I took a trip back to the UC Berkeley campus last Saturday morning on the ten-year anniversary of my very first day. During this trip, I remembered something very vividly: a specific experience during my first semester.
It was November, 2004. My academic life was taking off, and my first semester at UCB was inching toward closure. My home and personal life was in shambles after numerous years of depression and self-deprication took their toll on my relationships with my family and friends. I cried every single day and night. I was living at 2330 Blake Street, in a terrible, spider-infested hole with terrible house-mates whom I didn't really care for. It was during that time that I kept an item with me at all times: a scarf. The scarf was sheer and navy blue, with black decorations like ink marks. It was a gift from Aaron from years earlier. He was always nice to me, even during the times he hated me and couldn't stand me. Truth be told, I didn't really have anyone in my life at that time that didn't hate me for what I had done and who I had become. I was alone in every sense of the word. I kept the scarf with me at all times. I would only be without it for just long enough to take a shower. I would tie it around my wrist under my sweater so that I could keep it with me at all times to remind myself that no matter how terrible I was that there once a time when there was some value in me. If it wasn't tied around my wrist, it was around my neck or in my pocket. I have memories of sitting in anime club crying in the dark theater feeling the fabric of it against my skin. I would sleep with it bound around my left wrist and when I would wake up crying I would clutch it to try to keep myself tethered to reality. On one particularly cold, rainy, blustery day I stopped at the Boba Cafe to get myself a drink, a small infrequent luxury in a time when all I could do was hate myself. When I stepped outside to walk home with my almond milk tea in hand, a gust of wind strong enough to almost knock me over blew past and ripped the scarf off of my wrist. That scarf was the most important thing in my life, my only lifeline at that time when everything seemed so terrible. I chased the scarf down the street for so many blocks. I finally caught up to it on the corner of Dana and Bancroft. I picked it up, the wind still beating against my back, and clutched the scarf to me like a lost child. I cried and held the scarf tightly in my fingers as I walked back to Blake Street.
When I was in Berkeley last Saturday, I stood on the corner of Dana and Bancroft and remembered that moment ten years ago. I remembered how I felt and was almost moved again to tears for how I used to feel. I'm so grateful that I had something to hold on to in that time that made continuing possible. I'm at a better place now than I ever thought possible, and I am so grateful for that item in that terrible time. I still have the scarf. I keep it in a drawer in my dresser and to this day I know where it is at all times, still a wonderful reminder of my own value when I forget.
I don't know about your uncle, but I'll try to get a message to your Aunt Nancy
I cannot believe I said that...
- The Scarf