Alone Time

Having quality alone time is a great way for relationships to recharge. This is true for any relationship – whether it’s a friendship, romantic relationship, or even family relationships. However, what sometimes goes under the radar is how important it is to nourish the relationship you have with yourself. Needing or wanting time to yourself does not make you a bad friend, girlfriend/ boyfriend, wife/ husband, mom/dad, etc. Sometimes the best way to reconnect with yourself is to disconnect from everything else from time to time.

It dawned on me not too long ago that I’ve never actually been completely alone for a long period of time in my life. I’ve always lived with my family, and once I moved out, it was with my significant other. When I lived with my family, going over Christian’s place was my get away. When Christian and I wanted to do our own thing for the day, I would stay at home. When I needed “me time,” I would stay in my room longer or try to get as much TV time in the living room as I could before someone came in and wanted to watch something. But I was never really actually “alone,” given that there were 4 other people in the household. Now that Christian and I live together, when we need space, we do our own thing. However, it can get tricky, given that we essentially have a 1 bedroom 1 bath living situation. So in that sense, having “alone” time is not actually being alone, but more so being left alone.

I feel like this is not a unique scenario. Commonly, we live with our parents and family until a certain age, then some move out to go to college, where they end up living with roommates, some move out with their significant others, some wait to get married before making the transition to live with their partner, some move in with friends to gain independence, and so on. It’s not uncommon to go from living with family to living with others, whether that be roommates by choice or for other financial reasons. And it got me thinking – Do I know what it’s like to actually be alone? And I’m not talking about having the house to yourself for a couple of hours, or being cooped up in your room avoiding the people you live with – I’m talking actually A L O N E.

I know there are some that do know what it feels like to live alone independently with no roommates or family. However, that ain’t me. I was brought up on the notion that you only leave the nest when you marry your person and start your life together. Traditionally in Filipino households, it’s not uncommon to stay under your parents’ roof until that time comes. That could mean living in your family home until you’re 35+, and that’s not considered weird. We were conditioned to think that in order to leave the family home, it meant that you’d be moving in with someone else to build a future with. Being alone is the exact opposite of what our culture would want – there is no need to move out on your own solo.

I feel like to an extent, that feeds into the notion that being alone is something to be feared, something that is taboo, something that you don’t want to happen to you. And like I said, that’s not only relationship wise. Being alone at a movie theatre, dinning somewhere to eat, going to an event solo, for example, are activities that some would never be caught doing on their own. If you would’ve interviewed me in high school, or even my first year in college, I’d be among the crowd that would say they would never be alone in public if they had a choice not to be. I would prefer to be at the mall or run errands with Christian, my sisters, or friends. I definitely would not dine out by myself, in fear of what others would think seeing me sit alone. And sleeping alone completely by myself in the house? Bitch, unspeakable because I’d be replaying every single ghost story, horror movie, and Dateline episode in my brain.

But as of lately, probably the last 5 or 6 years or so, I have been enjoying doing things solo. I think community college is really what set it off – because I literally had no choice. I enjoyed picking my own classes and making my own schedule. In the beginning I picked classes with my friends since we were all doing general courses. But once I started to pick classes for my major and to get me to transfer in time, we all kind of started doing our own thing. That meant that I was in classes with people I didn’t know and by myself in between classes. And I loved that shit. It gave me a new gained independence, where I no longer cared if I was eating at the mall food court alone, taking bus alone, or running errands by myself on my free time.

Especially the last 2-3 years I’ve been craving to have significant amount of time to myself. And it’s inevitable that you will eventually want alone time and space for yourself when you’ve lived with others your whole life. I could only recall one night that I slept in mine and Christian’s place completely alone when he had to attend an important event for a friend in SoCal. But even then it was barely a night to myself – I worked 8-5, was in bed by 11 PM, and woke up for work the next day at 7 AM. Lately, I’ve been daydreaming of what I would do by myself if I were to be alone for a couple of days. The Aquarius in me needs that alone time to reflect and recharge. And for once I wanted to get a taste of what it’s like to be alone with myself for days on end – an experience I’ve never had before.

Finally, the time has come for the long anticipated 2 week summer break. I have been counting down the months, weeks, days, and hours for this exact moment. When Christian told me months ago that he was planning to visit SoCal to meet up with friends, I highly encouraged that he go solo. In the past, I would tag along to some of his trips back home during our work breaks so we could explore and be together during our time off. Since he’s in the Bay Area, he’s around my friends and family majority of the time. Going to SoCal is not only a good change of scenery, but it allows me to see his home and those that are important to him. Orange County to Christian is what the Bay Area is to me.

This time around, Christian wanted to visit SoCal for a specific reason. Naturally, he asked me if I wanted to tag along, and encouraged me to come. Under the circumstances of why he wanted to visit home, I thought it was best he go on the trip solo to have that alone time with his friends. Being in a relationship for so long, I see the importance of being around your partner’s friends and family, but I also know how important it is to give your partner that quality alone time with them as well. Especially since I have my boyfriend living in my stomping grounds, I know how crucial it is to let your partner do their own thing sometimes. I internally cringe when couples can’t be somewhere without the other from time to time – but that’s a post for another day.

I also thought it was a good idea for him to go solo so I could finally have some alone time. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. We have been together over 7 years and counting, it’s crazy to think that I have seen him on such a consistent basis for almost a decade. And even though we have mastered letting each other do their own thing, I’ve realized that I’ve never really been completely “alone” my whole damn life. Now, let me clear this shit up right now – I’m not talking about relationship wise, ya girl was no stranger to being alone. I’m talking about being alone in the literal sense.

When people asked why I wanted to spend a chunk of my 2 week break alone, it was an easy question to answer. I explained it as such: When I visit home, I am surrounded by my family. They can be in their own rooms, living room, kitchen, backyard, bathrooms – the actual room in the house doesn’t matter. Basically – I am around others at home no matter what. That means being aware that I’m not the only one who wants to watch TV, shower, use the bathroom, play loud music, sleep all day, have errands to run, etc. When I’m at home with Christian, we are in the same room 98% of the time when we’re both home. We share the TV, bathroom, when his alarm goes off it wakes me up even if the alarm is not relevant to me, we take turns playing our own music out loud, we need to be aware of each other’s likes and dislikes when it comes to cleanliness, and how to spend our time together. This is all normal things of living with others, simply just being considerate of each others’ space, time, and likes and dislikes. All of this is completely fine. But I craved the idea of doing my own thing – completely – since I’ve never been able to do so in the past.

I’m so used to being around people all the time, whether that be at work, home, family life, social life, etc. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being around my family, friends, and loved ones when I’m not at work. But I realized the importance of knowing when to reconnect and spend time with yourself. I’ve had my alone time here and there – going to another room, having a couple of hours to myself, doing an activity or errand by myself, and so on, but never being completely solo for a significant amount of time. Especially when my work has long 1 or 2 week breaks, we always end up going somewhere, have the big holidays to attend, and travel. All of that is fun and what I crave from time to time, but it also makes the break pass by really fast. I wanted to take time to slow down, do things on my own time, reflect, write, and do all the things I wanted to do for so long if I ever got the time to myself.

