Posted 13 hours ago

Thankful for my health today after spending over a week trying to recover from both a scratch on my back and an ingrown hair on my lip that wound up becoming staph infections.

This was an unexpected detour on my journey that could have had a much worse outcome. It has been one of those times that has forced me to take a step back and reflect on life. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to slow down and do so.

I owe so much to Junyuan (Sean), my most recent host, who ended up becoming a caregiver for me for the week. Hell, he drove back down to chicago from Deerfield to pick me up and bring me to the emergency room the day after dropping me off in chicago. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, he came back every day and was by my bedside holding my hand as I cried from the pain of the nurses cutting into my back and jamming packing strips into the incisions. He has done so much more than I can even begin to mention in this caption. I’m thankful for him.

Thank you to the doctors and nurses at Northwestern in downtown chicago for all the care and attention you gave to getting me back on my feet. Thank you for listening to my stories from 5YJ and sharing your own inspiring stories with me. Don’t forget— slow down and appreciate the world around you more. You can’t refill an empty cup from an empty cup. It’s impossible. Take some time to refill yourself, too.

Taking it easy now. Thanks to Kyle for letting me stay on his couch and letting his dog, Charlie look after me for a few days. Looking forward to a full recovery and continuing this journey. Thanks for all the love and support.

#5yj #chicago #staph #doctors #pain #love #medical #travel #people #health #thankful

Posted 4 days ago

It’s okay to slow down, take a step back, and regroup before moving forward. You know your limits.

Posted 5 days ago

Childhood wishes; adult realities.

#5yj #wishes #reality #blackandwhite

Posted 5 days ago

A View from Safety

#5yj #windows #safe #blackandwhite

Posted 5 days ago

"Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it." -Peter Pan

#5yj #peterpan #dreams #wishes #bebold #becourageous #daretodream #daretosacrifice

Posted 6 days ago

The Way to Life

#5yj #doors #blackandwhite #entrances #steps

Posted 1 week ago

No One Wins.

#5yj #chicago #war #gaza #people

Posted 1 week ago

As quickly as it began, it has ended.

Marco and I have mutually agreed to end our engagement. While we do share a very special connection that connection is better labeled as “friendship” than it is “marriage” or “husbands”. I have so much admiration and respect for him and the person he is and look forward to seeing how our friendship grows over time as I continue the journey.

This wasn’t an easy decision but we both feel it was the right one. Thank you all for all the love and support.

#5yj #chicago #love #friends #people #photography #blackandwhite #life

Posted 1 week ago

An Ended Engagement - Open Doors to the Future

After the party, I went and sat at the 24-hour Starbucks on North and Wells and thought about everything I had going on in my life at that moment - this journey that I’m on, the people that I’ve met, an engagement to someone that was looking more and more to not be that interested in me romantically after all, worries that I could end up in trouble for getting married to an undocumented (other than tourist visa) immigrant because on the outside of the situation it might look like we did it for the wrong reasons-for his citizenship and not for love, and a new book (among other things). I had a lot on my mind and was going to have to start answering some serious questions and fast. All of this with getting prepared to sleep in Lincoln Park again where I knew I would get little sleep and then get up and need to walk 4.5 miles up to Diana’s place for a shower and maybe a bite to eat, maybe. I am still not a fan of having to rely on people for food or to get by.

I stayed up working through my thoughts and then went to the park and slept for a bit. Marco had invited Diana and others to a World Cup party that Gonzalos was having at 3. They decided to not have a party and to instead just go to the beach and hang out with each other and I wasn’t invited for that. Diana and Carina were going to the beach on their own and invited me to come along, but I wasn’t in the mood. I had too much on my mind and instead just headed back to Diana’s, but not before messaging Marco and telling him that I would like to spend a day with him and just hang out with one another alone. He agreed and that was the last I heard from him for the day. 

The next day he sent me a message to say that we needed to talk, but that he couldn’t meet to talk then, because it was Monday and Mondays are super busy with his business stuff. So, I would need to wait until Tuesday to see him and talk, but even then it would be late on Tuesday. We messaged back and forth a bit on Monday - Long enough for me to figure out that he didn’t really have business plans for Monday night, but instead had a party to go to. Good times.  I stayed over with Diana on Monday and then on Tuesday I was supposed to meet and talk to Marco about whatever he wanted to talk about. He made time to meet me late in the evening on Tuesday night. I didn’t have any idea what he wanted to talk about, but I knew that he wanted to talk and not to meet at his place, but instead to meet in the park where he asked me to marry him. So, I knew that whatever we were talking about was going to be pretty serious or at least in my mind it meant that it would be pretty serious. 

