A Reflection of My Life after living in Uganda as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

PRIDE Weekend

San Francisco is famous for many things: free love in the 60’s, the Golden Gate Bridge, Trolley cars, Google, etc. San Francisco is also known for homosexuals. Every summer, San Francisco has PRIDE weekend where various activities are arranged around the city and a parade marches down Market Street on Sunday. This weekend is a time for all lifestyles to come together and show their pride in who they are.

This past weekend was PRIDE weekend. I had heard the PRIDE parade was an outrageous display of human sexuality. I was warned people would be naked, acting flamboyant and engaging in sexual activities on the street. This event was rumored to bring out the far extremes: everything from very showy homosexuals to the extremely conservative Christians who say things like, “god hates gays”.

I was curious as to what the PRIDE parade would actually look like. My friend Maggie and I decided to go and see what it was all about. What I discovered was far more beautiful than anything I had heard it would possibly be. The PRIDE parade was a display of a community who supported one another regardless of the life choice each member has chosen.

One particularly touching moment for me was when the San Francisco police department marched down the street. They came wearing their crisp black dress uniforms holding hands with each other. There were both heterosexual families marching and homosexual families. They all held hands together. I got goose bumps and teared-up at this display of acceptance and love. When I think of the police I tend to fall into the stereotypes of believing they are all a bunch of macho men who harass anything that is different than themselves. So this open display of pride and support was truly beautiful.

San Francisco is ever teaching me what peace, love and community are.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Late 20's

This past week I hit my late 20's. When I left for the Peace Corps my friend Jenelle and I couldn't believe I would come back and enter my late 20's. It seemed so old at the time. Now, I am here, and I feel so young. Maybe it's this gypsy life I continue to live. Maybe it's all the good friends I have. Maybe it's the fact that your 20's really are still young. Whatever it may be, I am happy to be in another year of life. May this one be as full of growth as the last.

I had the opportunity to house-sit this weekend and used having a nice loft to host a dinner party to celebrate my birthday. With new and old friends, we ate some of my favorite foods (enchiladas!) and Jenelle made gluten-free chocolate cupcakes. We had a contest for best decorated. Granted, we had little supplies and I am not all that creative with cake/cupcake decorating but I thought mine was simple and nice.

I got upstaged by Maggie who just had to draw the Golden Gate Bridge and write The City, as San Francisco is referred to, across her cupcake.

Thank you to all my friends and family who made me feel so loved on my birthday. The calls, e-mails, cards, flowers, balloons, happy birthday songs at work, lunch dates, toasts at my party and general attendance in my life is so very much appreciated by me. I love you all!

College friends! We didn't all intend to wear pink, we just all showed up this way.
Caitlin, me and Jenelle
Some good friends at my birthday party:)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


*To all my Denver friends who are coming out of the wood-work: I'm so sorry I didn't know you were all there! I'm in San Francisco now but if I come through Denver again I will let you know. Thanks for wanting to get together:)

How do you become part of a new community? Especially one that you are not sure how long you will be apart of? I want to be an active member of a community. There is belonging and accountability involved when you contribute yourself to a community.

I have given this summer serious thought. I have a job to do but I also have a life I want to live. I want to make the most of my time in San Francisco and become a part of the city in whatever small way I can. I have decided to do everything as close to a local level as I can. I only eat at local restaurants (no chains), shop at local farmer's markets, use as much public transportation as I can and follow some of the local norms like composting and recycling. This way I support the local economy, act as a socially responsibly global citizen and get to know a city from a different perspective.

Another way I am trying to gain community is by joining the YMCA. Every time I go in, Christina who works at the front desk, greets me by name. She is the one who took me on a tour of the facilities first and signed me up. She asked me about my job, compliments the bright yellow sweeter I wear and asks how the yoga class I've been taking is going. She has become a familiar face in my new routine and one I genuinely am excited to see. On the days she isn't working I feel like something is missing from my Y experience.

I'm also starting to recognize and be recognized by other women in the locker room. There is a friendly banter in there I wasn't expecting. These women know each other and conversations fly around me in other languages. The other day I left my earrings in a locker. I realized this once I got home and as the earrings were from Uganda and special to me I ran back to the Y hoping to find them. I prayed the whole way they would still be there. I found an older Chinese woman standing in front of the locker putting her things inside. I explained that I had left my earrings in there. She then opened her palm and my earrings were in her hand. She told me she knew someone precious would come back for them. I thanked her for taking care of them for me and she proceeded to offer a blessing to me. It was a beautiful moment. I was touched by her sweet spirit and friendly gesture of giving me a blessing. Those are the moments that make me yearn for community. Feeling loved by a stranger is a powerful feeling. I hope I can also offer that love to others.

I continue to create a life for myself in this new city. I smile to others as I walk down the street, I start up conversation with the person riding next to me on the MUNI and I explore neighborhoods in the hope that all the peace and love I believe in will be felt by others and greater community will be built.