And this break, it finally happened. 4.5 days with the house to myself for the first time in my life. And it couldn’t have gone more perfectly. I enjoyed every part of it. I wasn’t completely alone for the whole 4.5 days, as I had plans to meet up with friends throughout that time, but I cherished the late night hours I had to myself and the early mornings where I started off my day alone with my thoughts. Nothing feels better than having no alarms set because the day is completely yours. I did everything on my time, hung out with people when I wanted to, and stayed alone when I wanted to. I got the chance to enjoy our house completely to myself day in and day out. It was a new found independence that I knew I would enjoy.

I spent the last 4.5 days doing all the things that I wanted to do – write, take myself out on a Japanese BBQ date, finish Sex And The City and all the movies, eat bomb food everyday, see friends during the daytime for a change since I can only do dinners throughout the work week, get a massage with my best friend, have a relaxing bubble bath, and start a new project. I made sure to set aside 1 whole day where I had absolutely no plans so I could have the whole day to enjoy my own company. It was really important to me to have that whole day to just myself. It was the perfect opportunity for me to recharge and rest.

Life has felt like I’ve been on a hamster wheel ever since June 2020 when work reopened. I feel like life has picked back up, and I have yet to catch a break since. These last 4.5 days has been the perfect way for me to get back in touch with myself. In these 4.5 days, I put me first every time. I did whatever I wanted to do, did things on my time, rested when I wanted to, went out and stayed in when I felt like it. There was no schedule, no obligation to spend my time in any particular way, and it was amazing. I feel refreshed, more independent, and more connected to myself.

It’s important to nurture the different relationships you have in your life. But never forget to nurture the relationship you have with yourself. Like any relationship, you need that quality 1 on 1 time. Never stop dating yourself. Get comfortable being alone with yourself, your thoughts, and working on recharging your social battery. Sometimes when you feel like life is moving too fast, you need to take a step back and check in with yourself every so often. I’m glad I had the opportunity to do that.

Valentine’s Day – Celebrate Love

When I was a kid, Valentine’s Day was definitely one of my favorite holidays. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up a hopeless romantic, or because the fact that Valentine’s Day is the day before my birthday. When Valentine’s Day things start selling at stores, that was my way of knowing that my birthday was just around the corner. Valentine’s Day and my birthday went hand in hand. I loved love and I felt the love on each of my birthdays.

Growing up I thought Valentine’s Day was one of the most important days to show your significant other / crush how much they mean to you. I mean, it is the holiday of love. I dreamt of the day when a boy would surprise me with chocolate and flowers, confessing their love for me and worshiping the ground I walked on. Of course that’s the fairytale the media tries to feed you, and I gobbled that shit up as a kid. I was a hopeless romantic in my young adolescent years, and when feelings weren’t reciprocated, my ass would be emo as fuck. You know, young teen feeling like you’re forever in the friendzone.

I’ve had my fair share of cringe experiences regarding Valentine’s Day that I thought was the end of the world at the time. One of my best friends, Julie, will never let me forget that one Valentine’s Day in high school. We joke about it now, how it was the worst Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had, and how she was my emotional punching bag for a split second. (Love you, Julz.) And for a while, the magic of Valentine’s Day kind of faded away for me. It was definitely a mixture of growing up and realizing not everything is like the movies, but also not having the best luck in love. The holiday just wasn’t a big deal to me if I didn’t have someone to celebrate it with.

Valentine’s Day is sold to us as a day to celebrate romantic love with your significant other. You must shower your loved one with gifts, flowers, chocolate, dinner, and maybe even a social media shoutout or 2. The 14th of February is supposed to be romance all day, being totally infatuated with one another. And if it isn’t all the above, we are made to feel like the relationship is lacking, not real or genuine, or the feelings are not mutual. Are the expectations of Valentine’s Day ruining the holiday all together?

It seems like there are always 2 main types of Valentine’s Day people – the ones that are hopelessly in love and take the holiday very seriously, or the singles that dread the day because it reminds them that the are not paired up. We have taken a holiday that is meant to show and express love to only be meaningful if it is a romantic relationship. But there are so many more relationships than just romantic ones. And putting those unrealistic expectations on each other for Valentine’s Day can easily make the holiday a big disappointment.

When Christian and I had our first Valentine’s Day in 2015, I felt all that Valentine’s Day magic come back. He got me my first bouquet of flowers and we had our first real date together. It felt as though I finally got what I hoped for as a little girl – someone to spend Valentine’s Day with and do all the cliché date and gift exchanges. This Valentine’s Day will be mine and Christian’s 8th Valentine’s Day together. Clearly we have gotten to know each other very well over the last 7 years, and it has made me view Valentine’s Day in a completely different way as a result.

Christian and I still spend every single Valentine’s Day together, no matter what day it falls on. I can always expect flowers, chocolate, hot cheetos, and little gifts, accompanied by a dinner. But over the years I feel like we have made the holiday less of a “big deal,” and not in a bad way. We don’t need a specific day out of the year to tell us to appreciate each other, and be thankful for each other’s love. But the day is a great reminder to reflect on it. Sometimes when you’ve been with someone for so long, you forget to celebrate your love.

And since we have been together for so long, the holiday isn’t about gifts, or the dinners, or the flowers anymore. For me, Valentine’s Day is more of a reminder. It’s a day where I can acknowledge that I am not rainbows and sunshine all the time. That’s just reality and real life. Each person, whether that be a lover, friend, acquaintance, has their short comings and things they need to work on. There are definitely days where I am not easy to love. There are times when I’m a straight savage, my words hurt like daggers to the heart, and sometimes it may feel like we take 1 step forward and 10 more back. But Valentine’s Day is that reminder that even when I have my moments of being unlikeable, I still have someone who is sticking it out with me and genuinely loving me for me.

And that’s a beautiful thing – to confidently know that despite your differences, someone is willing to continuously love you through your many stages of growth. Throughout the years, we have definitely had our many ups and many downs. We have seen each other at our complete worst and best. We have got to know all the different parts and versions of each other. Though Valentine’s Day is just one day out of the whole year and can’t possibly contain all the love you have for a person or relationship, taking a day to just hangout together and acknowledge the love that is there is a great feeling. No pressure, no expectations, just mutual feelings of love. The holiday serves as a gentle nudge to take us out of our comfort zone and usual routines, even just for one day.

And Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be just limited to romantic relationships. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen the holiday be more about love in general than romantic love. And that’s the same in my personal life as well. I started celebrating all aspects of my life where love flows. Love for my partner, friends, and family. I used to view Valentine’s Day as a day only meant to celebrate romantic relationships. But now, I am so grateful for my small circle and those I surround myself with, that the holiday is a lot more fun to celebrate when you broaden it to everyone you love in life.