I met up with him and he asked me what I thought about him getting a boyfriend. That was his question to me after asking me in that same park to get married to him a couple weeks earlier. Now his concern was that he wanted a boyfriend. Ummm, no. I was not happy at all. Not only had I agreed to marry him, but I talked very openly about the engagement and his asking me on social networks and on the 5-Year Journey website. Now he was putting me in the situation where I would have to back peddle on all of that and make myself look like a fool for agreeing to marry him in the first place. I was hurt and furious and all this guy cared about was if he could have a boyfriend without me getting upset. Now, I do need to say that we were not in love. I said that from the get go. We shared a connection and we were going to work to develop that connection into more, but we were not in love. I made sure to say that from the get go, but still this was going to be embarrassing to have to talk about after having gone out on a limb for this guy. When I voiced my concern about him having a boyfriend and my thoughts about how we had agreed that even tho we weren’t in love we were going to both work towards something more after being married and just to let things go naturally, he said that he thought I was different and that because I was on this journey that maybe I would be open to helping him with his citizenship, that I would be open to him having a boyfriend, and that he and I could still be friends. He then said that he didn’t think it was a good plan for us to get married since I wasn’t the guy that he thought I was. Wait. What? You bring me into this situation, put me at risk of getting in trouble with something that looks like an intentional plan to get you citizenship, let me write about it all publicly, and then tell me that I’m not the guy you thought I was. Fuck that. 

I told him that I wasn’t sure what I thought and that I wasn’t sure what to think about any of it. I voiced how it upset me that he would put me in this position and how it put me and this journey that I’m on at risk. I knew that this engagement would need to come to an end. I wasn’t feeling secure in it and I felt like I could possibly end up getting in a lot of trouble with being tied to the whole situation. I had a lot of thinking that I needed to do about how to work this all out. Even if we weren’t in love, I felt hurt and used in the situation. We agreed to figure this all out together. He invited me over to his place to discuss the situation and to sleep for a bit until his sister was set to arrive at 5am the next morning (about 3 hours of sleep). I did exactly that and then got up and went to Diana’s to take a shower. 

I have to say this now, because I feel it’s very important and needs to be said. I have absolutely nothing against immigrants in the United States, nothing! I don’t care if they are documented or undocumented, they are people. The way I look at it is that if we could live in a world without borders, I would love that. I wish there weren’t borders and I wish there weren’t laws that kept people separated or made it harder for people to travel and work in other parts of the world than where they were born. I know that some will think that I’m crazy that the thought of a world without borders is outlandish, but that is my wish and my opinion. Sadly, we don’t live in a world without borders. We live in a world divided up into continents and countries and then sometimes even further into territories (states, towns, cities, etc) within those countries. I feel that these borders sometimes keep us separated and makes it very difficult to come together as humanity. I don’t like it. I would rather live in a world where Marco could come to America and work and not have to worry about citizenship or the steps that it takes to become a citizen of that country. Sadly, we do not live in that world yet. We live in a place that depended on immigrants to build the country and make it a better place, but that still makes it difficult for other immigrants to come to that place that immigrants built. It is important to realize that when broken down, your ancestors were most likely at one point or another an immigrant from some place else entering into the country where you now live. My ancestors were immigrants and I believe that they probably had a much harder time entering this country than what they probably should have, but I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I am here today and I can say that the road to becoming a citizen in the United States (and many other countries) is much too difficult, especially for such a young country that was built quite honestly by the hands of immigrants and still today depends on immigrants to be the country that it is. It’s time for a change. I believe that with everything in me. 

Now, when I talk about the difficult times with Marco and adjusting to his family and them speaking Spanish instead of speaking English around me or I talk about how upset that I was that I felt used in the situation, those statements are thoughts or frustrations that I had in the situation I found myself in. They are not a representation in the slightest of how I feel about immigrants (documented or undocumented). When I talk about the possibility of getting in trouble for living in a place with people in the country on tourist visas and still working, I talk about that because that is a legitimate fear that I had in that situation. I have since found out that I could not get in trouble for living with them, however I could get in trouble if Marco and I had gotten married and if it was thought by a judge in court that we did so for the sole purpose of getting him citizenship. Again, I don’t agree with that. I don’t agree that Marco should get in trouble for being here and I don’t agree that it is right that I could get in trouble for marrying him. And not only do I not agree, I hate the fact that I could get in trouble for marrying someone that I shared a connection with and only because it might be thought that it was for the sole purpose of getting him citizenship. Have no doubt about it, I hate where we stand as a country with immigration. Was I frustrated in the situation with Marco and his family? Absolutely, but that has nothing to do with my thoughts on immigration or people coming to America from other countries. 

This situation was difficult. I wanted to scream and yell and be pissed at Marco. I wanted him to feel my pain and frustration. I wanted him to know what it was like for me to now have to figure out how I believed that there was a chance for more with him. I wanted him to know what it would feel like for me to now have to turn to the people who have been following my journey and to say that while I felt a certain way about the situation, he didn’t feel the same and that the engagement was now off. There was nothing that I could do that would make this easier on myself. Marco couldn’t help me now. I had to face this music and learn that while I love the people that I’ve met along the way and everything they’ve done for me on this journey, pleasing them with the stories from my journey or trying to force a happy ending to different situations I find myself in, is not something I can do. Life is not a fairytale written by the characters that live in it. Life is life and as much as we may believe we have control over the situations we find ourselves in, we don’t. That’s reality. Marco and I are not meant to be or we would be and that’s that. 

