I have always loved my elders, and have relished the time I spend with them. It’s largely due to the lack of grandparents in my life, and my general interest in grown folk things. I remember as a little girl I used to fantacize about having an older womyn take me in and teach me the truths of the world; traditions to pass on to other womyn; and all the wisdom of her lived experiences and mistakes. This drove me to befriend the old womyn, who lived next door to me growing up. The experience wasn’t quite as romantic as I envisioned. But we did have a lot of tea dates, where she showed me pictures of her beloved cat Maxine.
As a radical I feel it is absolutely necessary to connect with militants from generations before us, as well as build a multigenerational political struggle. This helps us folks in the younger generation place ourselves in history through learning from our elders, who have been a part of historical movements in the past. But with all the wisdom and experience that our elders bring, they also sometimes bring an attachment to old ideas that must be left in the past. As we learn from struggles, past and present, we must craft new revolutionary theory and organization. A huge lesson that I have taken from struggles in the past is the importance of rooting ‘domination’ out of our organizations and the oppressed in general. That means our revolutionary movement must value feminist and anti-racist principles, and see issues surrounding ‘identity’, such as gender, race, sexuality, age, ect., as organically connected to class position. The elder marxist males I have been exposed to have a tendency to hold onto some class reductionist ideals that were so characteristic of revolutionary movements from the past. Marxists historically have not acknowledged difference within the class, and have not been scientific enough in their theoretical explorations of oppression and exploitation within our societies. The different lived experience of women, people of color, queers and immigrants have often been left out of the analysis. However, there has been a lot of effort made by different tendencies and individuals, who seek to advance marxism by updating its content. I still notice that feminism and issues of gender and sexuality still seems to be hard for some of our elder males to absorb.
One elder in particular I am very close to. His opinions, comradeship, and support matters deeply to me. It is important for me to have healthy relationships with older men, because I have had very few. I was raised by my mother and when my father was around he wasn’t always ‘present.’ A crack addiction left him high, unpredictable, and an abusive terror to my mother. Yet, as a young womyn I wanted so bad to believe in him. I saw his potential and talents and I wanted him to make better decisions for himself and us. I also wanted his love and respect. None of these things ended up happening the way I dreamed, and it has been seven years since we have spoken. This is why the relationship I have with this particular elder means a great deal to me; I want to continue to learn from him, and be committed to working within a multigender and multigenerational movement.
That said, this revolutionary’s consciousness is still effected by the problems of generations past when it comes to gender. As a black worker he understands the intersections of race and class well. But his clarity of these issues does not carry over when it comes to intersections of gender, race and class. He still sees feminism and marxism as contradictory, and issues of domestic violence, rape, and regulation of sexuality as personal (not political) matters. I understand his critique of bourgeois feminism and aspects of radical feminism, who failed to bring up issues of class and race. The black feminists share these critiques in their very marxist-friendly analysis of the bourgeois women’s movement, which is why it is important to distinguish between the different tendencies within feminism. I try to explain this to him, and compare it to the ways we differentiate marxisms (stalinist, leninist, trotskyist, autonomous). He is quite stubborn and often fails to understand the comparison.
If we are to integrate and bring women into our marxist movement and organizations we must prioritize and value feminism. Not all feminism is good just like not all marxists are good or useful. But feminism can be very important, healing and empowering for a lot of women. It gives you clarity and understanding of all the painful conditioning we go through as we have been broken into these rigid gender roles that regulate our sexuality. As marxists we must expose the system in all aspects of its oppression and exploitation to build a revolutionary consciousness that will change the system. The more advanced and complicated the system is the more complicated the oppression is, and the more likely the oppressors (the ruling class) will try to hide its inner workings. Marx wrote,
“Thus the most general abstractions commonly appear where there is the highest concrete development, where one feature appears to be shared by many, and to be common to all. Then it cannot be thought of any longer in one particular form.”(6)
Capitalism and the division of labor relies on fetishizing economic forms that dictate our social relations. All of our particular lived experiences, as well as human potential, is abstracted within this system. As revolutionaries we must not continue that process and reduce all oppression to one abstract form, whether it be solely focusing on class, race or sexuality. We must expose the complicated ways domination plays out within our society, and that means looking at how it materializes within the class and our communities. Marx was brilliant, but his theoretical investigations failed to expose the ways homophobia, sexism and racism are integrated into the capitalist organization of our society. This doesn’t mean we reject him. We use his method to make new theoretical explorations that advance the method and our theoretical analysis and strategy for struggle. If we are to build a world free of oppression and exploitation and that is built around the survival and development of the people then our revolutionary organization and movement must be free of domination.