I go about Valentine’s Day like a second Thanksgiving at this point. Just celebrating those I love and letting them know their friendship and place in my life is greatly appreciated. I hope all my readers feel the love especially today. Let today serve as a gentle reminder to be grateful and thankful for the ones that love you for you. For the ones that have seen you at your worst, know your flaws and shortcomings, but are still by your side.

Rhonda: Heart Of Gold

Illustration By: Marielle Cabillo (Instagram: @work_in_progress.ai)

If you were to ask me how Rhonda and I got close, I really couldn’t tell you. She was my dad’s first cousin, meaning she was my 2nd cousin, or aunt, or whatever the correct term is. With a 25+ year age gap, Rhonda still insisted that we were “cousins.” So to mess with her, we gave her the nickname “Tita-Lola” (Auntie Grandma).

In the past, the only times I’d ever really see Rhonda in person were at family reunions that are held once a year. Well, reunions and funerals. Our family is so big that we’ll probably never get every single family member at an event…. ever. Despite not growing up together, not seeing each other often, and probably not acknowledging each other at events for the first decade plus of my life, Rhonda and I managed to have a very close bond.

I feel like social media is what helped break the ice in our relationship. When Rhonda added me on social media, I feel like I was given a key into her heart and soul. You know the saying that social media is just the window into someone’s house? That you can only see what they want you to see? That wasn’t the case for Rhonda. Her social media platforms unlocked the door and let you freely roam the “House of Tita-Lola.” If being an open book had a picture in the dictionary, it would have a big ass picture of Rhonda’s selfie.

Rhonda had no problem sending a friend request to anyone and everyone involved with our family. If you were at a family reunion once, have a last name she recognized, or had mutual friends, you probably got a request on Facebook or Instagram. Family meant everything to Rhonda. She knew all the chisme, all the extended family, and wanted to share everything she knew about my great-grandparents and our family history. And whether you wanted to know all that information or not, if you followed her on any socials, you had no choice but to see it.

Tita-Lola did not give a shit about over posting. That term did not exist to her. She used her social media pages more like a Twitter account with how often she posted. But that’s how I, and probably many others, felt like we were close to her without really speaking much in person. Rhonda shared her personal life, opinions, likes, dislikes, family history, rants, and how she was managing her illness. Nothing was off limits to post about. Anything less than 10 posts a day would have me thinking, “Is Rhonda okay?”

Though she loved to share everything online, in person, she took a while to warm up. Rhonda was cool with everyone in the family, but with people she didn’t know very well, she would be a little shy to start up a conversation. But don’t let the shyness fool you – she probably knew everything about you from what you posted on social media. Rhonda would just be waiting for the perfect time to break the ice and attempt to start a conversation.

My sisters and I and our other 2nd cousins initially bonded with Rhonda by (dare I say it…) low-key bullying her. It was all fun and games, and Rhonda was the perfect person to joke around with because she’d sit there, laugh her ass off, but continue to take the mild abuse. Whenever she’d try to defend herself or shit talk us back, we would rebuttal with another joke. Those were good times. And now that I look back, I laugh in my head because we were really out here cappin’ on our fuckin elder and didn’t even know her like that yet hahahah.

I just know that when she realized how foolish and ridiculous my sisters and I can get, she felt more than comfortable to be around us. We got closer and closer as the years passed, and it was no longer awkward to just approach each other at family reunions or other gatherings. It was such a significant age gap, but our relationship just worked. Each family gathering, the Cabillo and Prado girls would gather around to mess with Rhonda, and she loved that shit. It was always a good time when we all got together. Every time we would go home after a gathering, my heart felt full.

I got really close to Rhonda in the last decade. It all started with jokes and acting a fool, but throughout the years, I got to know Rhonda on a deeper level. We had our fun and games moments in person, but we also vented about our lives on a serious note. I knew Rhonda behind the social media posts, the jokes, and the banter. I quickly learned about things that made her happy, things that made her sad, what she dwelled on, what was most important to her, what motivated her, and so on. She vented to me about her health, problems, and all the many situations she would get herself into. And bitch, there were many, hahaha. Rhonda, I know you’re looking down on me like “don’t you say nothing, beezy!”

Quickly, Rhonda became someone I could turn to if I needed someone to talk to, but most of the time, I listened. I listened to the many things that were on her mind. And I think that’s why we got so close. She had so much to say, and I listened and gave my 2 cents. Ironically, the girl that posted so much online to stay “connected,” felt overwhelmingly alone from time to time. I wanted to be there for her when she needed someone because I knew she would do the same for me. It was a great feeling knowing I had a family member who could offer me advice, judgement free.

Rhonda vented to me a lot about her health. I know she posted a lot about her situation on social media in detail, so it would kind of be a reiteration of what she already shared. Rhonda was very transparent with her health complications – she would post photos of her dialysis, her medicine shipments, her appointments, good and bad news, and everything in-between. Unknowingly, she gave us all a glimpse into her daily life, and we would see how much it took to upkeep her medications and treatments. Whether you wanted to see it or not, her followers got an overwhelming sense of her daily reality. Her posts would have you thinking, “Damn, how does she do it?” And yet, she did it. Tita-Lola was very hopeful, yet very realistic, about finding a kidney donor. Rhonda had my younger sister make business cards to help get the word around. She never gave up.

Rhonda’s health took up a lot of her time. Every appointment, every medication, every shot, every timed meal, was a constant reminder about her reality. There would be days where I talked to her, and she would unpack everything on her mind. I think what made our relationship special was the fact that we could be brutally honest with each other. I knew her daily routine took a huge toll on her, some days it would get to her more than others, and I had to remind her that it was okay. It was okay to feel what she was feeling, it was okay to feel sad, it was okay to vent out those emotions to me. What would make me especially sad was knowing that whatever I could say for comfort would not change her reality. That was the saddest part, to know that all I could do was be there for her and hope for a miracle.

Whether she realized it or not, Rhonda would find joy in the smallest things. I think that’s what made her so strong, the fact that she took on so much with her health on a day to day basis, but still managed to get excited off of the most random things. From PEZ, to music, to her celebrity girl crushes (the fact that I know her celebrity crushes though, bye lmfao), to anything San Francisco related (#BornAndBred) – these things alone could make her day. But nothing could make her day more than the interactions she had with Damian and Delilah. Her nephew and niece was her whole life. Rhonda would literally do anything to see a smile on their faces. She would document their small interactions on Facebook, and you could feel the overwhelming sense of love she had for them just by reading their commentary. They are what kept her going.

Everyone knows how big Rhonda was on family. And family just didn’t mean blood related, her friends became her family as well. Anyone who Rhonda considered “family,” she was loyal to for life. Once you made an imprint on Tita-Lola, she would never forget you. Even the friendships that drifted apart or ended on bad terms, she would still wish the best for that person. We would have many talks about people she remembered from the past, and how she still cherishes the friendships because it meant a lot to her at some point in her life. Rhonda always tried to give people the benefit of the doubt and see the good in them. If anything ever went sour, in her heart she wished them the best and clung to the good memories. She had such a big heart, and always chose to be the bigger person.

