Sidelines and Sessions


Only One

Filed under: Uncategorized — spsukaton @ 4:08 am

Warning: Sentimentality ahead.

Dear You,

“Oh you are my only one…”

If I have “only one” in my life right now, then it must be the entire world. I’ve said I’m too busy enjoying the world to share it in a relationship, and this summer is witness to that.

Doors have opened since June, and, as much as I cringe at overused tropes, “this summer has changed my life.” I haven’t had any crash-conversion altar call type experiences this year; rather, the chords in my life have are resolving with the promise of more music to come. Harmony, rather than dissonance, is the theme this summer.

I’m not going to go in order; sometimes, the world makes sense out of order. Go figure.

UC Irvine is a lovely campus, those that “zot” on it, equally charming. While I remain a mystified newcomer to the arcana of student organizing, the enthusiasm and intelligence of UCSA delegates and UC students electrifies me a month after the fact. We’re in hard times and a hard place, but adversity spurs dormant power. I look forward to my last year at UCLA (and possibly in California) seeing what you can and will do for the Master Plan and California’s historic respect for public education.

I love UCLA more after guiding out-of-staters all over it in baking July heat. Again, while I participated with a tyro’s misdirected fervor, USSA’s National Student Congress was a “conference that changes lives.” UCLA delegates, thanks for giving me space to represent our campus. To everyone I met or interacted with there, thank you for your sincere support for education, regardless of our disagreements.

I met fantastic, enthusiastic people at UCSA Congress at Irvine and USSA Congress at UCLA. While I’m more than halfway out the door of my undergraduate life, hearing the ambitions, burdens, and stories of so many student activists, leaders, and organizers leave me heartened despite the trash talk about my generation’s fickleness, flightiness, and general superficiality. To those of the California, United States, and international student movements: y’all are an inspiration in all your idealistic, argumentative, sprawling joy, and I hope you wed your energy to warm hearts and cool heads. We’re inheriting a crueler world than our parents did and I look forward to building with you, “wherever you stand.”  Can’t stop, won’t stop!

To my Summer Activist Training family, there are no words good enough for you.  Thank you for trusting me with a bullhorn and letting me channel my inner James Brown down Pioneer Boulevard. Thank you for long nights of Mafia and sleeping bags and theory and practice and walking tours. Thank you for being you – fierce API people-loving people. May you find power and satisfaction and joy wherever you turn your hands, and I hope we spend years and years together building a world that our families and communities can flourish in. Makibaka, huwag matakot!

To my new(er) friends at UCLA, you’re amazing. Unlike the previous groups I’ve shouted out, we don’t have as much visible in common – maybe we don’t vote the same, maybe we don’t look the same, maybe I’ll never see you on a picket line or at a rally…but strong roots grow deep, unseen.. Thank you for the meals we’ve shared, the couches and the futons, the long nights and woozy mornings and cups of coffee and unpretentious, unassuming, occasionally bawdy, always fulfilling joy we’ve had this summer and these few years past. Mark your calendars: January 3rd. Go Bruins.

To those who I’ve met in the past two decades who don’t necessarily fit in any of these blocks – fear not. I know you, and miss you, and appreciate you.

And I can’t forget about the block – whether it’s North End ‘dino, Highland/Del Rosa, or the Adventists on the other end of Waterman. You, as much as anybody else in my life, are home, and it shows in how I approach the world. You forged my ambitions and my convictions at church, in school, at the mall, in the semi-misery of adolescence, and in the times I’ve returned.  Parkside and Richardson’s unquestioning faith in students bore fruit in my demanding nature towards my teachers. Powerhouse, I’ve seen 5 youth pastors come and go – my time passed, but I’m always in your corner. Cajon, I’ve missed you. San Gorgonio, I wouldn’t be at UCLA doing anything I do without you. Whether it’s Sprite at Friday vespers or rollin’ 20s over pizza in the wee hours of Sunday mornings, or wandering through the night in an unsuccessful search for banh mi,  you’ve been my rock for ages, where my convictions and ambitions were given shade and sharpened. As much as I don’t admit it, I wear you on my tongue among Bruins, among activists and musicians and writers, and I know I’ll carry an arrowhead in my heart to my deathbed. I’ll do my best to show DC what’s up, just as I have LA. G-mob? YOU KNOW!

And beneath and beyond all else…to my family. Words fail, for once. The writer in the family can’t really speak to it…because I myself don’t comprehend it all just yet.  You taught me values – education, self-sufficiency, merit, respect, the mediation between immigrant responsibility and American opportunity. For all our fraying and frustration, we hold together in a way that friends and onlookers envy and have always envied. You’ve been safe when nothing else has been, and your moral compass has provided me with the truest north I have. All I’ve done to this point has aimed to make you proud and comfortable in the home you’ve decided on.

All of you – every person in any of these paragraphs, any person I’ve met or will meet, any human being I’ve had contact with. You are my “only one.” You are the masks of God, continuously trying to enter my life, and you are worthy of the gifts you have gotten and will get. More than worthy, for is man not a little lower than the angels? I thank you for the times I’ve been allowed to be a blessing and I beg your forgiveness for the times when I haven’t been good to you or to myself with you.

Thank you for the doors you’ve closed or opened, thank you for the things said and unsaid, done and undone, for all of our lives – the universe – would be different without them. I wish you every joy possible and I leave you with what I’ve learned from all of you (and what I hope to do as I leave for the alabaster swamp we call the District of Columbia.)
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go.”

-Ecclesiastes 9:10

So live it up, work, play and rest hard – and finish as satisfied and exhausted and as righteous as you can.

I’m in town until Saturday; after that, see you in three months.



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