My Dear Friend,
Hello. This will probably be the last letter I write to you. It’s been a hell of a couple years, hasn’t it? Who knew two years ago we’d be where we are today.
I’m not really sure what to say. I feel…at peace. I feel… closure. I feel… content and ready for that next step. Which as you know, is much different than how I was feeling a couple months ago. From April until early August, I was having the hardest time. The transition home was really rough. I think it was a number of things, for example, having to come home abruptly and early. The other piece was living a complete solo life of freedom to coming back to a small apartment with someone else and not being able to leave the home for the first two months. It was just rough. And then I got a job and also wasn’t mentally ready to transition back into work mode. It was like my body was here doing all the things it was supposed to be doing but it was unfocused. My mind was still somewhere else. And I know why. It’s because when I decided to come home, I had this little ounce of hope that covid would be over in a few months and I’d be able to go back out for another month or so. And so, I had to address all this mentally. I had to tell myself, it was over. And I needed to readjust my brain. That’s why I left for Alaska. It was a last minute gut decision, but I’m really happy that I went. Alaska was a really important part of the closure process for me. It allowed me the space to have one last trip for myself, to wind down, to mentally reshift. Not to mention just spending time in such a beautiful place. Seriously, everywhere you turn is pure natural beauty there.
It’s true, when I came home I felt different. My mind felt more clear. I knew what I needed to do next. I had a plan for my next few months. I felt energized to wake up in the morning. I knew what I was building towards. I felt ready again, to take on the world. In a way, this final letter feels like the closing of another chapter in my life and the beginning of the next. I’m writing this as I pack my things and move back into my condo next week in Minneapolis and as I begin stepping into my next endeavor of running for office. What lies before me? What does the next level of my leadership journey look like? Am I excited? Hell yes! Am I scared? AF! We’ll make it a fun ride though, that’s for sure.
It’s been a journey of a lifetime. It really has. I feel like there’s still so much that I haven’t been able to share so I’m gonna fill the rest of this with “best of” lists, stories, pictures, and random thoughts that I’ve gleaned throughout these past two years. Hope you enjoy, it’ll be a long one :))
I’m most proud of –
- Finishing and being alive – yes I am proud that I made it through alive and healthy without any major accidents or hiccups. Survival is always number one!!
- Blog – My blog! I’m REALLY proud of being able to keep it up. I remember talking to you at the beginning of this trying to figure out how best I would share my journey. I was nervous I wouldn’t keep it up because that’s what I always did with my past blogs. Yes, I’ve had many past blogs – 4 to be exact lol! One in high school which I was pretty good at posting in until I graduated, one my freshman year of college which I maybe posted in twice, one my sophomore year of college which I posted in once, and one after college where I drafted my first post but never actually posted lol! But yes! Sharing my sometimes unformulated thoughts to the world was nerve wracking but I’m glad that I did because it since been much easier.
- Therapist – Idk if I told you this, but I began seeing a therapist a few months ago and am extremely happy and proud of making that decision. I’m proud of learning more about what I need to take care of myself. This was one of those things. I’ve had a few breakout sessions already where I’m like, “oh wow, so this is what healing feels like.”
- Committing to run – Committing to run was really hard for me. There was just a lot of baggage that came with it. Overcoming it was like overcoming a lot of my own internal demons – like feeling like I’m not good enough, that I’m not smart enough, wanting to be liked, and so much more. It took a lot, but that first step of committing to myself and other peers around me that I’m going to run for office was a big step forward. And now that journey continues..
- Putting myself out there meeting all the new people – I’ve met so many people these past two years and I’m proud of being able to put myself out there to meet new people, sometimes having to overcome some major anxiety in doing so. For example, even just going to the bar by myself and meeting people there took a lot out of me.
- The relentless hustle – yes there was so major hustling going on. I had a whole list of people I wanted to meet and experiences I wanted to participate in. People not responding to me or things not going to plan were very much a part of the process, and that was really difficult for me for a good chunk of my fellowship as I’m sure you remember. But the relentless reaching out or finding people in some way was what it took. I remember I reached out to the ED of an org. She didn’t respond to me, so I somehow found out that she was speaking at an event and I went over that event to talk to her there. It was a great move, because after that I spent the rest of my time with that org!