We must all (young and old) learn these feminist lessons from the failures of past struggles if we are to work towards building a truly holistic and revolutionary working-class movement today. Unfortunately, these lessons aren’t easy and come with a tremendous amount of growing pains. As a young person I am committed to building a multigenerational organization and struggle that learns from our elders, but our elders must be open to our perspectives and advancements too. We must be committed to dialoguing and learning from these lessons together if we are going to achieve unity in theory and practice.
I am inspired by the atmosphere of a place. I like to spend a lot of time focused on the details. Paying attention to the lighting, the scent in the room, the music playing. Atmosphere and inspiration have a relationship in my life. Certain kinds of atmospheres and settings inspire me in all different kinds of ways, whether it be scenes in a movie or novel I have yet to create, or images for paintings. A room can make me want to produce something. And different kinds of art, such as movies and music, can inspire me to create a certain kind of atmosphere in my personal space that strengthens the creative vibe, which you need to be productive.
Tonight as I was relaxing in my little creative cave I decided to set the mood with the eclectic and mildly misogynistic Serge Gainsbourg. I found myself falling back in love with his wonderfully odd ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ track, and Brigitte Bardot’s soft vocals. The song also made me think about the movie from the 1960’s about the famous lumpen Bonnie and Clyde. As a kid I always liked the story of the outlaw couple. I had some level of class consciousness that made me untrusting of banks and other sources of profit, and generally supportive of people trying to pull one over on the system. I am not endorsing folks to go out and rob banks or anything, but I never condemned them for doing so. I love the aesthetic of the film Bonnie and Clyde. It is very inspiring to me. I love the colors and lighting, and the fashion was very influential too, especially Bonnie’s pencil skirts, berets and scarves. I always had a secret crush on Faye Dunaway; I thought she was so beautiful and powerful. Although her look still corresponds to dominant beauty standards of being thin and blonde, I always thought she had a very unique and strong face that I find very attractive. Listening to Gainsbourg tonight inspired me to look at old stills from the film so I decided to share the song and these delightful photographs. Enjoy!
Last night The Corner Collective, the radical black art collective I am a part of with my homies Crunch and Tracy, decided to go out to the bottoms after we heard that it was reggae night at Revolution Cafe. I was excited to hear that the cafe, which is the only coffeeshop and one of the few businesses in West Oakland, was staying open later and hosting events in the neighborhood. There aren’t a lot of spaces for the residents of west Oakland to go to and hang out at. There aren’t even a lot of schools anymore, due to the budget cuts closing them down or turning them into a police station like they did to Cole Middle school. The budget cuts are disproportionately effecting youth of color in Oakland and the k-12 sector. Schools and after school programs are closing down, while Oakland Police continue to gain more power through their continual funding and the gang injunctions, which allow them to target and profile brown and black youth in North Oakland and the Fruitvale. There aren’t a lot of safe spaces for youth and people of color to hang out at, where the threat and hassle of the police isn’t an issue. Again, this is why I was excited to learn that Revolution Cafe in West Oakland, a historically working-class black neighborhood and home to the Black Panthers, was staying open later and having free reggae nights for the people in the community. And this is why The Corner Collective decided to go and get our puff and sway on to the rhythm. We are interested in building more artistic and social spaces for the people of Oakland, especially people of color, and we are interested in being a part of cultural spaces that already exist and are doing that work.
This is why we were shocked when we pulled up to the cafe and were greeted by a crowd of white punk rock kids and hipsters dancing to ska music. This wasn’t our version of a ‘reggae’ night in West Oakland. I understand that West Oakland is changing. It’s been changing for years now. For a long time it was largely black and then working-class latino families living in the neighborhood. But the recent years have been met with a large influx of white professionals and punk/traveler kids in the neighborhood, who have been quick to carve up a lot of space without really understanding what that means to the working-class black and brown residents in the neighborhood or even Oakland as a historical city. Revolution Cafe has been in existence for years now and owned by a long time resident of Oakland. The Panthers used to hang out there. It has always been a community space, but the community is changing and that was obvious last night. James Baldwin once said ‘urban renewal means negro removal.’ And I can’t help but look around West Oakland and wonder where did all the black people go?
