“Love taught me.” from “The Boss” by Diana Ross
I have decided I am going to love the world again. I will give my energy and attention to every other person alive around me. I will smile and speak kindly. I will give of myself freely and fearlessly. I will expect nothing in return but the gift of loving. In loving the world, I will be loving myself more than I ever have.
On Thursday the 26th, I made my way across the Bay to the City. I got off one train station beyond the 38 Muni stop, Civic Center, so I decided an uphill walk in the gray fog would be good for me. Clad in my youth-large Cal hoodie, my oldest pair of jeans(now held up by a belt because I am six pounds lighter than I was last month), and my relatively new self-designed Chuck Taylors(kid size 3, blue and gold for football season, very comfy), I know I looked like one of my students. I trudged up Van Ness past luxury car dealerships and chain coffee shops, iPod playing, towards the Chinese consulate. I would be joining a San Francisco contingent of national protests against China’s ties with Sudan.
At first, there were four of us: Marvin*, an older gentleman in blue Save Darfur cap and assorted dark green Save Darfur gear; Claude, a friendly African man, and Bobby, a khaki-clad, babyfaced Asian guy. We were joined by Dara, a schoolteacher in dark green Save Darfur shirt and matching bracelets. Within minutes, we were joined by twenty others and quickly distributed posters and leaflets. We stood at the four corners of the Laguna/Geary intersection. NBC 11, KCBS radio station, and two local Asisan media outlets interviewed Claude and Bobby and filmed our silent protest. At last count, there were 32 of us and we had received 6 honks from passerby. The protest ended with a short address by Claude and the crowd for YouTube. We gathered at the locked door of the consulate to chant: Please China, bring the Olympic dream to Darfur. We applauded before dispersing but not before Dara and I exchanged information with plans to organize more events.
I headed downhill to Civic Center. I decided to lunch at Gyro King, a hole in the wall Mediterranean restaurant that makes up for its shabby decor with good prices and delicious food. The youthful exec type on the stool next to me buried his face in his hands. I watched as he pulled out the latest Harry Potter. In a move that is unlike me, I struck up a conversation with him about the book. On the way out, I wished him happy reading. He responded by wishing me a good day.
A few doors down, a homeless woman offered me a Street Sheet. She was tall, willowy, attractive, despite her ragged clothes. She asked, “Are you from South America? Peru?” I smiled as I replied that I was and we struck up a conversation. She told me about missing Trinidad and how her legal status had made it difficult for her to survive. She said she knew I was Peruvian from my features. After several minutes, I bought the paper and continued downhill.
On the way into the train station, I had to move aside for a troop of daycamp children. The homeless sitting at my feet said they were on a school trip. I crouched down beside her and she started to tell me about her broken relationship and the dog she missed. We talked for a while and shook hands, wishing one another luck.
There are many who say to love is difficult. It is second nature to me. It is a blessing.