I’m sitting at the bar. There is a special event going on at this restaurant I frequent. This neighborhood I live in is filled with musicians, vegetarians, artists. I’ve heard some people refer it as the Berkeley of the East Coast. In any case, it reminds me of home in many ways. People bike through the streets lined with bungalow-style homes. The faces I see are diverse in styles and colors and smiles.
The women singing now both have deep alto voices and harmonize well together. I’ve sat at this seat many times before, but in different places, in other people’s hometowns, in my own hometown.
I thought I could so this. But as the weeks pass, I’m finding it’s harder than I thought it’d be. I don’t want my pride to stop me from going back. I left home to follow my heart, but managed to forget it back there.
I keep having to remind myself that every person’s story will be different. That I don’t have to pressure myself into sitting at many different seats, at similar counters, listening to similar voices and stories. I don’t have to sit here if I don’t want to. I can sit wherever I want. And where I want is at home.
I had a dream about you last night. We were both at a beach town filled with tourists. Something like I’d imagine Coney Island to be like. But it was tropical in some ways. There were many people there, a lot of them in groups. A lot of young people and teenagers. I was with my best friend, and you were with your best friend. I accidentally sent you a message, then tried to undo it because I was embarrassed. Then in an act of bravery, I decided to say “Fuck it,” ultimately letting you know that I was interested in you. You responded in the best way that you could, and I spent the rest of my time on the island walking around, trying to find you so you could fall in love with me. I would see you from afar for brief moments. But I never found you. I’m not sure if you were trying to find me. But, we never found each other. Then I woke up.
Dreams are odd. Sometimes they are so vivid and real, like last night’s. Then sometimes we strain our brains so hard trying to remember. Other times we are going on, living in reality and suddenly it’s familiar, like we were already in that moment in time, and you feel, “Oh, I think I’ve dreamed that before.” And they sometimes can feel like they last for days or weeks, but really they’re just brief moments you have formed, lasting within the bounds of touching your pillow to your head, until something inside or outside your sleep stops it. To think, I dreamt this scene, and those feelings for you, and felt that happiness and mischievousness, all in the same night I also dreamt of floating in the sea with my baby niece, becoming best friends with my sister, and weeping for my father. They were all just brief moments within my mind, and yet when I remember them now, in reality, they mean so much to me. So much that, I sometimes wake up crying. Like last night. I woke up sobbing because my mind didn’t know where the dream ended and reality began. I often find that a problem.
So much for a post, a week, right? I’m not going to beat myself up too much. I started a third post weeks ago, but couldn’t find my voice or a message so I opted out. Now I’ve found myself in a mood today, so what better way to piece together my thoughts, hopes, and fears from the past four weeks than with a therapeutic writing sesh.
Many small things have happened during this short hiatus. I’ve been consistently giving myself manicures, which is always a positive. I was able to visit NG’s Magazine division to see where they design the layout of each issue (April’s edition looks very promising). I’ve been cooking a lot, which has been healing for my soul as much as it has been for my bank account. I’ve been adjusting to this *real* autumn weather which is incredibly beautiful and wonderful, but at the same time, I’m not sure how I feel about the many hours I’ve drooled away thinking about microplush blankets, fleece socks, and hot pumpkin-infused beverages. I’ve attended an intimate meeting with the Vice President of Research, Conservation, and Exploration and essentially pitched potential television programming that I’ve been thinking about for the past six years to which he positively responded and will probably end up taking credit for. Yes, just a few things have happened during the past four weeks of this new life of mine. Most of all, I’ve touched on larger ideas about life, death, and purpose in just the past week alone.
With my time interning at Nat Geo almost halfway over, I can now confirm that post-graduation life is, in fact, as confusing as it ever was. A part of me yearns to be reunited with the West Coast as I see one of my oldest friend’s growing belly and realize I have no idea at what month in age I’ll be able to hold her little boy. There is another part of me that wonders if I’m selling out my adventurous spirit by applying to office jobs assisting people with very small perspectives of the world. These are the kinds of things that I sit at my desk thinking about, and even sometimes quietly cry about, as I consolidate data and make tables of information I’ve been researching. These are the kinds of things that have put me into this mood. What am I supposed to do…?