When we entered the place we immediately retreated to the back patio to sip on some libations and mentally prepare ourselves to go back inside. The back patio wasn’t much nicer. We were met with cold stares by kids with denim studded vests. It reeked of bad beer and there was broken glass all on the ground. I had never seen the patio so dirty. We begin to get our smoke on when this white man walked up to us, and asked if he could ‘get a hit off of that.’ I looked up at him like ‘are you out of your damn mind’. There was no, ‘excuse me guys I don’t mean to interrupt but could I please get a hit off of your piece’. No manners…nothing even close. Just give me. I was like man you bold you already have taken over our spaces now you demanding trees too without even a please. We were the only brown faces in that patio, and the first thing you do when you approach us is to ask for something. There was no hello. No introduction. I was disgusted. A few seconds went by where I just looked at him then I replied clearly ‘no’. And he had the audacity to scoff at me ‘really no’ and walk away angry like I was the rude one. I couldn’t believe it. We laughed about it amongst ourselves, but there was something really disturbing to me about the way this man felt he could treat us, and make us feel in this space. We stayed for a few minutes more, but the largely white male punk rock folks who we were sharing the back patio space with, begin to play fight resulting in more broken glass and bodies being shoved in our direction. The overall energy felt aggressive and particularly hostile towards us so we left with feelings of marginalization. I felt angry that we, as radical young black people, were being pushed out of this historical space in West Oakland. And I felt angry that there aren’t more underground spaces for young people of color to hang out in, and feel comfortable in; where the vibrant cultural and political history of Oakland can be celebrated and continued. And I am left wondering if the punk rock kids, who were drinking their PBR’s in the front of the cafe, are aware of this rich political and cultural Oakland history.
Now don’t get me wrong I am not trying to race bait these young white people and overly simplify the situation that these are just some privilege white kids moving into our neighborhood and I don’t like it. The situation of gentrification and the redevelopment of Oakland is more complicated than that. I am also not saying that they shouldn’t be there, but it was difficult for me to wrap my head around why they were the only ones there in this space. And why myself and my two friends, Tracy who is born and raised in East Oakland, had to feel marginalized in this space and forced to leave, because we didn’t feel safe by their hostile attitude towards us. We also prefer to not kick it and relate to each other by slapping each other in the back of each others heads and breaking beer bottles inside a cafe in our community. Maybe these are just cultural differences, but I felt like it was so difficult to co-exist in that space and feel safe and welcomed. I understand that a lot of these punk kids, who are moving into West Oakland, aren’t just trust fund kids who like slumming it in the ghetto. Some are. But a lot are also working-class, and West Oakland is still a more affordable neighborhood than others. I understand that. That said, the economic capital they are missing is made up for with all the cultural capital and freedom they access through their racial privilege. They are not as vulnerable to the police like the youth of color hanging out on the block, because there are no spaces for them to be at. They are able to more freely move in and out of space. When we were leaving last night I was amazed at the masses of young white people hanging out on 7th street with their dogs drinking beer with no worries about cop harassment. Meanwhile, we had a cop follow my car for a few blocks giving me a tremendous amount of anxiety. The street has changed so much. A former partner of mine used to live off of 7th street. We would often hang out on the block people watching, and talking to the neighbors. It looked much different even two years ago.
I found myself thinking of brilliant and controversial jazz musician Sun Ra’s classic space age film and commentary on race Space is the Place. The plot is centered around Sun Ra trying to organize black people to leave the United States and settle on a new planet. Garveyite message aside, there were moments last night where I asked myself and my friends ‘where are our public spaces?’ Do we need to get a space ship and move to another planet, where the hipsters might not invade like they are doing in Oakland and Brooklyn. I am not for removing myself, and I am not trying to counteract the hostility and privilege of these white youth with more hostility. However, I don’t want to allow myself to feel marginalized in spaces that I feel like I have a right to be in. I think its important that we intervene in these existing spaces and make them more open to everyone in the community again. And we can do this in a positive way that isn’t just trying to marginalize others. But it is important that white youth also understand the history of Oakland and the new spaces they are occupying. It is important that their comfort in living in the hood doesn’t result in them approaching my friends and I, and demanding things from us in disrespectful ways. But what is more important, and which was made clear to me last night, is that we need to start building and making new spaces for all of the communities we are a part of. Spaces that are safe and reflect our political and cultural perspectives. This was something the Panthers were good at; creating spaces for the community to be in through their survival programs. There are political critiques of it now, because the Panther work degenerated into solely providing social services, which are needed, but is not the sole task of the revolution. Today the revolutionary fire of the Black Panther Party is out and has devolved into the liberalism of non profits. We need that revolutionary fire again, and a part of that work is building relationships with people in our community through spaces we share. And if there is a lack of these spaces then we must build them. This is no easy task, but one we must do to sustain ourselves, our communities, and all of our important political and artistic work. And despite all the discomfort we felt last night, I feel excited by the inspiring brilliant radical artists around me to build with.❤
‘Wanna smoke some hash?’
