Moon and eating chicken tacos with my closest friends. I’ve reconnected with people I didn’t think I’d stay friends with and I’ve made some new friends too. I’ve even learned a couple new songs on the guitar and managed to read a couple books. There’s not much more I could have packed in!
And so, as I prepare to move on Sunday, I know I will leave Berkeley with more joy than sadness, more appreciation for the beauty that was this golden summer than regret that it has ended. I am looking forward to the changes coming my way with eagerness and anticipation, ready to take on the challenges involved with picking up and moving to a different continent. I’m excited to start learning how to teach English to students and discover if teaching is the career path for me. I’m ready to take my learning outside of the Berkeley lecture halls and libraries. I’m ready to fall in love with a new city and check out its nooks and crannies, discovering as much beauty as I can along the way. I’m excited for the new friendships and communities I will make with Ecuadorians and fellow WorldTeach volunteers. More than anything, I’m excited to grow and learn more about myself along the way.
The world is a strange, beautiful, and mysterious place. Let’s go explore it, shall we?