Family was everything to Rhonda. The love she had for her grandparents (my great-grandparents) was so strong that it could transcend lifetimes. Rhonda loved and missed them so much, I know that they had such a big impact on her life. I could tell that decades later, her grief from their passing was still fresh. However, she tried to use her sorrow in a positive way. She tried to educate the younger generations about our family history by telling us stories about the great-grandparents that I never got to meet. Every time Rhonda missed them, she would post a photo, a memory, or a story about them online. “This is where it all began, the reason why we’re all here,” my dad says every time we visit his grandparents’ grave. It was true, and Rhonda felt the exact same way. She took it upon herself to make sure that everybody in the family knew exactly where we came from, who started it all. She wanted to make sure that their names lived on in our family history.

A few weeks before her passing, it dawned on me that I haven’t checked up on Rhonda in a while. So, I texted her and we picked up from where we left off. She updated me about her life, what was going on, how her health was, etc. The last text message I sent her was after I read a status she posted on Facebook saying she was being taken off the donor list. It was a few weeks before she had her health complications, and I wanted her to know that a lot of people love and care about her. I didn’t know how to comfort her during this time, what do you say to someone that receives that kind of news? I just wanted her to know that I saw the update, and wanted to send my love.

When I heard the news that Rhonda passed away, of course I was devastated. It didn’t feel like reality. Rhonda? Tita-Lola Rhonda? Rhon?! It’s crazy because obviously I knew first hand how her health was declining, but you just never think that the day will come. And when that day does come, you’re stuck there, dumbfounded. I started to feel an immense amount of guilt, that the last couple of years we didn’t get to hangout as much due to COVID and personal schedules. I wanted to hangout with her and invite her over many times, but held off because of the pandemic. I felt that the last couple of years we weren’t as close as we used to be because we were off doing our own thing. Of course, when we would reconnect it was back to how it used to be, but I felt like I should’ve been there more towards the end.

When I start to get sad and feel guilty, I feel like I can hear Rhonda’s voice in my head, “Don’t worry about it, yo.” I know the last thing she would want me to do is feel guilty. It really didn’t matter how much time went by, whether we talked consistently or not, I knew that once we connected again, nothing would have changed, nothing would be awkward, we’d just pick up from where we left off and update each other on the important things. And I’m grateful that I got 1 last “what’s up” update before she transitioned out of this life.

Rhonda was always there for me for the important things. I knew that I could count on her to give me advice and listen to my troubles, judgment free. Tita-Lola was hands down one of my biggest cheerleaders. She supported my writing, was there to encourage me when I wasn’t confident in myself, and always let me know how proud she was of me with what I’m choosing to do with my writing. That’s why I felt comfortable to tell her the many ideas I have. “But I don’t know…” I would tell her at the end of a wishful thinking rant. I would explain 1 direction I wanted to take my writing, but then think of 5 other things I want to do. I knew I was all over the place, and would feel a little embarrassed as to what people’s opinions would be once I stopped talking. Rhonda would look at me and casually encourage me to do all of it. “Why not?”

She truly made me feel like I could do anything. Of course, the true push will have to come from me and me alone, but to know that I had Rhonda’s support and she was cheering me on from the sidelines in anything I chose, was a great feeling to know. Rhonda would never try to talk me out of the many ideas I had, and for that I’m grateful. She was so happy to see people be passionate about things, and she encouraged it in every way that she could. That’s just who Rhonda was – the most loving, supportive, and simpy mother fucker you will ever meet. I could laugh with her until I cried, but I could also get real with her and cry my heart out if I needed to. And I know she felt the same.

Rhonda was a giver. She would give you the clothes on her back if she thought you needed it. When she said she got you, she meant that shit. I know that because I have been on the receiving end of her generosity and love. Rhonda would listen, but her support wouldn’t just end there. She would literally try to see how she could help your situation, how she can personally make it better. If she loved you, Rhonda made your problem her problem, and if there was an immediate fix, she would do it. I don’t think I know too many people like that. If you knew Rhonda, consider yourself lucky. She was the most kind hearted person, giver by nature, and one of life’s true gems. Rhonda truly had a heart of gold, and I’ll miss her presence in my life.

I really can’t believe that Tita-Lola is gone. It’s a weird feeling to know that I can’t just text her, or DM her, or tag her in something. My Facebook and Instagram feed crickets as the main poster is no longer posting. It’s a trip to know that I’ll never see the green “online” symbol next to her handles. I have avoided reading through our text message and Instagram threads because I don’t want to get sad. Because it doesn’t feel like she’s totally gone. All her posts, pictures, stories, etc, they are living on. When I tagged her in a post a couple of days after she passed, I decided to read our Instagram chat. It was her encouraging me to take the next step, be independent, and accept an offer to move out. She told me, “How many more signs do you need :)? You’re a writer.” That was Tita-Lola, encouraging without being pushy. God, I miss her.

I find a huge comfort in knowing that Rhonda got the reunion she so desperately wanted with her grandparents. I know she has reunited with the many family members she has lost throughout the years. When I miss her or wish she was still here, I remind myself that she is finally at rest. Rhonda is no longer suffering, no longer in pain, no longer on her tedious schedule. She is at peace. And that alone brings me peace. Rhonda fought her fight, and now we have a real one looking over us from the other side.

Tita-Lola, I miss you. But I know you are at peace. I know that if anyone is pulling strings for me on the other side, it’s definitely you. The way you helped guide me and encourage me in this life, will be some of my most cherished memories of you. Before you went, you asked me to help you with our family’s family tree, and all these projects you had in mind. Like you did for my great-grandparents, I will make sure that you are remembered. I’ll have many photos of you flipping me off to share. Please continue to guide me like you always have.

Rest In Peace, Yo.

Cambria: Expect The Unexpected

“This is story 3 of 10 of LoveYourzStory’s Motherhood Series. 10 mothers give us a glimpse into a small portion of their motherhood journey. I am so grateful that these 10 women gave me the opportunity to share their stories on my platform. Though they focus on different topics, each mother has gone through challenges that tested their strength, patience, and sense of self. Thank you again for sharing.” -Marinelle, LoveYourzStory

This is Cambria’s story, written in her own words:

“When I found out I was pregnant I had so many mixed emotions. I was 25 years old and still figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. I had a decent job and a stable income, but kids were definitely not in my plans at that time. I was about 4-5 weeks along when I first found out I was pregnant. I remember I had gotten this really bad cramping which usually never happens to me. I hadn’t gone to the doctor yet to confirm my pregnancy so I wasn’t really sure what was happening. I ended up fainting from the pain and ended up pressed against the tile on my bathroom floor. Somehow, I managed to get myself undressed and threw myself into the shower while hyperventilating. It took me what felt like 30 minutes or so to get back to normal and gather myself together. After fainting, I already felt like this was a bad omen and I was not ready to have this child. 

