Friday, February 24, 2017

On staying

I've decided to stay in the Bay Area after I graduate. I mean, technically, this is old news. I decided about two months ago. But it still feels like a big deal to me. Especially in the environmental field, there is such a push for people to travel widely, to do internships far from home, to take jobs in new states, to experience the world where they've never been before. I think there is absolutely a use to traveling and experiencing new places. I encourage all of my friends to follow their wayfaring hearts wherever they feel the call, and to make the entire globe their home. However, for myself, it doesn't feel like the right time to do so. Maybe in 5 years, or 10 years, or 20 years. I still have decades ahead of me to move to Malaysia, or England, or take a new seasonal job every... season, for lack of a better word. Right now, my biggest desire is to fall even more in love with the Bay Area than I already am.

At Asilomar Beach last March, photo by Alex Wu. 

Of course, it helps that my family and my partner are here. It would tear me up to leave so many of my loved ones behind. But that isn't the only reason. I think there is something to be said for living in the same place for years and years. I want to delve deeply into all of this region's nooks and crannies. I want to get to know all of its secrets. I want to form a truly intimate connection to this place, which, let's be honest, is the location that people in France and New York come to when they want that rush of newness and excitement. I think that after 4 years of walking the streets of Berkeley with a backpack on my back and a to-do list in my head, I've become immune to the fact that the Bay Area is one of the most famous places on Earth. I don't want to take it for granted anymore.

For example, I already love this Bay deeply. But every time I talk to someone new or take a new route home, I realize that I know only the slightest fraction of things there are to know about this little corner of the Earth. I barely know what birds there are here, and a few mushrooms, and a couple of mammals and herps. There is so much to learn about the art, and music, and history, and food, and plants, and trails, and architecture, and fish, and even the birds and mushrooms and mammals and herps of the Bay. I want to know... maybe not all of it, because I don't think I could ever learn everything there is to know. I just want to know more. I want to be astounded by my home every single day.

Like last year, when I learned there are Buffalo in Golden Gate State Park. Apparently I'm one of the last people on Earth to learn about the Buffalo, but it's not MY fault no one told me.

For me, it comes down to this: one way to challenge myself would be to leave, and go somewhere new, and be completely out of my depth, and make that new place my home. Another way to challenge myself would be to stay here, in this place that I think I know, and to realize that even here, I am still out of my depth. I want to knock myself down a few pegs and look at the Bay Area with new eyes. And that, I am sure, will take more than just 4 years of undergrad.

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