Southern Comfort::: The Past Four Years

I’m not sure where to start so I just will. It’s currently 9:50 pm and I’m sitting in my hotel room, without pants on, drinking the tequila my uncle got my sister and I for graduation, watching The Office. I move to California the day after tomorrow, and after saying bye to one of my closest friends my heart hurts. A lot.IMG_1122I moved around a lot as a kid, and I’ve gotten okay at saying goodbye. I know the people who are meant to be in my life will stick around. But this time, moving is different. For the first time it marks the end of a really huge chapter. It hurts. I came to Columbia, South Carolina as a fresh little 18-year-old. I was an upcoming freshman at The University of South Carolina and I didn’t know what to anticipate. What I got was a city that challenged me, thicker skin and friends who I can’t imagine life without. Columbia itself- as a city- is okay. There are some amazing spots that all the weirdos congregate to- hello Drip and NBT- and they’ve helped me when I’ve felt like my head’s going to explode. I always say Columbia isn’t a city and it’s not a town- it’s somewhere in between. The nightlife is okay, my favorite is a literal underground bar called The Whig, but what I like is the fact that it sort of just exists. You can drive 30 minutes to somewhere that feels like Mars, 2 hours to Charleston or 10 minutes to a beautiful cemetery- it has the charm of a little town and the perks of a (small) city. Columbia is it’s own kinda thing. It just does what it does and it’s kind of great.

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It takes time to recognize how a place has shaped you. I’m not sure I can even put into words the past four years but I’ll try. Columbia isn’t easy to live in if you’re not the status quo. It’s not. I’ve been getting the side eye from old Republicans for practically every day the past four years. I made a decision my freshman year to pretend that I was living in NYC and to wear whatever I want which is probably why I get all the side eyes. But here’s the thing!! Being true to who you are and shining your light means other people recognize that. In a city where weirdos are just that, you recognize the other weirdos. You gotta stick together. Going into a vintage//costume shop (Hip Wa Zee)  to apply for a job my sophomore year led to meeting one of my best friends and having one of the coolest jobs of my life. Sitting at my favorite coffee shop everyday and writing meant that I met some of my favorite people. Being the over the top, not chill human I am led me to some of the best memories of my life. College was cool but what Columbia taught me was that honoring who you are, no matter how hard it is, is worth every single side eye and judgmental look. IMG_0378

My room in Columbia was the first time that I found sanctuary. It was the first time I found my escape, the one place I could go to sit and reflect and listen to all the little things I’d been ignoring for too long. Columbia was the city where I grew up, where I had my heart broken, where I chased my dreams and explored and where I manifested my deepest desires. When my parents moved from Atlanta back to San Diego last July, Columbia became my home and safe haven. It became the city that understood what I felt and how I didn’t belong. Columbia has been MY first home- not my family’s- and I love it for that.

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It’s strange reflecting on my time here because it’s only been four years. But I’ve graduated and this marks the end of the biggest chapter of my life and that’s damn hard. I’ve never felt settled anywhere and it’s not something that I’ve always been able to deal with. This city has been comfortable but it’s stretched me and shaped me and it’s helped me accomplish some of my wildest dreams. I’ve met some of my best friends here, I’ve started my career here. I’ve found m sanctuary here. And for that- I say thank you.

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IMG_1285Pro- tip:: When you sell all your furniture, take photos with your baby succulent name Phyliss against your wall. AND never forget- bloom where you’re planted.

Here’s to the future.
XOXO,
Gabriela

MAY IN REVIEW

May was a whirlwind-  I can’t even believe it’s almost over. I graduated college, bummed around and balanced my time between being productive and being lazy, eating ice cream and taking it easy.May in Columbia is the best because it’s not sticky and overwhelmingly hot- it’s bearable and for the most part actually enjoyable, and once school’s out, the city slows down. Southern summers aren’t so bad.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time on rooftops with my twin  Alexandra, who captured me in the photo above. But that’s not all I’ve been up to!

Here’s what I’ve been doing/ listening to/ watching this past month. Enjoy.