I didn’t tell my parents about the pregnancy yet, but after that incident I felt the need to come clean to my mom. Me and my mom are very close, but for some reason I just felt so nervous telling her about what happened. After telling her about the whole situation, it comforted me a little bit just knowing that my boyfriend, Mark, and I weren’t the only ones keeping this secret. But I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep the pregnancy. I just wanted some reassurance to know that she wouldn’t be disappointed in me or I didn’t feel like I was going to be a burden to my family if I were to go through with it. My mom has always been supportive of anything I chose in life, but I knew this was going to be pushing it a bit. I initially told her I was going to make an appointment to get an abortion and I would schedule it sometime later that week. 

I vividly remember calling the Kaiser advice line to schedule my appointment and asked them if I could decide whether or not to go through with the abortion the day of the appointment. They straight up told me that I needed to know before scheduling the appointment so I ended up freaking out and told them I would call them back. I called Mark after and cried, telling him I didn’t know what to do. I gave him the run around about making the appointment because I felt in my heart that I didn’t want to give this pregnancy up. It wasn’t like I was a teenager anymore, I had just graduated college and I felt like I was ready for my next steps in life. After talking to Mark about our options, he saw that I really wanted to keep the pregnancy and after days of  going back and forth I finally made my first prenatal appointment. This would be the start of realizing that no matter how much you plan for things, life will always find a way to challenge you. 

Having a pandemic pregnancy was one of the loneliest experiences I ever been through. I was estimated to be due on January 12, 2021 so I was pregnant right when the pandemic started. I didn’t get to see my family and friends that often while I was pregnant so I felt like I couldn’t celebrate the happiness with my loved ones. Fortunately, I was still able to work but I would just work and go home and do it all over again. At times it did get a little lonely so I enjoyed going to work for socialization.

 Although, I didn’t mind staying home and enjoying my own space especially since COVID was at its peak. I wasn’t allowed to bring my boyfriend during my appointments or to ultrasounds, so it felt like I was doing everything by myself. On top of that, I wasn’t able to go to any lamaze classes, so I was super unprepared for birth. I had to resort to asking my sister in-law, Jayna, for advice and look at pregnancy posts from Instagram and TikTok. But even with all those resources nothing would mentally and physically prepare me for having a baby.

During my research, I knew having a premature baby was a possibility, but I never thought it would happen to me. I would workout and stay active, drink water, and take my prenatal vitamins religiously. I felt like I was doing everything right and I thought I was having a somewhat healthy pregnancy so far. It wasn’t until I was at work and I started getting cramps throughout my 10 hour shift. I had a lot of back pain throughout my pregnancy so I didn’t think much of it. I thought about just going home early from work but me being the stubborn person I am, I ended up staying the whole time.

On my drive home after getting off, I remember wincing in pain and taking deep breaths while trying to stay composed because the pain was getting unbearable. I called the advice nurse and they told me if it gets worse I should call back and they might have to admit me into the emergency to see what was going on. I had the hardest time falling asleep that night. I was constantly tossing and turning until around 2 in the morning. I couldn’t take the pain anymore and Mark made me call the labor and delivery nurse to see what I should do next. They told me it sounds like I could be having contractions and to go there right away.

Me and Mark went to the ER unprepared, coming only with our keys, wallet, and water bottles in hand. The nurse who checked us in laughed as we came empty handed while the family ahead of us brought overnight bags and a car seat. She said, “Wow you guys packed light.” We laughed nervously realizing that it did not occur to us at all that I could have a baby within the next couple of days since I wasn’t due for another 2 months. As the doctor came in to check me she said I was 1 cm dilated and that I was lucky I came in when I did or I would have been further dilated. I found out I was in preterm labor. They gave me medication to slow down the contractions and a steroid injection so my baby’s lungs could mature faster in the womb before being born and if they were effective I could potentially go home. 

A Doctor came in and talked to me about the possibility of having a premature baby and how a baby born at 32 weeks would definitely need to stay in the NICU at least until they reach full gestation which is around 40 weeks. I just remember bawling my eyes out because I was so sad to have to leave my baby in the hospital and I wouldn’t be able to take him home. Mark reassured me he would be in good hands but I was so crushed at the thought of not being with my baby for such a long time.

After my first dose of medications the contractions decreased and I could finally sleep comfortably for at least a couple of hours. The next morning I felt a lot better, my contractions slowed down and the doctor said I could be monitored and transferred to the neonatal floor and eventually be discharged to go home. I was so happy because it meant that my baby’s birth would be delayed by at least a couple days if not hours. A couple days didn’t seem like much but when your baby is born premature every second spent in the womb is crucial, as told to me by the Doctor. Hours passed and I was exhausted by being checked on by the nurses and doctors every 2 hours, but everytime they came in I was feeling much better in hopes that I could finally go home.

 It wasn’t until I started getting contractions again and I was further dilated at 3-4cm. That’s when everything started to speed back up again. After they saw how dilated I was, the nurse told me I needed to be transferred back to the labor and delivery floor. I remember feeling contractions more often than before. I remember her talking to me and saying, “It looks like you’re going to have this baby today,” and I was so scared for what was to happen next. I was in so much pain that I was like “Okay, whatever, how can I make him come out faster?” But the thing that stuck with me was when the Doctor came in to talk to me prior to giving birth and told me,”It’s not your fault.” I didn’t get that until later. There’s a lot of guilt that comes when having a premature baby. I felt like my body failed me. I felt like I wish I could have done something different, I wasn’t sure what that was but it broke me knowing that I couldn’t keep my baby inside me long enough for him to be healthy.

I was so mentally and physically exhausted that all I really wanted was to fall asleep but the contractions were getting closer and closer to each other that I knew for a fact this baby was coming soon. I kept asking for pain medications but they had given them to me so often that they were starting to wear off quicker and quicker to the point where the nurses told me there was nothing else they could give besides doing an epidural. I was too scared to do an epidural because of all the horror stories I’ve heard before of people getting paralyzed after giving birth because of it, so I refused it. The nurses respected my wishes and tried to make me as comfortable as possible. At some point I was having such bad contractions that I couldn’t even call the nurse for help because the pain was that bad. 

Things started to speed up a bit and the Doctor informed me that they were going to prep the delivery room for me. I constantly nodded my head in response to everything because I couldn’t really think straight but I wanted them to know I was aware of what was going on. I remember being wheeled in the delivery room and there were so many nurses surrounding me and it looked like there was a lot going on. Once I reached about 6-7cm the doctor decided that I could either wait for my water to break or they could break it themselves to speed up the process. I told them to pop it so I could get it over with because I couldn’t take the pain anymore. Once my water was broken, I pushed for a couple of minutes but nothing was happening. 

The doctor said that he didn’t like what the baby’s heartbeat was looking like and if I didn’t push him out soon they would have to intervene. To be completely honest, I was so out of it that I don’t even remember what was happening. All I knew was that if I didn’t push this baby out they would have to intervene and in the moment I absolutely did not want to get a C-section, so I started to push as hard as I could. The other doctor then coached me while in labor to push my baby out by holding my breath for 10 seconds while I was having a contraction. I did just that and then about 15 mins or so later my baby was finally born. 