- Growth – There’s been so much growth. Idk where to start. I’m sure you can see it too. Like I wrote before, I guess I just feel wiser, like I know myself better, and see the world in a different light?
- My Chinese – I’m really proud of how much my Chinese improved in the three months I was in mainland China (plus one more month in HK). I remember my first night in Beijing and being SO scared of talking to anyone. Or trying to get my SIM card. Or trying to order food. It was a struggle! But slowly, it got better. I actually think the Chinese gay apps were really helpful in improving my Chinese (especially reading), and also learning more slang and just how people talk (as opposed to what I learned in school).
When I felt most alive – what does it even mean to feel “alive”? I guess part of it for me, is just really being in the moment and in my feels. It is about a heightened awareness of my emotions, feelings, and senses at a specific moment. I feel most alive when I am experiencing something that makes me more attuned to these senses. Each of these experiences I listed made me deep in my feels in some sort of way. (PG version :P)
- Deer Park near the end – Near the end of my week at Deer Park Monastery, I definitely felt different. More at peace. I felt much more centered in my mind and body. I had never felt this way ever before in my life. I wrote about it in my first letter to you.
- First night in Vitoria, Brasil, walking along the beach – I remember walking outside in the evening, taking a deep breath in, the smell of a brand new place. People out exercising, jogging, playing volleyball on the beach. It was so lively. And I felt so alive! So many attractive men too! It was the start of a new journey.
- NYE LA – Spending NYE with the MN boys and going out with them.
- Tijuana, being near border, seeing first hand – Being at the border was a surreal experience. I feel like you hear everything that is completely sensationalized by the news and then there’s what’s actually happening. The connections I made with so many people, the community that we helped create in our space. I wrote about it here.
- NYC World Pride Parade – Participating in the Pride March for the 50th anniversary at World Pride in NYC was a powerful experience. I wrote about it here.
- Night out alone in Seoul – I went out alone one night in Seoul. I still get anxiety going out by myself. But I did it anyway. I really wanted to see what the gay club culture was like in Seoul. And wow was I glad I went. Watching those Korean gays getting on stage and just dancing to every kpop song was so fun. And I was there all by myself! I wrote about it here.
- Sitting in Hiroshima Park – I sat alone in Hiroshima park, just contemplating the place I was in, the amount of destruction that surrounded me less than one century ago. It was so peaceful. I also wrote about it here.
- Beijing gay bar – I was hanging out with a friend and his friends. We were drinking, playing a new dice game that I learned. There was something really fun about it, like being able to learn a new game, hang out, speak Chinese. It felt like a night out with local gay friends. I felt like I was just constantly mentally stimulated and learning new things.
- Riding motorbike through Zhongyuan farm in China and picking pomegranate – There’s something about riding a motorbike and having the wind blow in your face in a new place. It’s so refreshing to smell the air. And walking around picking fruit at night with a new friend. Cultural exchange. I wrote about it here.
- Picking snails on farm outside Guangdong, China – We went out to pick snails at the river in the evening to cook the next day. It was pretty much in the jungle, pitch black outside and I was ngl, kinda scared 😂, but it was also exhilarating. My feet got completely soaked, but that was okay.
- Entire time with Harry – Harry was my number 1 crush during this fellowship. I met him in Xiamen, China. Just the kindest, sweetest, and cutest boy. Being with him made me feel cared for again. Helped me figure out what kind of guy I want to be with.
- Hong Kong protest – definitely felt some really heightened senses at this protest. It was different from what I was used to at home. It was scary, but I was also really curious about everything that was going on. I wrote about it in my HK letter to you.
- Motorbiking around Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with a new friend, with the wind blowing in my face, listening to Jai Wolf and other music and eating a cricket. Just a fun night overall.
- Friends – Seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I’m so happy that I was able to reconnect with so many folks across the world while at the same time meet so many new people. At the end of the day, it’s the relationships that really make or break my experiences in each city.
Moments of Struggle – moments of struggle also make me feel very much alive, but these were some of the rough points. Luckily not very many.
