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The plans made it out of the group chat

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AUGUST 10, 2023

I can’t tell if I’m the luckiest person in the world because these are some of the greatest friends I’ve made or if this is a dream — and I’ll wake up to find out this had been too good to be true. Until then, I’ll revel in everything these friendships have to offer. 

Ideas live forever. In the same way that every search history, status update or Instagram post is made on the internet and becomes a part of the intangible repository of information that tracks us, memories can be made to last. 

I recently returned from a Bay Area trip with a few hometown friends I hadn’t seen since cheering them on at their college graduations months ago. Since 2021, we’ve longed for a trip to backpack through Seattle together, but the timing and planning was unfortunately never right. The idea of a Seattle trip persisted in our group chat, but the conversation would open up only to be lost in a flood of messages when someone had something urgent to share (it’s okay, we love the drama). 

Despite our spontaneous decision to finally plan the Seattle trip, we found it was too expensive only two weeks out. I offered my place in Berkeley for a Bay Area staycation instead, and in some bittersweet way, I’m so glad we went with this option. 

Spontaneity has always been at the forefront of our friendship dynamic and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our staycation in Berkeley and traveling through San Francisco reminded me about how our relationships formed and how they’ve changed; still, they’ve remained low maintenance, timeless and enriching. 

My favorite moments during this staycation weren’t revisiting Pier 39 or seeing Ghirardelli Square for the first time. It was showing my friends who all attended school in Southern California around. I don’t know what was more interesting to watch unfold: watching one friend defeatedly manhandle a sourdough clam chowder bowl because he broke every fork or seeing my friends experience the BART for the first time (and they truly saw everything the BART had to offer). Regardless, I loved every moment I could have shared with my friends and observed how our shared Bay Area experience was lived.

This trip felt like a fever dream that also served as a precious reminder about how these friends were quintessential to the support and experiences that have led me here — a Berkeley transfer student. 

Our group chat has been active since 2019. These friends have patiently listened to my frustrations, my doubts and my pessimism, taking in my negativity without pushing me away when I felt like I was at my lowest and unfulfilled with life’s events. My plans to transfer schools continually cycled through endless rants and messages of denial and agitation with the process. Finally showing them what my life at Berkeley is like felt like a full circle moment. This trip was for them, not me. 

Until next time (or my graduation, that is), the pleasure has been mine. Our plans finally made it out of the group chat. 

Contact Deric Lai at 


AUGUST 10, 2023