Later I learned that that was the most incorrect way to push a baby out. You’re not supposed to hold your breath, you’re supposed to breathe through it and let it come out naturally but they were so pressed on getting him out that I didn’t really have a choice. I pushed so hard that my eyes were bloodshot and I got freckles on my face from breaking so many blood vessels. The bloodshot in my eyes didn’t go away for weeks. I looked so scary.

All I could really remember was saying “HI BABY” a hundred times and trying to rub all of the white stuff over his body because I heard that it was good for their skin. Then he was whisked away and went off to get weighed and measured then went straight to the NICU. After giving birth and getting a second for me and my baby to get settled the nurses mentioned to me that we could go visit him but this would be the only time we could see him together because of COVID. After that only one parent was able to visit per day. 

At the moment I actually liked the fact that there were COVID restrictions and not that many people could come in because I felt like this was such an intimate moment. I wouldn’t want so many people in my delivery room while I was giving birth so I wasn’t really upset. It was after my birth experience that I wished my mom was there with me. She would know how to calm me down and check on me while I was having contractions and overall she would just know what to do. Mark barely knew what to do when it came down to it because we just were not mentally prepared for this early birth and on top of that he was sick so he wasn’t even in the right headspace himself. 

We walked down to the NICU and saw him in his incubator with all the wires and mini cpap over him and his little IV line attached to his arm. We weren’t able to carry him because his oxygen levels were low at the time so we stuck our hands inside to hold him. When I saw Jojo in the incubator for the first time it truly felt unreal. I was fine seeing him attached to all the machines because I knew that those were helping him thrive outside the womb but I was so sad that I couldn’t hold him that first time and actually get to see what he looked like. Mark took pictures shortly after he was born during his weight check so I would just stare at those for hours so I could just imagine what he looked like. I just couldn’t believe how small he really was. He was so tiny at 3 lbs. 

It was so unbelievable what just happened. I went back down a couple hours later while Mark rested during his touch times where the nurses check his vitals and I finally got to hold him in my arms since giving birth. I would soon find out that that would be one of the last times I would get to see him in person. They laid him on my chest and I couldn’t believe he was mine.

After coming back in the room, I later found out that Mark was coming down with a headache and wasn’t feeling well. He let the nurses know and they suggested that he leave and get tested for COVID just in case. After he left I was alone in my room until the next morning. I couldn’t have visitors due to COVID, so once again I was alone. I couldn’t even go to see my baby because I was at risk of having COVID, so I just stayed in my room until I was able to be discharged the next day. About a day after arriving home, I noticed I was starting to have a cough. At this point Mark had come back positive for COVID so I knew for sure I had it too. 

I let the doctors know at the NICU our situation and they said it’s best for us not to come in until we’ve had our 2 weeks of quarantine. I was crushed. I was so angry at Mark for giving me COVID, but I knew there was nothing I could do at that point. The NICU nurses allowed me to FaceTime Jojo everyday for two weeks until I could actually see him in person. It felt surreal to me that I just had a baby because I was finally home, but it was just me there. On top of that, Mark couldn’t be with me either because we were both in quarantine. It seemed like the loneliness never stopped. I was also worried that my baby wouldn’t know who I was because the first days after birth were so crucial for bonding that I was feeling so shitty at the fact that I couldn’t be there. Nonetheless, I continued to keep myself fed and hydrated so that when the time came, I would be healthy enough to see my son. 

Pumping in general was never a challenge for me. I always heard of people having a hard time pumping and producing milk but that was never the case for me. My only concern was that because I had COVID, I didn’t know if it was still safe for me to give my milk to my baby. The Doctor’s told me it was actually beneficial and I should be giving it to him not only for the health benefits it has but so it could potentially provide antibodies from the COVID virus. I didn’t think much of that until I noticed that my milk was turning green. At first I thought that my milk was getting spoiled but I wasn’t sure why it would be spoiled if I was handling it properly. Then I saw a post on Instagram talking about how breast milk turns colors when moms get sick and provides antibodies for your baby. I was in such awe about how amazing mothers’ bodies are and how our bodies were made to sustain a baby’s life. 

At last my two week quarantine was up and I would finally be able to hold my baby again for the first time in 2 weeks. I was so happy to see him after only seeing him through a screen. He was so plump and had so much more hair than I remembered. He was growing so fast and I remember him always smiling when we FaceTimed, but I cried the first time I got to see it in person. I knew there were so many angels surrounding him in the NICU that would keep him safe and looked after him while I couldn’t be there with him. I hated leaving him so I would stay there without eating just so I could be with him all day. Leaving Jojo was the hardest, but I knew the day would come when I could finally bring him home. 

Throughout those two weeks I got to see him, he was doing so well. The nurses said Jojo was their favorite because he was such a good and well mannered baby. I’m sure they said that to all the moms, but it made me so happy to know that he was doing so well without me there. One of the qualifications for them to be a NICU graduate was that they had to maintain their weight and hit at least 5 lbs. Everyday he grew so strong, he ate so well, and eventually he didn’t have to eat through his NG tube. Everyday was a celebration and every milestone hit from then on out was exciting. When Jojo was hitting all his milestones I felt like we were always just one step closer to him coming home. I wanted him to come home before Christmas so he wouldn’t have to celebrate another holiday in the NICU. I was so excited when I saw that he was gaining weight everyday and he finally got his NG tube out. All these little things could be checked off the box and he would eventually be a NICU graduate.

The day Mark and I finally got to bring him home, we were so nervous but ready to start this new chapter of our lives. Once our baby was in the stroller and we were on our way to our car we looked at each other and said, “Now what?” 

It wasn’t until we walked out the hospital with him that day that he got discharged that it finally hit me. I felt like I was on my own now and there were no nurses to help me. I was really on my own and all the knowledge I got from the NICU nurses I would actually have to apply and eventually teach Mark how to do the same. I developed PTSD from hearing the machines go off and I was more paranoid than ever knowing that now as he was coming home, there was no way I could tell that he was breathing on his own other than physically looking at him and seeing his chest move up and down. Now that we’re past that and he’s sturdy and is doing things an almost 1 year old should do, it hits me every once in a while that he’s a whole human being and I have to take care of him everyday for the rest of my life.” -Cambria

Father’s Day 2020

To this day, my parents still laugh and tell the stories of me in preschool. I was a half day kid, so I was only in preschool for a couple of hours. The preschool was in a center, and a lot of the parents, my dad included, would just chill on the sidelines near the exit and talk amongst each other until it was time to go home. I was 4, and I remember always taking glances to where the parents were because I always wanted to keep an eye out for my dad. I wanted to make sure he was always there, that I wasn’t alone. I could be having a lot of fun playing with friends or be distracted by toys, but the moment my dad wasn’t in view I would lose it.