- Robbed in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil – You know this already. This was maybe the time I felt most unsafe. I got my necklace snatched off my neck in broad daylight on the beach. After this happened I was pretty much scared to go anywhere. I kept my guard up and didn’t really explore much anymore. I wrote about in my letter about Brasil.
- Tijuana alone in office – I remember being really nervous being left alone on my 4th(?) day at the office in TJ. I didn’t even know what I was doing but there was no one else to do it so I had to step up. TJ itself was a struggle just seeing the daily hardships people were going through. I wrote about it here.
- Arriving in Beijing – My first night in Beijing was a struggle. I think there was some culture shock and not being able to even get by without English. Unlike everywhere else I went, China is not a super English friendly place (or maybe I made that assumption and didn’t try to use English). Anyway, I definitely had a “wtf am I doing here” moment my first night.
- Siem Reap, Cambodia, bike ride – I went on a 50+KM bike ride in the blistering 90 degree and sunny weather. It was hell! Lol! I could feel my body giving up near the end. Then later in the evening I started getting chills, fever, and a stomach ache and I was like oh fuck cuz this was at the start of covid AND the next day I was supposed to fly to Thailand. Hot mess. Thankfully my fever and chills went away the next morning. I think I just had food poisoning but it was still really scary!
- Trying to figure out next steps/come home – This was difficult because I didn’t want to come home really. And I just kept going in circles on where I should go. I ended up buying a plane ticket to China to stay with Harry and then the next day China banned all visitors. -_- And that’s when I realized, it was time.
- Falling off motorbike in Chiang Mai – I rented a motorbike in Chiang Mai, Thailand and fell off making too narrow of a turn. My arm, hand, and knees were all bleeding everywhere. At first I didn’t even realize it. But then, as I got home and started trying to patch myself up it like REALLY hurt… Like everything hurt lol :(( I’m lucky I didn’t break anything though.
- Toronto – There was a few days when I was in Toronto where I was really struggling, like was lonely and didn’t know what I was doing nor what to do with myself.
- Being home – being home was a struggle. I just talked about it above.
- Saying goodbye – constantly having to say goodbye to new relationships and places was probably one of the most difficult pieces but I ended up realizing that this was a normal part of my journey. I wrote about it in my China letter to you
- Crushes who didn’t want me back – sometimes my crushes are INTENSE and once I had it, it like wouldn’t go away and I would basically just be sad about it lolololol – I wrote about it here.
Below are random thoughts, questions, and learnings I wrote down during my two year journey. I wrote these in my notebook, in my journal, in my letters to you, and/or in my monthly Bush reports. I pulled out what I believe are some of my most intriguing thoughts. Some of them may not make too much sense to you without context, but that’s okay 😛
On Asian Americans, on movement building, on politics, and our world:
- How do we as AA, use our racialization in a positive way? Asians are seen as unthreatening, how do we use this to the benefit of us and movement work?
- How little control of our own Asian American narrative we actually have
- We don’t need more organizers in the movement, we need more admin people, more lawyers, healers, therapists.
- Our elections have tremendous local and global ramifications
- While the US democracy fails on many levels, it continues to be a model for many striving nations.
- The privilege of being a US citizen abroad
- The right question isn’t what do we need to do. The question is who we want to become.
- Hard on systems. Soft on people.
- I want a politics that imagines the impossible
- Queerness as a political identity. Queerness as a fight. Queerness as a dream.
- Amazes me how little people in the US know about China
- It’s as if the Chinese state, in an effort to create a more unified Chinese identity across the world is actually pushing the diaspora further and further away from this unity through their policies
- As much as I shit on America, when I was abroad I did find myself defending it quite a bit to people, especially in China.
- China and the US have SO much in common in terms of their government, the way they act in the world, and how they are treating people.
- Globalization: Are we really all in this together?
- The rise of communism in Asia after WW2 I think has less to do with people believing in the ideas of communism, but instead it was an alternative to colonialism and imperialism. Capitalism was tied to imperialism and colonialism. Communism was tied to freedom and self-determination.