Most people don’t know, but my middle name is Jane. Usually most are surprised by that, and the only reason I don’t really mention it is because it doesn’t serve any other purpose than being a filler. It also ruins the alliterative power of the hard ‘K’ sounds of my first and last names. I won’t bore you with the etymology of Jane like I did with the rest of my name from my first post, but I will say that my plain Jane name reminds me that I am just a person. I can be just this anonymous Jane and not have the weight of the world on my shoulders every moment of the day. I don’t have to feel like I am entering a trap of society’s restraints and what they expect from me. I can alternate from following my heart and playing my part within the grand scheme. I don’t mind putting on the suit and tie because I can strip it off at the end of the day, or at any moment for that matter. I am only human. We are only human. So we might as well be a little bit more forgiving.
Since there’s never been a lullaby or love song written about a beautiful girl named Kim, I’ve always had an affinity for the classic song, ‘Sweet Jane’ written by one of the greatest guys to ever put pen to paper. I’ve been listening to it since yesterday morning on repeat, so there it is below for you too.
You know that women never really faint,
and that villians always blink their eyes,
that children are the only ones who blush
and that life is just to die.
But anyone who ever had a heart
they wouldn’t turn around and break it.
And anyone who ever played a part,
they wouldn’t turn around and hate it.
I may as well start off by explaining what it is that I’m doing in DC. I majored in Geography in college, met a fantastic professor that mentioned an internship at National Geographic’s Headquarters, applied for said internship during my last year of college, got it, bought a one-way ticket, and moved across the country.
Now before you ask me what kind of camera I shoot with, I will tell you that, yes, I have a beautiful, fancy Cannon DSLR, but I couldn’t tell you the model off the top of my head and unfortunately, I barely know how to use it. I am not an aspiring photographer, but I guess I can share some personal photos from my travels on this site from time to time. I am interning with National Geographic’s Education Programs Division—no it’s not Nat Geo film, Nat Geo television, or Nat Geo’s beloved Magazine. Oh yeah, I’m a geographer…oh nope, not in their Maps Division either. I applied to the NG Education Foundation, which is an organization within the larger entity of NG that funds programs for K-12 geography-related education in North America. It is non-profit work, and I sit at a large desk in a gray cubicle and attempt to learn about all that goes into running an organization that young girls and boys all across the country depend on.
Forgive me if I don’t sound enthusiastic about my workspace—I was actually thoroughly impressed with my desk, various lamps, giant Dell screen, walls covered in old maps, and lockable drawers. My biggest disappointment is that my placard with my name on it hasn’t come in yet, and I’m beginning to doubt if it ever will. I have an extension, a Nat Geo email, a chair if I have visitors! It’s all very… grown up—which is exciting at the same time horrifying, since the days of yore visiting my mom’s cubicle as a little girl still freshly linger in my memory.
Of course, it is a huge accomplishment to have been selected to participate in this four-month internship, but the biggest part of it all has been actively removing myself from my environment and all that I’ve ever known. Sure, I have done a fair amount of traveling. However the 2,698 miles I put between my little green room in Long Beach, California, and the old, brick house I now live in—to say the least—has been the most large scale action I’ve ever done. As a little girl, I dangerously followed my imagination—there was never a day I didn’t have dreams in my eyes. I made elaborate plans of having fabulous things, living in New York City, traveling the world with someone tall, dark and handsome. But being a wildly creative child, then growing into an adolescent, then reluctantly into a level-headed adult… all the while being pinned to my life’s map in one geographic location for 23 consecutive years, well? I guess it’s only natural for a person to doubt if picking up, leaving, and living in another place was actually plausible. But here I am. For Christ’s sake, I rode my bike passed the White House this morning! (It’s much smaller than I imagined, by the way. I mean, the Fresh Prince house most likely puts it to shame. Really?) I digress. Here I am, with my path paved in a pretty incredible way… headed right into the eyes of a nine-year-old girl.
