Baby JOHN WAS MY ROOMMATE FROM MARCH 2019-APRIL 2020 and he is quite the character.

Baby John

We attended Cal State Long Beach together and When I was looking for a roommate, He had asked to come check out the room. When I met him at the house to show him the available room, he showed up with a car full of his belongings and started to move things in. it was pretty unexpected, but Baby John is pretty unpredictable and he wasn't a stranger so I just kind of let it happen. When the lockdowns started, I learned that living with someone so unpredictable was actually the best case scenario.

John's Choo-Choo Train

Shortly after we moved into the house, I came home from work to find this toy being displayed on one of the side tables next to the living room couch. At first I was a little put off about John wanting to show off his childhood toy, but I learned to love the Baby John train. I wanted him to feel at home and if that gave him comfort, then I was cool with it. It was quirky and strange, and very John.
The first couple of weeks of lockdown were pretty hard for me and Baby John. Our lease was ending and our landlord didn't seem to understand or care that finding a new living arrangement in a pandemic was going to be very costly, dangerous and difficult. we had never been late on rent and hadn't caused any problems, so We asked for a 2 month extension, but she wanted us out of the house. I was stressed, frustrated, scared and worried, and could not focus on anything constructive. 

The Silva Street Neighborhood Watch

My then-girlfriend, Aiyana, had been quarantining with us and suggested we start to go on photo walks around the neighborhood to clear my head. I had my digital camera, but she encouraged me to take on a new project, so I bought the Instax Mini. This was the first photo I took. 
When I was younger, I would buy books and cds based on how cool I thought the cover designs were.

Russian River's Velvet Glow Pale Ale Bottle

In the early days of lockdown, Our local liquor store started selling their single bottles of craft beer at a fraction of the original cost to try and get rid of their stock before it went bad, so I spent a lot of time looking at label designs. I started buying beer based on their label design instead of by style of beer. This gave me a new appreciation for how graphic design could be applied to every day products. 
After a lot of discussion and consideration, it looked like my best option was to move into AIyana's apartment in Sacramento. Baby John was forced to pick the first apartment he could afford and see over a zoom call and we let our friends and family know what was happening. I wasn't sure when I would see my parents again after I moved, so Aiyana and I decided to celebrate Easter with them. She loves to bake and made a german chocolate cake for my dad and a lemon curd cake for my mom as a farewell gift.

Cake Ingredients

We collected the lemons from a neighbor's house and bought the eggs from a local restaurant who purchased their ingredients from local farms and wanted to make sure they were still being supported. The rest of the ingredients were purchased at the closest open grocery store. 
For the first time in my life, I was moving out of Long Beach. My Aiyana's apartment was pretty small, so I really needed to lighten my load. While prepping for the move, I found several keepsakes I had been holding on to, but didn't want to take with me. So I made sure to get them on film.
bar Napkin from 2016 New York
One of them was this bar napkin from my first trip to New York City in 2016. I was there for a college journalism conference with my friends Andrew and Alex. We had a little too much to drink one night and started to have some deep conversations about the future. We each wrote down our future goals on bar napkins and said we would get together again after graduation to see what we had achieved. Only one of mine kind of came true: I didn't go to him, I went to her, but the intention is the same. I never moved to Brooklyn, My career was still a bunch of question marks, and I haven't really profited on anything.
The list of goals wasn't why I had kept the napkin, but it always reminded me of that first trip to New York. I'm still really close to Andrew and his napkin list didn't really come true either, but it's nice to look back on that trip and remember where we wanted to go and how grateful we are for what we have now.
Luke's Diner Coffee Cup
This is another old keepsake from 2016. Pop-up food events started to gain popularity during that time, and Andrew and I stood in a 6-hour line at Fox Coffee House for a Luke's Diner paper coffee cup. The tv show "Gilmore Girls" was one of the things that brought us together as friends, so we were happy to wait all day for something like this.
One of the more surprising things about baby john was that he had a bit of a green thumb. Without consulting our landlord, he decided to plant sunflowers in our front and back yards so he could harvest sunflower seeds and use their petals to make sunflower tea. but we had a surplus and would often just cut some to brighten up the house.

Sunflowers and Cotati mug

At a certain point during lockdown, Aiyana and I talked about getting married in the future and started playing with ideas of how to decorate and what we wanted to include. Sunflowers are her favorite, so Baby John's flowers helped us figure out the florals. We got together at the 2019 Cotati Oktoberfest, so the mug was pretty special to us too.
One of the things I struggled to come to terms with was leaving my home town. I struggle with change in general and Leaving my old haunts for a new city that I hadn't really explored was terrifying.

One of my favorite beers from Ambitious Ales

Ambitious Ales was the newest brewery in my old neighborhood. But before it was a brewery, it was a neighborhood staple---Tuttles Camera Shop. I BOUGHT AND SOLD MY FIRST CAMERA at Tuttles. My heart broke when it closed. The owners of Ambitious Ales recognized how important Tuttles was to the community and kept the sign above the store up to honor it. EVERY TIME I'M IN TOWN, I TRY TO STOP BY AND GRAB SOME BEER OR MERCH FROM AMBITIOUS ALES. THEY'VE BECOME ONE OF MY FAVORITE BREWERIES AND I WILL ALWAYS HAVE A SOFT SPOT FOR THEM.