The Accessory:: Root Vegetable Head Scarf

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I got this scarf at Hip Wa Zee for $2 and almost puked! It has the sweetest root veggies on it- aka BEETS- aka the greatest vegetable there is. They’re the prettiest color, stain everything and taste like dirt- I get it. I paired the scarf with the heels I got for graduation, my favorite Topshop jeans, and a tank top and sunnies from Urban Outfitters. I wanted to keep the silhouettes of this look sleek to make sure the scarf popped. Red lipstick seemed like a natural choice.

The Cemetery:: Elmwood

IMG_6850I know a lot of people have a very hard time hanging out or visiting cemeteries, but for me they’re a place of peace, of reflection, of love and remembrance and honor. I’ve been spending sunny afternoons in Elmwood  Cemetery, with some tarot cards, my Book of Shadows, the song of the crows and sometimes some friends. Elmwood is huge- it’s 169 acres and was established in 1854. I’ve been to Elmwood alone plenty of times and have never been bothered- it’s peaceful, safe and a sanctuary that I never anticipated finding in Columbia. IMG_6628My beautitful, long lost triplet Amanda came to visit me from Charleston and we spent our afternoon basking under the sun. We read tarot and talked and laughed with Amelia of The Midheaven and Ivory of Forgotten Feather in what we realized is our newly formed coven- each of our astrological signs represent a different element, and our names even spell GAIA. Goddess Squad!

The Soundtrack:: True Widow

True Widow popped up on my Spotify Discover Weekly Playlist a couple weeks ago, and it’s probably the best thing to happen to me in a long, long time. True Widow is the dark, stoner rock I never knew I needed. I love having new music to dive into, especially if there are three albums worth of tunes to learn.

You know how sometimes you find music that sounds like the feelings you’re having?True Widow’s self-titled album does that for me- especially Flat Black. It makes me feel like I’m in some weird movie, and I love it. It’s a an auditory manifestation of all the feelings I’m feeling, and that’s pretty magical. 

 

The View:: The Quarry

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“The Quarry” is a magical place, somewhere deep in the woods of Columbia, South Caroline, where a (clay?) mine once was. And as horrible as this place is for Mama Earth, I can’t hep but admire the otherworldly beauty that it holds. I’ve only been here a couple of times, but each one has been special and magical, peaceful and relaxing- and slightly familiar. The vivid reds, lavenders and cerulean blues are overwhelming., as are the cliffs and acres of trees that surround the two biggest pools of water. It is truly incredible.

One of  my most unfounded childhood fears was my fear of quicksand- as if after a California rain, the sand at the playground would consume me whole. Thankfully I’ve never had to deal with this fear- until I was at the quarry and sunk hip deep into quicksand. Thankfully I knew that I wouldn’t go much farther, and that if you keep still it doesn’t keep pulling you down. After freaking out for a second, I regained my composure and pulled myself out- shoes and all.  Godspeed! IMG_6505IMG_6576You have to park and then wander to get to the quarry, and thankfully this is right where I parked my car. I’ve been watching Donnie Darko repeatedly over the past few weeks (see below) and this clearing with this couch and sick television is as close as I will get to having the field Donnie hangs out in.

The Movie:: Donnie DarkoIMG_6802

When I was 17 I was told to watch Donnie Darko– three times in a row if I could- and I did and I’ve been watching it obsessively since. The movie follows Donnie Darko, a suburban teenage boy, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who has to save the world from its end when a parallel universe occurs.IMG_6822

I always forget I have this movie on DVD, probably on purpose subconsciously, because once I remember I won’t watch anything else. I’ve watched Donnie Darko every day this past week with no regrets. I recently realized it’s my favorite movie- the only one I can watch over and over without getting sick of it. It always manages to put me in a weird mood. So if you haven’t watched it, don’t tell me that and watch it. And if you have watched it- watch it again. You’re welcome.

The Twilight Zone Episode:: Eye of the BeholderIMG_6629

Donnie Darko may be my favorite movie, but The Twilight Zone is easily my favorite show. One of the most amazing things about this show is the values and lessons it teaches- over 50 years later and the episodes are still relevant. Case in point- “Eye of the Beholder”, an episode that examines what it means to be beautiful- and why it’s all objective anyway. If you haven’t seen this famous episode, watch it! It rings especially true during a time when all politics seem to focus on is what separates us from one another.