Last year, I hopped on a plane to Tokyo before the countdown began, and landed in the evening of the 1st of January. Making my way to my rental apartment in Koenji, the city was quiet as folks celebrated with their family. It was a strange trip. I got to do my hatsumode at Meiji Jingu with thousands of people, and see the Emperor’s second to last speech before his groundbreaking abdication next year. Parks were closed, but fortunately, izakayas were open. My friend Magda met up with me later that week, and I showed her Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. It was her first trip to Japan, and we both had a blast eating food and visiting a cool ryokan.
I spent very little time in Portland this year, it felt like. I traveled slightly less than in 2017, but between bouncing back and forth to Oakland and San Francisco for work and various trips abroad, Snorri and my Portland friends saw me half of every month. I lifted as often as I could, and competed in two internal powerlifting meets. I kept running the board of directors for Basic Rights too. But increasingly, Portland felt like the wrong place for me. When I was in town, I often found myself spending lots of time alone, cooking and eating at home, or seeing movies solo. XOXO this year was fun, but the friends I spent most of it with were all from the bay. I’d made and lost many friends, and my energy was low. I started thinking more seriously about moving to Oakland during a really busy time at work, so it took a bit for things to settle. Once they did, my company was part of Slack, and I was suddenly moving to Emeryville. I’ll miss so many of my friends in Portland, but as living halfway there and the bay for a few years taught me, it’s a quick flight.
My partner suggested offhandedly at one point that they were going to Europe for a conference, and that it would be cool to meet up in Berlin. I bit, and immediately booked tickets. We stayed in Neukölln, near Tempelhofer Fields, and I immediately fell for the city, the Berliner Weiss, and the vibe. More than a few folks I know have since or before moved to Berlin, and despite wild bureaucratic issues, it seems like a very interesting place to live. I ate tons of döner kebab, and loved visiting LiquidRom (a place I’d described as a brutalist day spa). Mads and I had never spent that long together, and it definitely brought us closer together. I flew home happy, and looking forward to visiting again, and had just about a week in Portland before I flew off again.
This time, I was on my way via SFO to Copenhagen with my coworkers Brian and Mark to attend and run a booth at KubeCon. It was so, so busy. We ate a lot of smørrebrø, worked out in an old slaughterhouse, and generally had a blast. I spent an extra week there alone, with only a couple days a bit wasted by my conference-acquired cold. Vesterbro was really cool, though I still think it’s odd how many all-you-can-eat sushi places there were. I never rode a bike, which in retrospect is super odd, but I did drink a lot of aquavit, and ate a ton of wienerschnitzel. This turned out to be my last international trip of the year, despite my hope that I could get back to Japan in the fall.
Various circumstances meant I was flying back and forth to SFO more than once a month during the summer and early fall. There were early morning flights with afternoons returning to Portland for poorly-timed obligations. There were flights with friends, and lots of solo flights. Somehow I never quite managed to get status on a single airline. Near the end of my constant flying, I was happy to learn my new company wanted me to move to the bay by the end of October, and my friend Haley helpfully found me a lovely apartment near lots of friends at the edges of Emeryville and Berkeley. I signed the lease sight-unseen, on the assurance of my partner and the video they took that it was fantastic. It was, in fact, incredible. I finished up everything I could in Portland, had movers come, and took Snorri and myself to our new home.
I wrote about moving to Emeryville a while ago, and since then it’s gotten even better. I feel like I’ve settled into a schedule here that includes powerlifting, seeing friends, and taking care of my growing plant collection. A very mild fall means I get to wear all my light jackets, and my short bus commute to work led to ample time reading. It’s been great only bringing an iPad Pro to and from work for the past few months, and I feel lucky I get to leave my work, and work computer at the office. The holidays were better than I feared, and I got to spend time with a few friends here in the bay, as well as enjoy candles, snacks, and books in my cozy home. It also rules to finally live in the same city as my partner, and figuring out a good cadence in our hangouts has been fun, if sometimes tricky. I hope to spend many more years here.
I’m hopeful 2019 will lead to more books, movies, and fun times with friends and loved ones. Work is amazing, and it feels great to be at a company I really believe in, helping create a product I love using every day. I’m also staying on the board at Basic Rights, and I continue to be proud of our work in immigration rights, trans rights, and racial justice. So much of making this country a better place for everyone means small local changes, and I’m glad to be a small part of that work. I might try to compete more at powerlifting, and I definitely want to go back to Japan and Scandinavia if possible. The economy, at the time I’m writing this, looks like it’s headed towards a shit place, but I hope to keep saving money throughout the year. If everything works out, I’ll even get Snorri a new friend, so he doesn’t have to wait for me to get home from work alone every day. 2019 is another year—a fresh year to live and learn in. I’m looking forward to it.