The house we lived in was in a pretty nice neighborhood on a 0.27 acre lot that backed up to a set of train tracks. 0.27 acres doesn't sound like a lot, but for a Long Beach suburb it's huge. Our landlord never maintained the backyard so the tall grass made it look like the house was abandoned. when we were packing to move out, a couple of friends in our quarantine bubble came over to help us move and wanted to explore the backyard. To our surprise, we found thriving grape vines growing along the back fence.
Kate is one of my oldest friends. If you knew us in high school, you would never have guessed that we would have remained friends. in the 5 or so years pre-pandemic, Kate and I had become extremely close and saw each other at least once a week. Moving out of Long Beach meant leaving behind one of my best friends. 
Luckily, Aiyana is her sister's best friend so she'll never be rid of me.

Caged Kate

Behind the house were large adult-sized metal cages that I'm pretty sure were used for dogs before we moved in, but as soon as Kate spotted them she jumped in and told me to take her with me to Sacramento.  I didn't, but we still talk every day so it's fine.
Throughout the first few weeks of living in Sacramento with AIyana, I was a mess. I knew I was getting laid off from my job soon, our roommates were nice but a little stand-offish so I felt like i was walking on eggshells around them, and for the first time in my life I was living outside of my hometown. She was the only person I knew in Sacramento.

Paint day with AIyana

I still don't have a lot of friends here, but the day we sat together to paint greeting cards for our friends in Long Beach was the day I realized that everything would be okay. When I look at this photo, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have such a wonderful life partner. She was my girlfriend then and my wife now, but I will always feel lucky to have someone who is so patient with me when my depression starts to spiral.
Music has always been a big part of my life. During undergrad, I started collecting vinyl records but at some point my record player broke and I just never replaced it. I would go to small concert venues to get my live music fix and Baby John had a record player, so if I wanted to listen to one of my records, I would just use his.
Pre-pandemic, I never really bought anything for myself other than food and necessities, but Aiyana encouraged me to splurge on a fancy record player in order to get back into record collecting. If I couldn't go to a live show, a decent record player and speaker system was the next best thing.

First spin of the newest Rudy De Anda record

Once our roommates had moved out and it was just the two of us, we took to listening to records and dancing in the kitchen like we were living in our very own indie movie.

If you look closely, you'll see a moth

When the weather was nice, Aiyana and I would take afternoon and evening walks around our neighborhood. One of the first things I noticed was how different the flowers were in public spaces compared to the ones in long beach. I started to really gain an appreciation for the city and what it had to offer.

Mystery Painting

The park near our apartment always had something going on. Food trucks, teens lighting off firecrackers in the middle of the night, kids and adults playing basketball, and on occasion, a painting someone was trying to get rid of. Maybe Sacramento wasn't so different after all.
When my 30th birthday hit, I was pretty depressed about not being able to celebrate with my friends. Leaving my 20s felt like a really big deal to me at the time and I swear that I felt my bones start to weaken and my back start to hurt. 
At the time, I was really into playing animal crossing and dressing like my animal crossing character. My favorite piece of clothing was a button-up watermelon shirt that looked just like the summer exclusive one in the game.

Watermelon claws mean there are no laws

Because of my obsession with watermelons, Aiyana made me a giant watermelon cake that i ate while drinking watermelon white claw to stay on theme. It turned out to be one of my favorite birthdays.
As the stay-at-home orders started to loosen in July, 2021, we started exploring more of Sacramento. One of our first outdoor public dining experiences was at a local gastropub called Lowbrau.
Lowbrau's outdoor patio during sunset
The restaurant staff was good about mask and sanitation guidelines, but their tables were placed a little too close together for comfort which made social distancing difficult. But the beer was cheap, the food was good and the sunset was nice.

Jazzy at Lowbrau

Jazzy is AIyana's oldest friend. During that first pandemic summer, Jazzy was stuck in Rohnert Park, California by herself so we asked to stay with us for a bit. We had a guest room and knew that it would be nice to spend some time with a friendly face. 


For Jazzy's roommate's Birthday, we drove out to her apartment in Rohnert Park for a little celebration. She wanted a tiny dinosaur piñata so we got her a tiny dinosaur piñata.  
We got really into hiking that summer. Jazzy Has an auto-immune disorder and even though lockdowns guidelines were starting to relax, we didn't have a lot of options.

This photo was taken by precariously placing my camera on a rock and setting a timer

Our favorite hiking trail is just an hour outside of Sacramento in the mountains of Auburn, California. We picked this trail because it was a little shorter and because it's not very popular, so we knew we would be able to walk around without masks for longer periods of time.

It's like we love each other or something

My personal favorite part of the hike was the end. The trailhead was much longer, but we always stopped for lunch at a small river embankment and would swim in the sun for hours. Most of the time the current was smooth, but on a couple of occasions the river would try to take my pants or shorts along with it so I started to pack extras just in case.
In September 2021, it was confirmed that Aiyana had been given an internship with Office of Planning and Research within the California Governor's office. It was the first big step toward her career in California government policy and I wanted to take her out to celebrate.
But it was fire season so the air outside of our apartment was toxic and a lot of businesses were closed for both covid and because of the air quality. After doing a little research, we realized that the closer we got to the coast, the better the air quality. So we took a day-trip to Monterey Bay.

A couple of Hazy IPAs on a bright and sunny day in Monterey Bay

We spent the day walking around the bay taking in the sights and just enjoying each other's company and stopping for some food and drinks at Alvarado Street Brewery. Seeing how happy she was about her internship made me realize that If I wanted to stay with her, Sacramento would probably be my permanent home.
The Covid-19 pandemic was a global nightmare for everyone. I am very fortunate to have lived through it and even though moving from my hometown was difficult, I feel very positive about the new life Aiyana and I are building in Sacramento.

Sunset from our balcony

And Honestly, I wouldn't give up these purple sunsets for anything.

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