- Instead of putting so much focus on these labels, maybe we should just be thinking more about how to make people decent human beings? How we teach people empathy? How we teach people to care about others, their community, their planet?
- Our fight is so much deeper than our political and ideological differences. It’s about valuing each other and these values simply don’t exist.
- People aren’t suffering because they don’t have a job to go to, people are suffering because we live in a society that requires you to work in order to survive. People are suffering because our government doesn’t guarantee a right to livelihood.
- Politics is not constantly front and center of people’s minds
- American pop culture and influence is everywhere. It’s inescapable.
- The actions of the state don’t represent the views, identities, values, of the country and its people.
- I’ve learned to appreciate home and America more
- Using airdrop as an organizing tactic in packed areas to spread messages
- People around the world are face larger hurdles, more danger, when they go out to protest. Police show more “restraint” in the US.
- The political situation in HK is similar to the rest of the world but also very different in terms of immigration. The lines of power are more blurry. Chinese state has power. Mainland investors have power. But not all mainland migrants are rich, in fact many are not and they go to HK for opportunity. HK anger at mainlanders is directed at both the state, the rich, and the migrants.
- The CPC is evil AF, but also quite effective.
- I’ve seen how certain leftist governments and policies have devastated people’s lives. The how matters just as much as the what. And we don’t nearly think hard enough about the how. It’s about our values, how we execute them, and the belief in the type of world we want to create. It’s less about the dogma and more about the practical implementation.
- What does it mean to associate myself with the left, socialism, progressivism, etc? Why do I consider people who think different from me as adversaries? Are people with different ideologies adversaries? But we don’t have to buy into the left vs right framework, do we?
- Living in a globalized world requires global solutions and global leadership.
- Instead of changing peoples’ ideologies, can we culturally shift to just make people better, more decent, human beings? Especially in our current age of instant satisfaction, call out culture, internet trolls, fake news, celebrity activism, and the real threat of right wing power domination
- At the border: It’s easy to read about something and think about it in your mind, but when you are seeing it with your own eyes, when you smell it, when you feel it, when you are there…it’s totally different.
- What kind of cities do we want to be and for who? How do we move beyond reactionary/band-aid approaches? Is it possible to create a city that is liveable for everyone? Do markets/capitalism dictate to us that wealthy areas are inaccessible to poor people? Are gentrification and displacement inescapable?
- Walkability and bike-ability scores don’t matter in Asia. People will still walk and people will still bike everywhere.
- Evening lights make cities prettier, and it makes the atmosphere of a city livelier. More lights please. They also make cities feel safer.
- So do trees and plants. And parks. More of all these too.
- Development – 1) Localized focus, 2) community building, 3) loving the earth
- I find myself enjoying medium sized cities the most. They tend to have everything that big cities have, but without all the negative stuff – pollution, overpopulation, traffic – they feel more manageable to navigate, the people seem more down to earth. Maybe I’m destined to live in Minneapolis for ever.
- What does an easy to navigate transit system look like? What does and can free transit look like? How do we afford this?
- What do green regenerative buildings look like?
- Balancing green space in cities
- Rules and regulations don’t necessarily equate nor create cultural norms. Cultural norms are created through generations.
- What does it mean for our city to be an ecosystem? What does it look like for us to live in an ecosystem?
- How do we think bigger and beyond, our current systems? How do we dream for that vision and practically implement it?
- How do we also sustain localized economies so that we are not so dependent on outsiders for our livelihood?
On personal growth and leadership
- Meditation as a practice. Everything in life as a practice.
- What brings me joy each day?
- In terms of individual leadership, there are moments where others look to us for leadership, and it’s up to us to choose whether to embrace this leadership or not.
- “It’s okay to let go” – it’s okay to let go of things that aren’t working to create room for something greater and more beautiful
- We don’t need all the answers before we lead, we rarely ever have.
- So much about how I feel during a day is about mindset. What I look forward to, what I let excite me. What do you let control your mind? How do you get yourself up for joy, success, happiness? It’s all in your mind.
- We shouldn’t back down from our fears. In fact, we should face them. We should dig into them. We should sit in it, struggle in it. And know that in the end, I will come out a stronger person because of it. The tension doesn’t feel so great right now, but I’m excited for what comes out at the end.