said the middle-age white man flailing his arms around to the funk and soul rhythms pulsing out of the dj booth.
‘Sure’ I replied.
I look over to my friend and he nods in the kind of the way that gives us the okay to move forward.
We stand outside in the rain,
fuzzing my curly hair
and smoke this mans hash
as he tells of his great love for cactus’s and the news.
We tear up the dance floor
four brown faces in a sea of whiteness and glitter
but we don’t care.
I chase the other half-black boy into the back patio
where we steal kisses and touches in the dark.
I come back out to see your smiling brown face
We laugh in the back seats of sports cars that aren’t ours.
We laugh hard because it feels good.
We laugh hard because we are alive
and time is precious and not easy to come by
in days filled with regimented hours.
But sometimes overcast days
bring the promise of cheap wine, backseat sessions, sidewalk dancing, soft kisses
and the beautiful laughter of others.
Today is International Women’s Day so it is only fitting that when I got into my car this morning the oldies station was bumpin Kool and the Gang’s ‘Ladies Night’…ha! But in all seriousness today is very personally important to my political history. Not just because I am a revolutionary womyn, but also because planning and organizing International Women’s day events and actions were some of the first political work I did. My community college years mark my feminist awakening in political activism. As a product of a working-class single mother, who instilled in me the importance of reproductive rights and queer rights (she’s a classic fag hag), I have always been a feminist. But it wasn’t until I begin building and organizing with this feminist group on my campus, The Women’s Alliance, that my feminist consciousness took a practical form. Those years and experiences were vital for me in building my confidence as a political womyn, and learning basic skills of organizing: flyering, talking politics with strangers, planning and facilitating events and actions. It also really speaks to me about the importance of having autonomous and safe spaces. I know that the talents and determination I bring to multigender political spaces are the results of years of organizing and talking politics in autonomous women and queer spaces and collectives. Celebrating International Women’s Day in a country that doesn’t on a mass scale, and in a world that devalues women became something very important to me and all the beautiful women I worked with. The celebration itself was week-long with a combination of educational events and speakers ending with a big rally on the actual day. The events were all designed to bring awareness on feminist issues, such as rape and domestic violence, health and the feminization of poverty. We celebrated revolutionary women around the world, such as Afghani revolutionary woman Meena, and brought out local women owned businesses and organizations that served women. The politics were liberal at times, but reformism aside it was historically important for us as women, who all bear the scars of patriarchy and class exploitation, to come together and celebrate each other and the actions of women who have helped shaped the world across time.
I feel a tremendous amount of pride and inspiration knowing that some of the most radical labor struggles and revolutionary struggles have been organized and led by womyn. When the oppressed decide to move against their oppressive conditions to change them it is often the most marginalized, and unorganized layers of the population that lead the way. These layers have often been women of all colors, who , due to patriarchy and racism, have often been shut out of unions and other traditional left organizing spaces. These women have had nothing left to lose in a world that has taken almost everything, but their determination to survive. These women whose legacies lie in factory fires, where they were locked in and forced to work for 14 hours a day; these women who held their babies in their arms and risked gunfire as they took the streets to demand basic human rights; these women who were enslaved but still engaged in military campaigns and battles to free their people; these women who defied orders from revolutionary parties and ushered in revolutions; these women who dare to love each other openly despite the sexist and homophobic attacks that try to regulate our sexuality. And today in a time of economic crisis, where cuts to healthcare and reproductive services are continual warfare on our bodies; where school and daycare closures fall on the backs of working-class mothers, who must find education and care for their children; where massive lay offs are happening in ‘feminized’ sectors of the workforce, such as teachers and nurses, while ‘masculinized’ sectors (police, firefighters) stay strong; where one million revolutionary Egyptian women march in the streets today to demand freedom as women and as Egyptians and are met with a hostile counter-protest by the men who still think their revolution means continual domination over women. I am reminded of the tremendous amount of work that has been done, and the tasks that lay ahead. I feel proud to be a womyn connected to this international social fabric of revolutionary women, who continue to make history.
