Life

So, I never thought I’d write this, but my friend Tristan died. About a week ago – on a Friday morning – Ryan walked in to the living room bearing the bad news, after seeing a few articles in the SF Chronicle and TechCrunch. He was in the tech community, so I suppose his death was tech news.

Tristan was my oldest friend, I’ve known him since I was maybe five. His parents owned a futon shop in the same quiet strip mall where my parent’s Chinese restaurant was located. We spent many long summer afternoons running around causing all sorts of trouble. Catching frogs, playing with his mice and monitor lizard, running toy cars up and down the sidewalk, camping out in the Drug Emporium and laughing at the ‘adult’ aisle. So many kid memories.

I don’t remember when, but eventually his family moved away to New York, and I remember being sad. Years passed, and every now and then I would wonder about him. This was before Facebook, so I kept wondering.

One day when I was living in San Francisco (about a decade ago), I got a Facebook message. It was from Tristan! He had looked me up. And what a coincidence, we both lived in the bay area! And he had co-founded Square… what? I was shocked by the randomness of it, but proud of his success. And so our friendship continued, but this time as adults.

Our adult friendship was a little bit different. Because as adults, there’s just so many other responsibilities vying for your attention. Work, home, family, and in his case majorly… relationships.

Many times I would try to hang out with him, and it would have to be worked around his significant other’s schedule. I remember one time we had finally nailed down plans, and he ended up cancelling on me that night because his girlfriend’s plans fell through. What the hell, man? You live together, you’ll see her at home!

We had good times together, but over the years his romantic drama became more intense. There were breakups and engagements (3). Then breakups again. I always knew to reach out when he was in a breakup. That was when he for sure would be ‘available.’ Kind of reminds me of the lyrics to the Smiths song “Hold on to your friends.”

But now you only call me
When you’re feeling depressed
When you feel happy I’m
So far from your mind
My patience is stretched
My loyalty vexed
Oh, you’re losing all of your friends

Then his life took a different turn when the money came in from Square. He stopped working a nine to five and started doing… what? I’m not really sure. Travel, school, photography, a number of different things. It was a lot harder to relate to him, but I was glad that he had this unique opportunity. I was jealous, what can I say?

The last few years were bad. He got into another romantic relationship. All of his relationships were up and down, but this one made being friends with Tristan harder than ever. I won’t go into details, but there was a specific moment that my heart just broke and I’d had enough.

I decided right then and there that I had to let this friendship go. I wasn’t going to kill it, but I wasn’t going to nurture it anymore. It hurt too much to be disappointed every time.

So from then on, I mostly observed from a distance. I saw him have a daughter. I saw him share his struggles with addiction. I saw him move to Los Angeles. About a year ago I remember unfollowing him on Facebook, and not responding to a text message from him informing me of his new phone number. I just had to take a break from it all.

Now that he’s gone, I feel incredibly guilty. I somehow mucked my way through the workday that Friday, and at the end of it I dragged Ryan to Last Rites, our neighborhood tiki bar, to pour one out for Tristan. I hate that the last memories that I have of him are of him going through hard times. I hate that I couldn’t help him more, and I hate that his life became a weird oddity, almost a running joke between me and my friends. Like hey, what crazy shit has your friend been up to?

I got really drunk at the tiki bar, but I did remember some good things. I remembered how funny, and present and alive my friend always was. He was so creative and geeky. He was a mega Apple fanboy, and I remember visiting his apartment, and seeing every model of i-anything decorating his room. He was very affectionate and sentimental. Sometimes he’d send me a text saying “Hey! I’m passing your favorite Starbucks, thinking of you!”. I don’t even really go to that Starbucks that much, it was just something that I’d said offhand one time when we were walking down Market Street, but he remembered. I still have a weird plastic friendship bracelet he made for me at summer camp, which is stored in a memory box in my room. Reminds me of better times. There was a reason that I tried to stay friends with him, even though it wasn’t easy to maintain.

Thankfully, I do have at least one adult memory of him that is pure and uncomplicatedly happy… One perfect day biking in the rain out to Sausalito. I even blogged about it. It was nearly 8 years ago to the day.

I’m so sad about losing you buddy, but I’ll try to keep this day and this version of you in my mind. You will be missed.

Travel

A couple of weeks ago I headed up to the Seattle area with my friend Alyssa to visit Jill and see what her new PNW life is all about. She asked me to bring a little taste of the SF coffee scene as her present for her boyfriend Brett’s birthday. Four pounds of coffee ended up getting me stopped and screened at SFO security. The TSA agent was SO confused. Oh it’s coffee? And another one… and more coffee…. and.. more? ūüėÄ

Got in Friday evening and had to drive back the hour and half to the island where they live. Stopped off at a distillery for a yummy dinner. As a tourist, I felt like I HAD to get the local liqueur flight.