- What kind of role model and mentor do I want to be? Especially to queers, who don’t know what it means to be queer other than what they see on tv. Unlike race or gender, we don’t learn how to be queer until we are older. Who is showing us?
- Running for office as your true authentic self is inspiring and an act of courage
- The ripple effects of me running for office as a queer Asian American are not even imaginable. Just by existing and doing this, means something.
- What’s your most audacious idea?
- When you’re traveling like me, little moments have deeper meaning. There’s a special place where the memory gets filed. “Wow I can’t believe I’m here at this place doing this thing”
- Fears – what does it mean to live a courageous life? Sometimes fears hold me back from doing the simplest things — change the framing to opportunity for growth and to learn
- “I’m falling for China, I think. Wow. Never thought I’d say that. Well not China per say. But its people. This place. The language. Something. The way people act, especially how they flirt online, is really cute.”
- Sometimes a slow and relaxing meal by yourself is like the best thing ever.
- Making a commitment to self care is about making a commitment to myself.
- Why do the littlest things paralyze me?
- I’ve been on this stride lately of thinking beyond what we currently know or think is possible. Dreaming of beyond, in all aspects of life. I don’t know how to put this into words exactly but we’re so used to the same old same old that we can’t even imagine thinking of doing things differently.
- What are the moments where you’ve felt most alive? What does it mean to feel alive?
- Learning how to let go, say goodbye. Learning that my feelings are always transient. Moving on is ok, maybe difficult, but something good can come out of it.
- There’s so much I don’t know still. There’s so much more out there. There’s so much more I want to see and learn.
- Star Wars saved my life
- What does it look like for me to grow old, be joyful, and healthy?
On boys and relationships
- Is it possible to have short, meaningful, and intimate experiences with people you barely know? And then let them go?
- “I am an attractive and confident person with a charming personality. People are attracted to me. Don’t forget!” -me constantly telling myself
- Crushes consume a lot of my energy… my feelings are STRONG and it’s all I can think of at that time
- How is it that my feelings can be so strong for one person and then a week later those feelings can disappear like they meant nothing? How is it that I can feel such strong feelings for multiple people at the same time? What does this say about our relationships and the depth of our emotions?
- Hits and misses come with the territory of dating apps. Some guys really don’t look like their photos in real life, while others who are questionable in their photos are really hot in real life!
- The sad part is meeting all these boys who I share feelings for and not being able to engage or date them. But would I actually wanna date them? LoL
- Feeling self-conscious/anxious — “it’s a feeling that’s haunted me forever.. Like ever since I first came out but I think even before then. It’s a feeling of insecurity. Makes me feel stuck, small, shy, dumb, like I’m not myself. Unliked. Paralyzing. Like I don’t know what to say. And it spirals. The feelings and reactions build on each other. And I don’t know how to stop it. It comes from this place of wanting to be liked. And when I like someone I start second guessing myself because I want them to like me too. I start reading into things to give my mind an excuse to support my crazy thought that the person doesn’t like me back or that they think I’m annoying or that they’re just being nice to me. This may be one of my greatest demons of all. What do I even call it? It’s like I read into things to make myself believe that I’m not worthy. Not good enough. That I’m boring. And then it becomes a cycle because I start worrying about it so much then I start second guessing everything I’m saying. Over analyze it. And that then impacts my thoughts again. It’s a vicious cycle. How do you get back to “normal?” What does that look like? How do you stop worrying and just live?”
- Age matters not – Some younger guys are so much more mature than older guys
- It’s really interesting how fast I get sick of boys lmao!
- There’s something about a really short time with someone that makes it more… intense. Passionate. But also sad. All the emotions are a bit intensified.
- I want someone who will take care of me, first and foremost. I need someone who can support me. Understands my role and is willing to be by my side in that role. Someone to be a thinking partner. Who understands the vision, who is willing to fight for it as much as I am. Someone to grow old with. Understands family. Knows the sacrifice. Someone I can trust. Deeply. I can go out and have fun with. Who is their own person. Has their own life, their own dreams, their own vision for themselves.