The next couple of days I would spend going between the 24-hour Starbucks, Lincoln Park, and Diana’s place for showers and sleep. I told Marco that I wanted to meet him. I told him that the fears that I had that I could end up in some pretty deep trouble with all of this and that I wanted to sit down and talk about those fears with him. He agreed that he would do anything I needed and that we would work through it and hopefully come out of the situation with a friendship. We met up that Thursday and he told me he understood everything and that he wanted me to write openly and honestly about the situation on the 5-Year Journey website and that he supported it 100%. He understood that maybe his intentions were wrong and that he made a mistake and he took full responsibility for that mistake. He knew that he hurt me and was sorry for doing so. 

The truth is that the hurt isn’t that bad as I sit here and write about it now. I needed time before I could talk about it and I’m thankful that Marco agreed to let me talk about it. I’m thankful not because it helps me feel less embarrassed about the situation, but it opens the doors to a much more important conversation. Marco is a great guy. I still believe that. He is doing what it takes to make the best out of life for himself and his family. Maybe he did have the wrong intentions with me, but we are all human and right now I believe that at the end of the day, we make choices that we feel are best for us. That’s not an immigrant thing, that’s a human thing. Marco deserves to be in America or anywhere else as much as myself or anyone else does. We are all human. Every last one of us, we are all human. “American” is a label, “Mexican” is a label, “Chinese” is a label…I, nor you, nor anyone else is defined by the label that is placed on us by what part of the world we live in. We are all here for a reason and we all have a purpose regardless of the part of the world we come from. I am a human being and I will ALWAYS stand side by side with other human beings to do what is right and hopefully ensure that ALL humans are treated equal with the same opportunities as any other human regardless of the label placed on them. I would do anything I could to help Marco, not because we connected, but because he is a human. He hurt me, but he’s not a bad person for that. I have hurt people with choices I’ve made and where I wish that some of those people could forgive me, I forgive Marco.

I had a lot of feelings to work through before I could sit down and write this. I don’t know that I could have sat down and wrote this the day it all happened. It wouldn’t have been a good plan. I was too tied up with the emotions of it. I needed the time to figure out exactly what I thought and what I felt. I wrote some and found myself still hurting from it and maybe saying some things that could be (and were) taken wrong by some. So the best plan of action was to take some time and figure it all out and go about it in a mature manner. The mature thing to do is to forgive and then to look at the situation and figure out what the lesson in it is, learn it, and then pass on what I learned or how I felt. 

Shortly after everything happened with Marco, someone reached out to me (another immigrant - like you and I) and wanted to meet. He heard about the journey and he wanted me to know that he believed in me and what I was doing and that I was inspiring him. He took me to eat dinner (at this point I was surviving on a bagel and some coffee that I had had earlier that morning…Diana and Carina have offered to give me food when needed, but I still feel really bad about it.) and Elly’s in Chicago near Lincoln Park and went on a walk with me. It was pretty sweet of him to do. Not just because he spent money on me, but because he took the time out to come and meet and spend some time with me. That speaks volumes. He wanted me to know that while this journey isn’t always so easy, there are still people that are being inspired by it and he is one of them. 

I have fought so hard to not make this a project. I don’t want it to be a project. If I say it’s a project it’s because people believe it to be a project and I am over trying to correct it. I am just a person who wants to meet people, see places, have experiences, and share from that all with photos and writing. I am a selfish asshole. I have no qualms admitting that. I know it’s truth. 5YJ too often is held to the standards of a project with rules and guidelines to follow when in reality, I have none. I am just a person that is choosing to go with the flow and go wherever this journey takes me, if it takes me anywhere at all (it already has…more through personal growth than travels, but it is what it is. It is what it is meant to be.). And, I just so happened to find myself engaged and then not engaged within a matter of a couple of weeks while being on this journey and the person that I found myself engaged to what happened to be an immigrant that primarily wanted citizenship from the marriage. I lived through that experience. I learned from it. I forgave in it. I worked through the feelings. Now, after taking some time to gather my thoughts , I have written about it.

Thank you to everyone that allowed me to have time and space to gather my thoughts without jumping to conclusions about what I was trying to say or do. Thank you to everyone who showed love and support during this time while I worked to get to the point that I was emotionally ready to write this without still being mad at Marco or frustrated in the situation that I found myself in. Thank you to everyone that has stuck it out with me as I continue this journey even if you haven’t always agreed with what I was saying or doing. You knew that I was only human and didn’t hold me to some ridiculous standard. I appreciate that.

This isn’t a project. Yes, I am on a journey and yes I am sharing stories and what I learn as I go, but it’s not about living up to some standard or expectation. It’s about a guy on a journey doing his best to learn and grow and to share what he learns from the experiences along the way. I don’t do this to collect numbers - followers, money, etc. I do this because I want to grow and become a better person, not by anyone else’s standard, but by my own.

I could let ending this engagement get to me. I could let it break me down and I could let it stop the journey, but I refuse. There is still so much good in the world to experience. There are still so many great people to meet and so many great places to see. This journey isn’t done. I’m only almost 7 months into it and more excited than ever to get out there and see what else happens along the way. I can’t wait! 



Posted 1 week ago

Finally!!! 😳😁😜