I don’t know what’s next. I have a multitude of aspirations including but not limited to: getting a pilot’s license, writing children’s books, large-scale event planning, lecturing for a few courses at universities, somehow granting access to food to every living person suffering from hunger and poor health among the seven billion (and growing) population of Mother Earth—you know, your basic pageant queen aspirations. I would love to spend a few years gaining some work experience before thinking of going to Graduate school. Maybe live in another big American city. Travel more. I keep remembering what a past co-worker and dear friend told me during our last happy hour together—“This isn’t the biggest move of your life, it’s just the first.” I’m not sure where I’ll spend Christmas this year, but I know that I owe it to my childself to not be so fearful of this uncertainty. What would you say to yourself if you met nine-year-old you? Would she be left feeling hopeful? Excited? Disappointed? I guess that’s somewhat of a loaded question… Instead of giving myself anxiety over it, I’d like to think I’d just unroll a map on the floor, giggle over stories of places we’ve been, and ask her, “Where to next?”
I’ve been postponing this for weeks, months depending on how hard you want to judge me. I kept a fairly consistent journal as a preteen, but for whatever reason it’s been difficult for me to commit to one since then. I tried beginning one when I took a month-long trip to my family’s home country after eleven years of separation. An inspirational journey to rediscover my roots. To reconnect with my people. All I needed to do was write a log for my future grandchildren to read, maybe assist them with their inevitable experiences and confusion in understanding their cultural identity? Sure. I wrote half an entry.
A few nights ago, I went out with my new roommate who is here in the DC metropolitan area from Chicago, in school for a Masters in Journalism. I told her I wanted to be a writer, what should I do? Her half-drunken eyes smirked at me and told me, “Just write.” So here I am narrating the thoughts I’ve had over and over for the past two years. What next? There’s so much to say about what I yearn to discover about myself and my story, but I will try. I will write about my destiny, although I’m still not sure what it is. I’ll introduce you to my history as I also reacquaint myself with ancestral knowledge I can feel but don’t know myself. I’ll invite you into the spaces and places I inhabit and tell the story of how they have shaped my life.
My name is Kimberly. From what I have read from various magnets and bookmarks from years of trivial gifts and prizes, it roughly translates to ‘woodland clearing’ having originated from England. I also know from basic Google research that a place in South Africa also shares my name. My last name is Conchada, a more obvious connection to the word ‘concha’ meaning seashell in various Romance languages. The spelling with a ‘d’ instead of a ‘t’ connotes that it is most likely a Portuguese name and not a Spanish one. European is definitely not the first thing I’d use to describe myself, although I suppose I could bore you by tracing back for a few generations. Don’t worry, I will eventually… in a future post. I’m not South African either, and I doubt any of my ancestors were from Portuguese-speaking Latin America. I’m actually a young American girl, born and raised in California. My parents were both born and raised in Tagalog regions of the Philippines. Aside from my fascination with world languages, I don’t speak Portuguese, I don’t speak Spanish, I don’t speak Tagalog, and sometimes I question whether or not I can actually speak English. I studied German for a little over four years, although I don’t believe I could hold a normal conversation in that language either. I’ve also failed at studying and learning Japanese, French, and American sign language. Nice to meet you, my name is Kimberly Conchada from California, and I only speak English. Go figure. You can call me Kim, if that subconsciously makes you like me more.
So, why on earth have I rambled for a blog-and-a-half about languages, you ask? I’m not quite sure. But I do know that a name is a powerful thing. And words are little treasures of history and power whether or not we recognize them as such. There are so many ways in which you could dissect my name, study the parts that make up the whole: where did this part come from, and how does this part complement that part in this way? Why? So many different parts of my name found its origins from so many different spaces and places in the world. I guess in the same way, this idea reflects my person. Chop it up. Dissect this part and that part. There is so much to discover in a name. There is so much to discover in a place. There is much to discover in my person.
This is the beginning of my journey. Understanding how the name I was given or the place I was born has shaped my destiny in peculiar ways are just two parts in it. As for now, feel free to join me in my attempt to find my insides. Eventually, I hope you can sit down one day and attempt to do the same for yourself.