Favorite cities – I think I really do like medium-large cities. Not necessarily like huge mega cities though. I think I like medium sized cities because they feel more real and authentic. They feel less like corporate metropolises. They are slower paced. There’s actual green space. They have a unique charm. I think also, there are less tourists in these cities so you really see the local culture and everyday life more easily. It feels more “real” in a sense. And at the same time, they still have a lot of the benefits of being a city. Maybe it’s the Minneapolis boy coming out. Anyway, here’s a list of my favorites in no particular order…
Hiroshima, Japan – I loved it here after coming from the Megacity of Tokyo and the tourist town of Hakone. It just felt… quaint, calm, relaxed. It felt manageable (unlike Tokyo). There was a lot of natural beauty too, a river that flows through the city, a large park smack in the middle. Very walkable and bikeable. The culture also felt more authentic and real. I felt like I could breathe.
Toronto, Canada – I think I liked Toronto because while it was a big city, it didn’t feel massive like a NYC. It sort of felt like SF in a way. I really liked seeing all the Asian representation there. They had really a good transit system there too.
Chengdu, China – Chengdu is actually quite a big city, but I found it to be much more manageable than Beijing and Shanghai. Like Hiroshima, it just felt more real and authentic. And really pretty, like there were different colored sidewalk lights, tree lights, building lights, everywhere. Also, the people were like REALLY hip and cool. Like trendy young people everywhere. Lastly – THE FOOD. I think some of the best food I had during my fellowship was in Chengdu. NO LIE!
Xiamen, China – Definitely the most beautiful city I went to. On the ocean. The unique building architecture all over the city lit up at night was so beautiful. Also great food. Plus this is where I met Harry :))
Saigon, Vietnam – Great food. Beautiful architecture. Fun places. Really cute guys 😛
Vitoria, Brasil – Such a beautiful city. On the ocean. Beautiful landscapes, mountains, islands. People felt down to earth.
Atlanta, USA – I think I really enjoyed Atlanta and part of it was seeing how diverse the city is. I particularly liked seeing a booming black middle class and seeing black businesses everywhere I went.
San Francisco, USA – Ok, I think there’s a lot to say about SF, but I still really enjoyed my time there. Maybe it’s because I have so many friends and family there, but the bay area is still a really great place. Especially Oakland!
Galway, Ireland – Galway has some beautiful architecture and scenery. It was just really pretty everywhere I walked around when I was there.
Best food – Top food from across my travels, in no particular order. Are you excited to see this food porn? 😛
Chinese BBQ rice plate – ok so I needed a SEPARATE category for this. It’s a very cantonese dish. Very simple, it’s Chinese BBQ placed on top of rice. You can choose different types of meat (BBQ pork, roast pork, roast duck, white chicken, soy sauce chicken, and other meats). Usually I order, BBQ Pork, Roast Pork, and Roast Duck Rice combo plate. But sometimes I’d switch it up. This was like my go to meal when I wasn’t sure what else to order or else I was just basically always craving this lmao. These were just the photos I took. I def ate it more times than this lol.
Most beautiful/magnificent places
Peak in Vitoria, Brasil
Tianchi Lake, Xinjiang Province, China
Great Wall of China
Rattlesnake Ledge, Washington State, USA
Yellowstone National Park, USA
Zhongyuan farm, Zhengzhou Province, China
Farm outside Guangdong Province, China
The bund, Shanghai, China
Rio Beach, Rio de Janiero, Brasil
Krabi beach, Krabi, Thailand
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Westminster Abbey, London, UK
Forbidden City, Beijing, China
My favorite photos
Favorite blog posts – these are my fav blog posts. I’m not really sure why they’re my favorites. I guess I just put a lot of thought into these ones and I feel like they show a lot of what was going through at the time.
- Peace is Every Step
- Home and the Other Side
- Closing Out Year One
- A Foreign Land, A Familiar Place
- A New World is Possible
My Fellowship Album – Often I’ll listen to a song and it immediately reminds me of a feeling or place. This is an album I put together of the songs I heard for the first time during my fellowship. I kept it to my top 10. And curated the ordered for best listening 🙂
- Crashing, Illenium – Illenium is one of my favorite DJ’s. He released this song when I was in Tijuana and I first listened to it inside my bed cube in my hostel after a long day. It was exactly what I needed.