Power to the sisters and therefore the class!
Comrade sister can I just sit here and bask in the warmth of your heavenly soul?
Gathering courage from your earth shattering strength that inspires me to keep on
Because you understand the patriarchy internalized
that teaches us to devalue ourselves and each other.
To accept the unwanted touch of men
tricking us to believe that that is where our power lies.
But they’re mistaken.
an inspiration to the struggle.
A reminder that it is sisters like you that move humanity forward.
Because we understand the dialectics
as we race against time to prove history wrong.
As we embrace
sheltering each other from the wounds of hands that exist solely to knock you down
not to pick you back up.
And in the words of Assata
we keep getting back up
‘a little slower and a lot more deadly’
As I sat down at a coffeeshop to write this blog post during one of my routine weekend dates with myself to write and people watch a former co-worker, who I have been meaning to be-friend walked by. I waved him down and he ran in to say hello. After a few minutes of the standard ‘hi how are you’ exchange he started to politely excuse himself so I could continue with my work. Usually I welcome this, because I have my creative work routines that I like to adhere to. We only get so much free time when we are not doing waged work to engage in doing creative work for ourselves, and connecting with ourselves so I usually don’t like to disrupt that process. On the other hand we also only get so much free time to connect with others, who also influence and shape us as individuals, and I have been trying to focus on developing the relationships around me. So instead of allowing my new friend to excuse himself I decided to enjoy the experience of the spontaneous company, and invite him to sit down. We had lovely conversation and then decided to go get dinner together, and then later on in the evening mobbed the hipster infested dance floor with my boy Crunch at the Funk/Soul dance party at Revolution Cafe. I didn’t get the work done that I was planning to do, but I did bring friends closer, had great conversation about growth, and experiences and memories to build upon. All of these things aren’t easy to come by, and they are all connected to my goals for this month and the new moon, which occurred on friday and is the subject of this post.
Recently a very close and important friend of mine, and I were having some growing woman talk over a bottle of ‘mojo’ wine in my kitchen about all the transitions we have been going through, and the pain and beauty of them all. As a practical use of the content of our conversation she suggested we do a moon ceremony, because the next day would be the new moon for the month of March. I had never done anything like that, but I love ceremonies, rituals and the moon, and why not start off a new month by connecting with ourselves and the moon. We agreed to write letters to ourselves articulating five goals to meditate on for the month, and then we would share them over dinner at her house, and then go off to a queer people of color (qpoc) punk show. Perfect plan!
It was a very beautiful, and important night for me that really encapsulated the objectives of my letter and the way I am trying to live my life. I won’t go into all the specifics of the five goals for the month, but they all focus on re-connecting with myself and with others in a healthy way. The individualistic nature of the capitalist system we live in disconnects us from our collectivity and feeling tied to a community. Not that people can’t feel a sense of community, but it is different when we are living in a system that is organized around the collective survival of the people. Everyone’s role is important and we feel connected to each other. Under this system we just work for the profit of others and a paycheck that helps us or our family members/loved ones survive. Often the work we do is not the work we want to do, and we often don’t have control over it. That’s the bosses job. So we are also disconnected from ourselves and our desires. This is the alienating effects of capitalism. And if you are a woman your disconnection from yourself takes on a more grotesque form through the objectification of our bodies and the way we fragment ourselves through constantly scrutinizing our body parts (my butt is too big, my hair is too kinky, my breasts are too small, ect). We are trained have an unhealthy relationship with ourselves through the unhealthy beauty standards forced upon us.
Acknowledging the disconnecting effects of this system and trying to get back in touch with ourselves and others in a holistic healthy way is no easy task, but it has been a path I have been on for the last year. 2011 offers a lot of promise and potential for me, but the year got off to a rocky start. There were moments, where the path was foggy and I wasn’t sure if I was on it or not, but recently I am feeling stronger with more clarity and confidence to move forward. It’s a process of shedding skin…shedding weight…feeling lighter….opening myself up to the universe…opening myself up to experience and real living…real connections…and nice reflections of it all as I move onward. Its a really wonderful and empowering feeling that makes me feel whole and full of happiness.
