I came to Berkeley to hear Cathy Park Hong interview Ocean Vuong. It’s a free event, first come, first serve, and I thought that getting here 2 hours early would be okay. 2 hours early had a line all the way around the block of the BAMPFA Center. I almost decided to just keep driving and go home, but then I parked 3 blocks away and waited in the line until they said all the tickets were gone. I talked with some people in line and felt proud of so many humans showing up to listen to some beautiful, brilliant, literary humans on a rainy, windy Spring Thursday afternoon.

I then walked around for a while noticing and feeling a bit sad about how many restaurants were shut down.

I found a cute, cozy chai place having a grand opening and went inside. All the seats were taken, but I thoroughly enjoyed waiting in line and paying $8 for my 8oz. Karak Chai with eliachi syrup.

It wasn’t the best chai I’ve ever had, but it’s true like their sign said…I’ve never had chai like that before. The man who poured my chai and pronounced my name A-bee (like A B C) showed me how lifting the pot high above the cup made more foam. I loved all the people working there, all the people sitting in all the seats, and even the people talking super loudly and smoking near the outdoor seats.

As I walked around, the chai kept spilling because I had opted out of a lid trying to feel good about myself for not using plastic. I ended up deciding to part with my sweet, beloved chai when it was still half full. I got what I needed from it. I left it on top of the trash can in case someone wanted to enjoy it, despite the lipstick stains on the cup. I am so impressed with myself that I put on lipstick and eyeliner to go out on a Thursday afternoon.

The most heartwarming thing that happened to me today was that a bank security guard ran across the sidewalk to help me put my coat on. I was struggling to find the other sleeve while holding my umbrella and chai in one hand. He ran up and held the other sleeve for me to put it on saying, “I got you.” That really touched my heart.

It wasn’t the afternoon I expected, but it was beautiful, poignant and buoyed my faith in humanity.

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