- I’m So Hot, MOMOLAND – I heard this song at a Kpop gay bar in Seoul. A bunch of boys got up on stage and started dancing to this song like Karaoke for kpop dancing. It was so fun. So new. Like I’ve never experienced before. And the song stuck with me forever.
- 因为爱情 (Because of Love), Eason Chan & Faye Wong – I was listening to songs by Faye Wong, recommended by Harry. Faye Wong is a famous Chinese singer from HK. My dad used to listen to her all the time. But I was in Hanoi, Vietnam walking around when I heard this song pop up on my spotify and immediately fell in love, I think partially because I could understand some of the lyrics 😂 but also it’s just really nice. The song title is, “Because of Love.”
- Upon My Shoulders, Markus Schulz – I first heard this song when I went to see Markus Schulz live in LA during NYE with the MN boys. It was a really fun time.
- hey you got drugs?, Tove Lo – I first heard this song pop up on my spotify as I was walking across the Manhattan Bridge in NYC. As I was listening I began to cry. Idk why. There was something about the way in which she was singing, the yearning and desperation, that connected me to her.
- Nunca Especially Suficiente, Los Angeles Azules – This was a song we played at our office space in Tijuana every day. It helped us bring joy to the space and helped bring people together. Sometimes folks would get up and dance. Plus it’s just a really great song!
- SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK, Joji – I first heard this song as I was riding on a motorbike with a boy in Cambodia. He was giving me a tour of Phnom Penh, Cambodia and we were just sharing music we liked. He introduced me to this song.
- 彩虹 (Rainbow), A-Mei Chang – I heard this song for the first time in a gay club in Chengdu, China. The title is “Rainbow” and my friend said A-Mei is like the “Chinese Lady Gaga.” Meaning like, the gays love her. Anyway, when the song came on the whole place stopped and everyone started waving their arms and singing along. It was such a sweet moment.
- Oceans Away, ARIZONA – This song reminds me of Toronto and a boy. I believe I was in my room when I first heard this song as I was listening to a bunch of ARIZONA’s other songs. But as I left Toronto, I constantly played this song. It made me nostalgic thinking about this boy who was thousands of miles away and I couldn’t be with.
- Alive, Dabin – I think this is one of my favorite songs ever. I heard this song on spotify when I was walking around on the streets of Siem Reap, Cambodia. I definitely cried. I feel like this song is my life anthem right here. It perfectly matches the trajectory of my life to where I was at the moment and everything that I was feeling. It’s so great. Plus, the song is also just really good.
There’s one more thing I want to say. I’m sure you know, my friend Michael recently passed. He was the sweetest, most kind, and caring human being in the world. (And also one of the most fun and shady but that’s a convo for another day). He was one of the few people who constantly checked in on me during my two years away. I later learned after his passing that he was like this with everyone. Literally person after person came out and said that Michael was always there for them. He was always the first person who was there in times of hardship. He would let strangers into his home who didn’t have a place to sleep or who needed a shower. He didn’t have much, but that was just the type of person he was. I guess I say this because his death has reminded me the importance of being just a good and decent person. Like, we can argue all day about our politics, our ideologies, our vision for the world but at the end of the day, are we actually good people? Are you actually a kind and caring human being? Do you show compassion towards others, especially those in need? Do you care about your community, your friends, your family? Because if not, nothing else really matters. My politics means nothing if I’m still a shitty person. So yeah, idk, after two years of traveling around the world, it still comes back to something incredibly simple and yet so important.
And that’s it. Thank you my friend, so much, for being with me on this journey. I couldn’t have done it without you. Really. You encouraged me, supported me, showed me love, and gave me confidence in moments that I needed it most. Maybe I’ll write to you again. Or maybe I won’t. Who knows. Sometimes it’s good to have an ending to things, even though it can be kinda scary or sad or nostalgic. But with endings come beginnings. And I’m excited for that next beginning. I know you’ll be a part of it too 🙂 Thanks again for being such a great friend. I love you.