My dad always describes the same events. How he would always see me trying to look for him. He remembers me always turning around to see if he was still there, and how I would cry when I couldn’t find him. One time he had to use the bathroom, so he went up to me and told me he’d be right back. He had to explain to me where he was going and for how long since every move he made I cried because I thought he was leaving. He told me over and over again that he was just going to the bathroom and he’d return shortly. According to my dad I agreed and went about playing.

“Not even one minute later,” my dad exaggerates, “I open the door, and you’re standing there crying!”

My parents tell the stories of me as a clingy preschool kid all the time. And how after preschool my dad would be holding my little sister in the carseat in one hand, and me clinging onto his leg on the other side as he dropped us off to my grandma’s house, “Mama’s House,” so he could go to work. These are vague memories that I remember, but for my dad, that time he was in the thick of being a dad to 3 young girls, 2 of which were under the age of 5.

Growing up my mom would always tell me and my sisters, “See! You should be grateful for your dad!” I didn’t really grasp that phrase completely until I grew up. Because as a kid, growing up with my dad, who off the bat, did everything and anything for our family, I thought nothing of it. It’s all we ever knew. But as I got older, I realized how good I actually have it. I realized that a lot of people don’t have a dad like mine.

In my family, we all have a short temper with each other. But at the end of the day we all got each other. That’s what my parents taught us, and my dad has shown us that time and time again. It doesn’t matter what happens or what was said, I know my dad would do anything for any of us in a heart beat. I think my dad’s one hell of a guy. And I’m not just saying that because he’s my dad.

He has been the example of what a man should be like. Not only as a man, but as a father as well. When I tell you my sisters and I are spoiled, I mean that shit and it’s high key embarrassing. Not in monetary value, but with acts of service. In my household, we don’t know how to be affectionate towards one another without making it a joke. It’s actually something we need to work on. But our love translates by how loyal we are when shit hits the fan, acts of service, and food. That’s how we show our love.

My mom always told us to choose the right guy, “like your dad.” Growing up we were like “EwWwWwW” because the thought of your significant other being like your parent is fuckin weird. But now, I look at my man and see the resemblance in his character. He reminds me of my dad. And that’s how I know I’m headed towards the right path. My dad has spoiled my sisters and I, that we have certain standards when looking for a partner. We’re not going to settle for a halfass kind of dude when our dad has set the bar of acts of service and loyalty to my mom and my sisters so high from the get. He’s always been by my mom’s side and has been there for our family through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Never budging, never running away from problems, never making excuses, but facing every problem head on. And being present for everything.

Growing up, my mom was the tough one and whatever she says goes. Period. But we would always sway our dad to try to change her mind. And if it was a hard “no,” from mom, it was most likely a “ugh. Ok ok” from dad. Whether that be “can we go to the mall?” “Can I change the channel?” “Can you drop me to my friends house?” “Can we get boba, I’ll pay!”

My dad is the most selfless, loyal, honest, and generous person I know. Even if he doesn’t have much for himself, he’ll still try to give to someone if he knows that they have it worse than him. When we would be waiting in the car for one of my sister’s at BART, he’ll literally get out of the car to give a homeless person some crackers. He’s just that kind of dude. He’s not rich, but he’ll give someone the last of his cash in his wallet.

I’d like to think that that’s where I get my empathetic ways from. My dad. I’m always trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I’m always trying to fight for what’s right, to stand up for those who need help. He’s taught me to care. And not just care for the people I know. A lot of people are taught to just look out for themselves. But my dad is the opposite. He puts others before himself sometimes, all the while looking out for his family and those around him. But at the same time, teaching us to look between the lines and look past some people’s alternate motives.

Every Father’s Day we ask my dad what he wants for a gift. “Nothing.” Is his response every year my whole life. You know when someone says “nothing” but you know they’re lowkey expecting something? Yeah. That ain’t the case. When my dad says “nothing” he legit means don’t get him anything. But of course we still get him gifts.

To our driver, social justice warrior, unproblematic, Prince-loving-mother-trucker, “despacito” singing, “K” replying father – Happy Father’s Day! We appreciate and love you, and we can’t imagine this life without you! Cue in the ugly faces and “ya ya ya okkkkk” since we all can’t show proper affection 🥴💘.

Not Go-Go-ing Anywhere Just Yet

 

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Alex “Lex” Hui has been in a few dangerous situations while working as a Go-go dancer in The Castro. He has been chased by a stalker after a nightclub event, and had to escape by climbing a fence that resulted in cuts all over his body. But what is Hui most afraid of?

Aging. Hui has been professionally dancing since he was 18, and will be 40 this summer. Hui loves his job as a Go-go dancer because it keeps him feeling young, healthy, and alive. With his birthday nearing, Hui is dreading the thought of being another year older.

“At the party store I came across the 40 decorations,” Hui said. “I couldn’t even touch it. I don’t want to accept it.”

Hui has been dancing for over 20 years and has thought about retiring his dancing shoes a couple of times. But he is hesitant to give up the job that has made him the person that he is today. For it was dancing that made Hui come to terms with who he really is, and started to live his life according to his truest self.

With his petite stature, standing at about 5’5, Hui is always noticeable in a crowd because of his “I’m here!” attitude. His black hair is combed over to the left side, and he is almost always wearing form fitting clothing that shows off his arm and leg muscles that he works so hard for.

Growing up, Hui was confused about his sexuality. Though it is hard to believe now, since he is such a friendly, talkative, and bubbly person, Hui was once a shy person who kept to himself. He was unsure as to who he was, and wanted to be like his male buddies. At the same time knew he felt different than them.

Hui’s family on the other hand knew all his life that he is gay. It was kept hush hush, but everyone was aware. In fact, Hui never officially “came out” to his family.

When he was 18, Hui felt more comfortable and started going to gay nightclubs. He was approached by the club manager, who told him that he would be perfect for a dancing job. And that was how Hui got introduced to dancing at nightclubs, bars, and events.

At first Hui tried to keep dancing a secret from his parents, but they turned out to be very supportive of his new career. Around the age of 21, it was no longer a question whether Hui was gay. His mother, Cossette Hui, is his number one supporter.

“Dancing is an art,” Cossette said. “I’ve always been proud of him. When he’s on the float during the gay parade, I’m so proud and always say, ‘That’s my son.’”

Cossette has always supported whatever made her son happy. According to her, she knew Hui was for a long time, even before he came out. She caught school kids making fun of her son, calling him derogatory names, and she would confront the kids and stick up for her boy.

Hui’s mother knows the dangers that can come with her son’s job, like being followed, having stalkers, and possibly being assaulted at any moment on stage, so she is very protective of him. She sleeps earlier in the day so that she will be awake just in time to sit in the living room and wait for her son to come back home after each night of dancing. She likes that he decided to come back home to the Bay Area.

When Hui was younger, dancing brought him to various places outside of The Castro. The most interesting place he worked in was Las Vegas’ Chippendales from 2002 to 2004. Hui worked as a host and dreamed to be one of the performers, however his height prevented him from accomplishing that.

