Today, July 4, 2017, marks one year since I arrived in this strange world of California. It has been a year truly unlike any I’ve ever experienced in my near quarter-of-a-century life.
What a roller coaster. I spent a month in Palo Alto working every job that I could find. I moved myself across the Bay to Oakland. I got a job with Blue Bottle. Started working in San Francisco. Met my Ferry Building family. Celebrated Christmas with my sister. Jumped in the ocean. Ate a doughnut. Visited Portland. Got mugged. Joined my first ever real-world writing class. Gave my first ever reading. Adopted a kitten. Moved jobs. And, as of yesterday, moved houses once more.
Note to self: I know you think you can do anything, and you can, but next time don’t move all your stuff and then work a seven hour shift. That’s a recipe for a zombie-Laura.
I’ve been thinking about the United States a lot, you know, and the Bay Area in particular. And recently I saw a sign that says “America was Never great.” Which is both true and also not true.
The state of the United States is one founded on the removal of Native people, the enslavement of Africans, and the general principle that anything is okay if you have enough money to justify it. So, yes, the state of the United States has never been great.
However, when it comes to the people who happen to be living here, then it becomes more complicated. At least for me.
Because the people of the United States have done some pretty cool things. Like fighting for black liberation, women’s liberation, gay rights, trans rights, prisoner equality, and generally human rights across the board.
If the United States is anything, it’s the constant struggle of its people against the state.
This has come into the light upon my arrival in Oakland. I wrote about this before, but I’ve never felt more strongly the feeling and embodiment of community. This is a place where people are living out their beliefs.
Is there rampant gentrification, horrible landlords, a brutal police force and insidious racism? You better believe it. But I also firmly believe that the community is more powerful.
So this July 4, I am celebrating my arrival into this joyous community. I am celebrating the power of people everywhere to struggle against the oppressive forces that seek to destroy them. I celebrate the Native people who have endured, survived and thrived into the present. I celebrate black freedom and black community. I celebrate the Asian immigrants who built and are building the country. I celebrate women, cis and trans, strong enough to keep fighting. I celebrate all people working towards universal equality.
And that’s a lot worth celebrating.