It's only been a day, but I already feel welcome here. It's been quite a trip. Between not sleeping before the trip, sleeping on the plane for four hours, and then doing an entire evening of hanging out and walking around Little Saigon, it's been great. The hostel we're at is located in the middle of Little Saigon. This trip has been so odd. Alyssa and I had a short conversation about how jarring it was to be in a place where homeless people are so visible. That's definitely something that we don't see often in Minneapolis. While walking around, we saw a homeless man just sleeping on his bed in the middle of the sidewalk. But also, on the flip side, there is absolutely gorgeous art in this city. We walked past a man that created "Smile Zones" because he believes that when people smile, everything becomes more beautiful. Later, we learned that he is a cancer survivor and has been trying to create more "Smile Zones". It's been so good to see art in the city and the impact it has, and seeing the line of poverty and gentrification is really eye-opening because San Francisco is such a touristy place but many people don't see it all.
This morning was pretty nice. The entire room woke up to the sound of a drag show, music, and loud cheering as the Rock and Roll Marathon kicked off just down the street. Even though we were a bit cranky, there's nothing quite like waking up to a rave in your backyard. After meeting and making adorable cards for the people we'll be making meals for in the lobby, we headed out to the park for some ice breakers.
While on the way there, we walked along the marathon, and I caught the tail end of the song "Home" by American Authors. It's funny, but that song made me feel like I was doing the right thing by going on this trip. It's been such a culture shock. When we made it to the park, we all went around and talked about a show-and-tell item that we brought. I brought my journal, and talked about it. It was really impactful and important to see what we brought and how these things grounded us all because this trip has been education. We'll be learning and helping other people out, but we're also learning about ourselves and each other while in this city where people are unapologetic about themselves.
I'm extremely excited for this all. I'm looking forward for what this city has to offer, and when I come back home, I'll learn how to be unapologetic about my self, my feelings, and how I can exist. I feel at home here. Between the hustle and bustle, the car horns, the dog parks with tiny puppies, the garden, the art-laden streets, the smells of Vietnamese food, and the sound of people just existing, I know that I'll come back.
That was written on the first day. I was supposed to post to the blog, but it just never happened.
Today we went out in the morning to Grace Memorial Church to walk in the labyrinth. It was relaxing and really thought-provoking because it forced us all to slow down.
After that, we went back to the hostel for lunch, and then went to volunteer with Project Open Hand.
Once there, we were all excited, but I wasn't feeling well so I opted to go back to the hostel to partake in some self-care.
During this time, I realized that it is officially National Poetry Writing Month.
In honor of that, have a poem.
become shelter to
hands and palms
stretching upwards towards
the unbridled sun, a question,
a bastion of hope laid beneath sunsets and
open skies, do you
ever wonder what it means to be shelter
to cling to a home
you no longer can call one
these streets are colder than
they were before,
the memory is now just fading
I used to think that it was beautiful
to be free,
but I know that home is no longer just a feeling
these streets are shelter,
but only those
who can walk it are free