The Bonfire Toffee Liqueur was THE BEST. Sweet and ridiculous. Great poured over vanilla ice cream. Probably also good in your coffee.

On Saturday we went whale watching. Basically it all looked like this for three hours. Iphones galore.

The whales were out and about, thanks to Jill’s A+ work summoning the whales with her super powerful whale tank top.¬†

We saw some good breaches and some whale tail action, but the real star of the day was this massive Stellar sea lion reigning over his harem. He was taking a nap at first, but as we rode by, he staggered up, looked around, and started showing off for us. Good job Mr. Sea Lion! Rock that girth!

Pooped out after all that hard work whale watching¬† ūüôā

Later we got to visit the naval base where Brett works. I learned about the controversial “Sky Penis“, which has its own patch and Christmas ornament, apparently. I really wanted a photo with the patch.

We went out for mussels at this local dive that had some amazing taxidermy.

Then a romantic walk on the beach for sunset (it was like 9pm). Well, not so romantic… we were kicked out by a grumpy park ranger.¬†

I slept on the couch in the living room and woke up to this serene scene every morning.

On Sunday we went to a local park for a cookout celebrating Brett’s birthday. The morning started misty, but things cleared up by the afternoon. We explored the park a bit before and after.

Before

After

Deception pass bridge

The same bridge from a distance

Top of our little trek. Awesome view, right?

Ran into a log that looked like a bear head.

We headed back home on Monday, and got to take the ferry back as part of the shuttle ride. The ride was only 15, 20 minutes max, but they had so many puzzles out on the tables for riders to work on. Alyssa went nuts working on a puzzle at Jill & Brett’s house, so of course she was pretty psyched to find them out in the wild.

On the shuttle ride back to the airport we saw a guy drinking matcha from a rubber cup.  He carried around a thermos of hot water and kept topping up. It seemed like a precarious situation, but kudos to him for doing what he wanted?

I had  a few hours to burn at the airport, but luckily I get Priority Pass membership with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which gives me access to a bunch of airport lounges. Spent the time drinking free manhattans and eating a fantastic tuna melt. Great end to a great trip.

Life

Acceptance and Letting Go of Expectations

Venicebeach

Over Memorial Day I took a trip down to Los Angeles to visit my mother. It was a belated Mother’s Day celebration visit, yet I felt dread.

Ever since my mom opened her Vietnamese restaurant in 2010, she’s been very unavailable, even when I come down from San Francisco. Her eyes are on the prize, she works every day, even when she has pneumonia. TRUTH.¬†The last few times that I’ve visited, I’ve gotten my feelings hurt terribly. I would come out for a multi-day visit yet only see my mom for a few hours. It was just weird, and it hurt a lot.

My therapist had me total out the amount of time that I spend with my mom over the course of a year and all I could think was total, maybe a 6-12 hours? A day or two? Who knows.¬†After a few years of these trips I started feeling abandoned. Over time I accepted that my mom is a workaholic. There’s really nothing that can be done. And even though I know this, my mom’s utter dedication to her work stings every time.

While I was preparing myself emotionally for this visit, I thought… what if I do things differently this time?What if instead of bemoaning the fact that my mom can’t spend as much time with me as I would like I simply accept that it’s not going to change and focus on enjoying the time that we do spend together?

I can’t say that I didn’t make it through the trip without feeling a bit exasperated, but the shift in thinking helped a lot. Instead of going “oh, here we go again” when my mom was late or had to go back to work I just let it be. I had plans, I lived my life. She popped in for a little bit and we had fun. It was so much… easier. I accepted that my mom would be busy at work and I let go of the expectation that she would take massive amounts of time off to hang out with me. ¬†This sounds simple, but it was a revelation.

Today I was upset and angry about being let down in the same ways time and time again by those close to me. I was thinking to myself, if they would just stop doing this one stupid thing that hurts my feelings, if they could make an honest effort to change maybe we could get along better… Then I stopped myself, thinking of my nice trip to LA. Reason intervened. The truth is that maybe they will change, maybe they won’t, or maybe they can’t- but it’s really not up to me. I’ve¬†already voiced my feelings and desires.

What I can do however is work on accepting them as they are and changing my expectations and my reaction.

So a friend keeps letting me down in the same way every time we get together? What if I just decide that it’s not my problem and I won’t let it bother me anymore? What if I let go of wanting this one thing? Would I stop being disappointed and hurt? I don’t know, but I hope so.