It was the same problem when Hui tried to pursue modeling. He started modeling at the age of 12 at shopping mall fashion shows. He made the cover of Playgirl magazine in 2002, and wanted to be a high end fashion model. Managers told him, “We wish we could stretch you!”

So when modeling fell through and Hui gave up the dreams of walking on runways abroad, dancing professionally brought Hui back to the Bay Area from Los Angeles. Even though he’s been in the dancing industry for a long time, he still gets butterflies right before performing. His favorite event to dance in is the Pride Parade, because it is usually for a cause like AIDS, and he likes to show his support and help raise money.

Friends know Hui more for what he does off the stage than on the stage. Dancing keeps Hui young and aware of his figure, so he is always working out and staying active. His friend, Max McDaniel, knows that dancing is the perfect profession for Hui because he has the right type of energy for the job.

“When Lex walks into a room, you know he’s there,” McDaniel said. “His energy is high, he’s always involved, and working as hard as anyone I know.”

Dancing is a competitive line of work, and Hui is concerned about the younger crowd of new dancers. They compete for hours and the attention of the audience, and Hui doesn’t know if he should give it up and let the younger dancers have their moment.

Still, something in Hui wants to keep going. He has spent a couple thousand dollars over the years on all his outfits. From leather shorts to sporty revealing tops and bottoms, Hui has an outfit for every themed event.  He enjoys the thrill of dressing up and being the center of attention, keeping the crowd going, and living the bachelor life.

Dancing made Hui realize who he is, and it acted as an outlet for him to express himself. He knows he eventually has to give up dancing, and is now trying to embrace his age and where dancing has brought him in life.

“Until someone says, ‘Who wants to see that old Go-go dancer in that box?!’ is when I’m going to give it up,” Hui laughed.

“I made room for this love, how foolish me,” -Wale

Here on LoveYourzStory, I don’t only feature people’s love stories with happy endings. Life isn’t always a breeze where you find the love of your life on the first try. There is always going to be heart break and stories that people would rather not tell.

Luckily, Ulysses was open to sharing. He has been cheated on in 3 relationships and just can’t seem to catch on to the lies. Unfortunately, these experiences has molded him to not care about females anymore because he fears he will just get hurt.

One thing that bothers him is giving his loyalty and trust to someone who will just betray him in the end. So he doesn’t even give anyone the benefit of the doubt because he doesn’t want to waste his time.

“When I date a girl I give them all my time my energy and effort and dedication so that each time I get cheated on it just kills me,” Ulysses said. “And after a few I just can’t give anyone that much of my time because I am scared to get screwed over again… I feel if I’m going to be in a relationship they deserve all my time and love but that’s hard to do now when I’m being screwed over multiple times.”

To avoid getting hurt, Ulysses just hooks up with random girls and kicks them to the curb in the morning. He is okay with this type of living for now because he got out of a relationship over a year ago, so he’s just enjoying the single life.

Until the right girl comes along who deserves his time and loyalty, Ulysses is chillin’ and living up the bachelor’s life. And there isn’t anything wrong with that. Different situations make people switch up. He could be wallowing in his sadness, but instead he chooses to live his life. He’s not looking for anyone to complete him or fix him, he’s just doing Ulysses.

Cheering Them On

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Abdallah first met Gabriella on the SFSU cheer team. At first, Abdallah was interested in someone else who encouraged him to join the team. However, things kicked off for Abdallah and Gabriella 2 months later where they went to a cheerleading competition in LA and had to share a bed. On the car ride home, they sat next to each other and talked the whole way through. When they got back to San Francisco Abdallah asked if he could take her on an official date. The rest is pretty much history.

Abdallah is Filipino and Egyptian, so his father is strongly against him dating Gabriella because their religion. But Gabriella’s family is accepting of Abdallah. Her mom adores him.It was hard for Gabriella because she at least wanted his father to meet her first and then make judgement from there, but he is against the whole relationship.

While living at home, Abdallah was tired of having to be home by a certain time because of his parents’ strict rules. He told his father face to face that he was dating Gabriella, and his dad was not having it.
“So we were both taking about moving out, but not with one another,” Abdallah said. “By now we’ve been dating for a year or more. We both had our own group of people we were going to move in with but both our plans just started to fall out. Before we knew it we were the only 2 people and ended up moving in together.”

Telling his parents was not easy. His dad was furious that he was moving out, and on top of that with the girlfriend that did not share the same religion as them. His dad refused to talk to him or a few weeks, and Abdallah didn’t want to talk to him either because his dad wasn’t calm.

It has been a few months since he has moved out and his relationship with his dad has gotten better. His dad wants him to move back home, but Abdallah is on the fence because he wants to save money if he were to move back home, but the couple both feel like it would be a step back from all the progress they accomplished already.

Abdallah and Gabriella are both totally in love with each other. So whatever happens with the living situation, they are confident they will make it work.

When I asked Abdallah what he would do if his parents never accepts the relationship and are not supportive in the future if they want to get married he said, “If I want to marry her, I’m gonna marry her.”

The Skateboard

Alex Bautista and Mark Navarro have been dating since the 8th grade! They have literally grown up with each other and hit milestones in life together.

Mark enjoys skating, and it has been his hobby for a while. He was even skating in the 8th grade when he met Alex. She really liked that he could skate and they hit it off from there.

Fast forward almost 6 years later and they both have grown so much since the first time they met each other, that they look back and reminisce on how skating really helped their relationship.

“We obviously didn’t drive back then, so he would skate to my house to come see me,” Alex said.

When she said that Mark laughed, “Yeah on that big hill!”

Without his skateboard Mark would have to travel great distances to make it to Alex’s house ( which by the way is in a gated community that sits on the steepest hill of all!). They attended different high schools and Alex remembers how Mark would skate to her house and be there by the time she got home. That’s pretty hard for a couple of teenagers that are trying t maintain a relationship with no means of transportation.

They both plan to move to San Jose together next fall where Alex will be attending SJSU and Mark will be attending a nearby community college. They are excited to finally get their own little place together and be more independent.

Mark works a lot now a days and doesn’t skate as often as he used to. But they like to look back at how far they have come along and it wouldn’t be possible without Mark’s skateboard.

 

The Workout

Chris Barous is a Skyline student that frequently works out at the gym. His love for fitness originated after the break up with his long time girlfriend.

After Chris’s deployment in the Army, he moved to the Bay Area to be with his girlfriend. He left everything he knew in Florida, the place where he grew up. Chris told me that he didn’t know anyone else in the Bay Area besides his girlfriend, who then turned into his ex girlfriend.

Chris thought the gym would be a great outlet to let out all of his stress and get his mind off of the break up. He thought the first step would be to work on his appearance, to build his self confidence again.

Working out not only makes him feel good health wise, but also on the outside. He stays and works out at the gym on average from 1-2 hours everyday.

One word of advice that Chris had to offer me was: “Don’t move anywhere for anyone. Make sure it’s for you and not just for the other person. Don’t make the same mistake I did.”