The moon ceremony night was a perfect way to start the process of growth that I have been on in a more intentional and articulated way. I believe in the material power of ideas and dreams. I always felt that once we articulated our ideas we were that much closer to making them happen. I think this is why I am a marxist and a black feminist; I understand the power of writing, theory and action from both schools of thought. Karl Marx writes,
“The world has long since possessed something in the form of a dream which it need only take possession of consciously, in order to possess it in reality.”
That is a powerful and true statement that fills me with a lot confidence of my own agency to act upon the conditions around me to change them in a way to match my dreams for myself and for the world. The new moon marked a smaller step in that process. The night was full of so much warmth. Sharing food, wine and love with a close friend as we read our thoughts together and shared dreams for our collective future. We folded our moon letters into our pockets, consumed some other treats from the earth, and made our way to the qpoc punk show. I felt excited to be surrounded my people I didn’t know in a space that I am not often in. I am in qpoc spaces all the time, but not in punk ones. Usually I would feel more nervousness when I am in spaces full of people I don’t know or that are out of my element, but not that night. Like I said above, I wanted to open myself up to experience, to living, to feeling vulnerable and honest. When we open ourselves up in this reflective way we are more open to letting others in and getting closer to ourselves, and that is what my night was. It felt so inspiring and cinematic. I smoked a cigarette outside with this beautiful, twenty year old young man from East Oakland. He looked just like Basquiat and had a soft voice like him too with little locks. I shared banana chips inside with this brown womyn, who had this amazing hair that looked like experimental filmmaker Maya Deren, but a Chicana/Black version. I asked her if she had ever heard of her, she hadn’t, so I complimented her on her amazing locks nonetheless. It felt good to be full of so much respect and admiration of others, and to share it with them even though they were strangers. I watched my close friend yell about the patriarchy of the moshing that was happening around us and admired her strength and brilliance. Then I ran into the mosh pit and pushed this big guy really hard away from us. He loved it and gave me two thumbs up.
Then I had the most intense experience of the night with this incredibly beautiful woman, who I had eyed across the room right when I had first entered the space. I gradually made my way over towards her (my friend knew her friend so that was a sort of opening). I struck up conversation by offering her some of the strawberry gum that I knew was in my pocket. I clumsily dropped it in her palm then in the most socially awkward way told her I thought she was very pretty. She laughed. We talked about art and then she went with her friends to get more beer. I didn’t talk to her again, because I was dancing to the music, but then I felt this tap on my shoulder, and she was standing behind me holding my gold necklace with my name on it. It’s an important necklace to me that I often wear and had no idea that it had even fallen off. It was also an incredibly dark and crowded room so if I did notice I don’t know if I would have found it. But this woman…this beautiful woman who I noticed right away, who I awkwardly told was pretty, was standing behind me with my gold necklace glittering in the light like it was magic. I thanked her, but was overwhelmed by the intensity. I felt this heat between us. She then turned away and then ran out of the room. I decided to run after her, but when I got outside she was there with her friend. I wanted to tell her the intense emotions I was having; I wanted to tell her that it seemed like some cosmic message from the universe that I met her that night and that in that crowded room she found an important article of mine and gave it to me; I wanted to tell her that I wanted to go on an adventure with her, and learn about her dreams and life experiences….But I chickened out and settled for a ‘whoa that was really intense that YOU gave me this (holds up my necklace). Thank you!” Then I awkwardly went back inside.
At first I felt slightly disappointed, but my friend eased my worries. She told me that I was intuitive before others, and I accept that. It gives me hope and excitement for the future. After leaving the party and dropping my friend off I drove up to grizzly peak, where I could see all of the bay. And continue my moon ceremony in my solitude to reflect. It was beautiful. All the lights were twinkling and I could see the movement of the cars. Everything felt so alive and in vibration. I felt alive in this really important way that made me feel connected to others and myself, which gives me purpose. It was a powerful night that I am incredibly grateful for. And I am grateful for my friend, who I spent it with and whose idea it was, and who I have a lot of deep love for. I feel excited for the continuing journey of getting closer to myself and others, and truly living my life. I look forward to moons, friendships (new and old), and moving in a direction of taking hold of my dreams in reality.