Dunking on safety all day every day

Biked to the park to kick it with my friend Ernesto one day last spring. He and I created an awesome friendship through what started as an English/Spanish trade.

We catch up about anything and everything and have lots of time to go deep with around 2-hours a week carved out to chat, more time than I spend with any other friends or fam besides my wife sin duda (“no question” in Spanish 💫)

He is just about the nicest and most humble person I’ve ever met, and until recently was working in Tucson as a post-doc researcher on projects related to the DNA makeup of mushrooms and how they can be useful in other ways (something like that). Sorry if I butchered that, Ernesto!

We talk about 90’s NBA (Godzilla VS Barkley, etc), maté, food, and mostly just life in general. He always asks how my mom and dad are every time we chat (they’ve never met). His wife is a ridiculously dope artist and they are just an incredible rad combo to get to be around.

This spring day’s convo started like any other. We caught up in general for 20-minutes or so until he said: “Tengo noticias” (I have news). He shared that he and his wife are moving to Italy in a couple of months! Just the most humble dude ever hanging on to this news and not leading with it (my brain can’t compute!)—love learning from his humility and chill.

It’s been a tough decision for them for all the hardest reasons: jobs, money, family, and accepting joy. The “safe” route would be staying in Tucson for 2 more years at a job he doesn’t like, stacking more $, then making the move. Another “safe” option moving back to Argentina and planning a move to Italy sometime in the distant future.

They know it will be harder to make the move if they go back home first, given they’ve already downsized and are mentally ready to go now. So they decided to follow their hearts and leave for Italy in a couple of months!

Maybe this plan is even safer?

He’s super wise and laughs about supposed safety. Is it not safer, and healthier (mental health = physical health) to make the move and be happy? He can be very direct as I’ve noticed with other folks not from the U.S., only partially jokingly explaining if they stayed they’d just have to spend all the extra money they’re saving on therapy anyways. So maybe it’s safer for their long-term health to do what feels like the most heartbeat decision right now.

Some basic safety does exist for them in Italy. She is a citizen so they can both work. So this stuff is not not a part of the decision, it’s just not the only part of the decision.

Their plan involves borrowing some money from family in case they need a bit of cushion. They are openly accepting this offer and I’d argue this as another huge diss to regular, individualistic barriers we put in front of making dope moves. We tend to feel like we need to do things all ourselves but why wait? Pride? The money is there. It’s being offered. Why say no when you really want to say yes.

He talked about it being their duty to accept this offer. To enjoy life, to put egos in check, and accept help. What a diss it would be to the millions of folks dealing with life’s challenges around the globe for someone with the ability to live a dream to deny it!

Why let something as insignificant as money interrupt changing your life? I use insignificant in comparison to things like dreams, love, potential, our paths, art; as in this case, food will be on the table either way. They’re both super capable hustlers and will no doubt find work soon. I’ve offered to help them get some groceries if they need them, and I’m sure you have friends who would do this for you too.

To me, that is real wealth, and I felt this when our good bud B-Hill in Detroit took me and my friend in during a cross-country road trip. Things were getting a bit more challenging on the road. We woke up in NOLA realizing we weren’t accomplishing as much as we hoped—stuck in a cycle of sleeping in the van, sleeping at couch surfing spots, spending our money making our hosts breakfasts, spending our money meeting people at bars, and feeling kinda burnt out.

So we made the call up to Detroit and he offered us a parking spot at his house. We did the drive in a couple of days and knew we were close when we hit the first Tim Hortons in Ohio. My friend did the ordering and we ate mini donuts like chips for the last couple of hours of the trip.

We pulled up in his driveway and the first thing we did after a few minutes of hugs and laughs was take an all-expense-paid trip to the grocery store. We filled the cart like a family moving into a new home, excited to live and cook together. It felt so normal at the time, and in hindsight, it’s been one of my favorite examples of the power of crew—of what’s really real y’all. What safety and collective love and trust can look like against all the pressures of individualism and capitalism.

He stocked his fridge, put us up in bedrooms, let us set up in his studio, and we arguably accomplished much more staying in one space with fam than we had staying in rando parking lots around the Southern USA. We put aside the “safety” of our ego, pride, and plans and it 100% worked out for the better. We gave ourselves up to the creW.

adriene marie brown speaks to crew support on one of the earlier episodes of the Octavias Parabales podcast. She talks about all of the houses she has access to across the world and explains how her home in Detroit is on this list too. She and her crew all know where to find the hidden keys, access food, money, car keys. Everything they might need to survive.

Where buying a house can seem like and usually is one of the most individualistic things we do, I abso love this idea and feel like it’s a further playing out of the power of crew I witnessed in Detroit. And these are pro-ass humans—so I don’t imagine there’s constantly a friend sleeping on their couch, using their car, and eating their food. It’s a backstop and safety precaution for situations we never thought we’d actually see pre-2020.

Y’all down? Our spare key is under Bojuska (if you know, you know). Where’s yours?

Isn’t it all the same in the end (and in the morning)?

Sis with lots of cash is probably safe, fed, and housed. Odds are they’re having a coffee sometime after waking up. Folks with less money or those who are open to relying on crew or fam when needed are probably safe, fed, and housed. Also having coffees before navigating their day. Both are doing what they need to do to survive. Both may even be pretty happy. This is absolutely OK.

Alternative safety so often has the smaller voice and is looked at as wrong, lazy, unjust, and trivial. This focus on dreams and joy VS basic capitalism doesn’t need to be seen as lesser. We can follow our path, accept help, offer help, enjoy life, and still live and die just the same as any Scrooge McDuck MF in a pool of cash.

In Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott writes, “If you want to know about how god feels about money, look at whom she gives it to.” Lots of great folks, but lots of wack folks. All paths come with their own sets of issues. Shoutout to repping our path beyond pleasing capitalism.

If it is the same in the end (coffee, life, death)—why not try joy?

Having a coffee in Italy on slightly lower funds than sipping one in Tucson. Excited about the possibility of new work VS the inevitability of work you’re not psyched about.

What do we want to be thinking about while walking the dog, driving, eating, waking up? What choices are we making for safety and security and what do these words mean to us? What’s the safest thing to do right now in terms of health (mental and physical)?

How could any safety and security that doesn’t contribute to better health really exist? Is there an amount of money we could lose in tandem to improved health that would be concerning?

A quick update: my friends made it to Italy and have been there for about a month. It’s not easy, but they found a really dope little house in a small town that’s a short train ride from a beautiful beach and both of their jobs. And my dude Ernesto still even has time for a weekly chat (which totally caught me off guard)! Dang they’re dope and isn’t it just the coolest to witness friends living their dreams?

Hint hint.