When I was 16, I went on a date with a guy I had a huge crush on.
One look at this kid and you knew that boy had a mind and a plan for his life.
We were born a day apart. His birthday was the day before mine and he was a year ahead of me in school. He was the only Chinese kid in my not so culturally diverse town and I had the hots for him.
Even then, at 16, liking a Chinese kid, people thought I was strange.
All my girlfriends at school would ask me, “So what’s it like to kiss a Chinese?”
As if the curvature of his eyes and his coarse jet black hair should make him taste different.
It was normal, for God’s sake.
Back then, I read Seventeen magazine (like all girls did) and as I prepared for our first date, I glossed over Seventeen’s list of what not to bring up on the first date: politics or religious beliefs.
Our town didn’t have a movie theater and to impress me he took me 30 minutes away to Palm Springs. Palm Springs had better restaurants and movie theaters.
In the car, he told me my hair smelled nice and I thought that was such a funny awkward thing to say. I was so nervous I let him lead the conversation, which went from casual chatter to a full blow interrogation, by him, into the nature of my mind and thinking. He wanted to know if I was marriage material before we even got to dinner, for this kid was not going to waste his time on some dumb ass girl without a clue.
He was that sure of himself and his confidence boiled my blood.
Before I knew it we were on the topic of gay rights.
Living in an mostly white, not so evolved town, I didn’t know how I felt about gay rights. I had never thought about it and my lack of thought around it forced him to ask me a question that forever altered my life: “Why do you believe what you believe?”
As I sat there, dying to impress this guy that was infinitely smarter than me at that stage of my life, I turned to him and honestly said, “I don’t know what I believe.” But in the back of my mind I realized that a lot of what I believed as 16 year old girl was what my parents believed, and I think he knew it.
Before we got out of the car to head to dinner he stopped me and told me, “You have to learn to think for yourself. You cannot allow other’s ideas to influence you. You have to know what is true in your own heart if you are ever going to succeed in this world.”
This, all from a 16 year old boy.
I felt insecure and stupid, and wanted to crumble. When you really like someone and you are not at their level and they are reflecting an area where you need to evolve it makes you feel like dirt. It’s so easy to feel so bad about yourself.
But when this kid pushed me, beyond my comfortability, beyond my insecurity, I knew he was offering me a chance. Even though he was calling me out, he was actually telling me: YOU ARE MORE THAN YOU KNOW, don’t let yourself be duped by narrow minded thinkers.
My parents were narrow minded thinkers.
I could have stopped at feeling like a moron and allowed my insecurities to crush me. I could have caved, cause I was way out of my league with this guy whose mind was more advanced than the average kid, but something greater than me knew I was attracted to him for a reason. He reflected a part of me that lied dormant, and I could either cower in the face of looking like a moron (which so many people do, the stop at feeling sorry for themselves) or I could challenge myself to evolve and open my mind.
I chose the latter.
What that boy awoke in me was an earnest desire to know myself and to understand why I believed what I believed. He made me realize I had a purpose in this life. At 16, my date turned into my first love and long term boyfriend. He new exactly where he was going in life. He was on his way to med school. He thought about everything: his life, purpose, and what he wanted to do and make of himself.
Fast forward several years and I wind up in San Francisco, one of the most open minded, progressive cities in America.
Living in San Francisco blew my mind open.
There is no place for fear of: sexuality, gender, race, politics, expression, and rights in SF.
For the longest time, surrounded by radically open minded people I began to think the whole world had gotten the memo: it’s okay to be transgender and show up at a club wearing a pink vinyl jumpsuits with fake tits bursting out. It’s okay on Gay Pride to bring your lover into the most chic restaurant in town on a leash. It’s okay to wear assless chaps outside of Badlands (a gay bar in SF) and go home with who ever you are so inclined to. It’s okay to have multiple lovers, partners, to share love with guys, girls, whatever you feel like and it is most certainly fabulous if you are gay, fly the freak flag, love to dance, and let loose even if by day you run a dot. com and are a shrewd business tycoon.
It’s okay to be.
And though not everything in SF boils down to sex, what it does boil down to is ultimate freedom of expression— sex being a huge aspect of what drives human desire and existence.
Leaving SF has been challenging for someone like me who’s mind vibrates on a different frequency.
Not all of the world accepts the freak in us. Not all of the world wants everyone to fully express or be free, or leave the confines of what they know and push boundaries.
A lot of the world wants to stay institutionalized and bound by their narrow view of life.
I do not choose to live in the confines that lead most people to comfortability in life and I am both judged and desired for it. I think you can love more than one person at once. I don’t believe that monogamy is the only way for everyone or that if you choose something different for your life you are a phony person because you don’t subscribe to everyone else’s philosophy. I don’t believe there is one way for everyone.
Every person on this planet has the right to choose what is the right way to live for them and if you meet someone that clashes with how you choose to live, cause it is threatening to them, don’t own their trip. Just walk away.
If you choose to have beliefs and opinions about reality that are oppressive to others who do not agree and do not believe what you believe— it’s cool for you, if you want to stay in your narrow minded world, but don’t persecute the rest of us.
I am not a narrow minded person. I am open and I accept people’s truths, whatever they are. I choose to live in what is true, not was is institutionalized or characterized by someone else’s limiting beliefs, because I want to live in real reality not some fantasy that doesn’t truly exist.
P.S. To that boy, who is now a man, that changed my life and opened my heart to love, thank you for challenging me and ripping me out of that narrow minded slumber. Thank you for staying 6.5 years with me. Thank you for loving me and believing in my potential even though you didn’t know if I would evolve. You changed my life and till this day you have had more influence upon me than just about anyone. I will always love you.