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I've come to find that life is best enjoyed in pairs. I'm independent, cultured, and strong willed, but watching the sunrise wrapped in the arms of someone you truly care about is priceless and underrated. I'm a Pisces; I'm a romantic; I'm searching for my soul mate. Why, so often, are we afraid to say that we desire a relationship. "Love is like oxygen, Love lifts us up where we belong, All we need is love". My twenties are nearly over, and I'd like to share a few of the lessons I've learned through this period of my life. I've learned that people usually aren't meant to be in our lives forever. I've learned that the harder we try to hold onto something we think we need, the more elusive it becomes. I've learned that it's good medicine to laugh, and strong men do cry. When I was 23, I had the privilege of studying abroad for a year. Vienna chose me first. Vienna, Austria changed my life. For the first time, being gay seemed to be a feasible possibility for me. People were different there, yet still so much the same. Living outside the "land of the free" allowed me to breath easier. I didn't feel the pressure any longer of striving to maintain a "straight" Christian" identity. I was young, I was naive, and yet so open to the possibility of love. I've always been open to love. I've tried at times not to be. When you love easily, and wear your heart on your sleeve, you become vulnerable and are prone to heart break. I had my heart broken by young men in my twenties often. The tears that followed helped me to heal. After my time in Vienna came to an end, sure enough, more tears. I had fallen in love with a beautiful 21 year old Austrian man, and I would miss him with my whole heart. His name was Wolfi. Unknowingly, I was learning the price and reward of moving on. After Vienna, I chose to study abroad in Beijing, China. I began to develop a craving for culture shock, and I intuitively knew that China would satisfice that yearning. Perhaps, I thought, my soul mate wasn't in Europe after all, maybe he was waiting for me in China. Apart from my studies in Mandarin and Sino-American relations, I traveled to Tibet, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Xian, and an array of other Chinese cities. My life had changed. I also fell in love in China, but this time with my American roommate, Chris. I've never told anyone that I was/am in love with him, but I'm sharing this with you. Chris and I became great friends. We'd skateboard the streets of China for hours, we'd watch episodes of The Wonder Years until we fell asleep, and we smoked and drank A LOT. Chris is straight and currently in law school. He will always hold a piece of my heart. Maybe one day I'll have the courage to tell him how much I love him. I've been back in my hometown for two years now and it's only gotten harder. I still suffer, to a degree, from "reverse culture shock". How could San Marcos, California compare to the euphoria I experienced in Europe and Asia. I long to return to the world. Simply, I'm ready for my soul mate. I believe that Wolfi and Chris were stepping stones to the man I will ultimately spend the rest of my life with. I have an impenetrable faith in Jesus; He's always been by my side. When I walk through dark alleys in unfamiliar places, I'm really never alone. It's hard to put this into words, but I want Jesus and a male soul mate. I want Jesus to bless this relationship. My twenties opened me up to the possibility, at last. Well, that's a brief story of life in and out of my twenties. I'd like to celebrate my 30th birthday on March 1, 2013 with my boyfriend. I've never actually had a "boyfriend", but I know that I am ready and waiting for him. He is kind. He thinks my imperfections make me even more beautiful. He's been waiting for me too. I plan on starting a support group in North County San Diego for Gay Christians. There are so many that just need to know, you aren't alone. I'm here and I won't stop until my mission is complete. I am searching for the man who would like to stand by me, believe in my dreams, hold me in his arms, cry with me, and laugh endlessly with me. Until later, God Bless. Richi

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1 Shawn Bose = "Richi - thank you for sharing your personal story.  I too really felt a sense of finding myself when I first studied abroad when I was 20.  I was in India and Nepal mostly.  I love the concept that you were 'able to be yourself there'. For me it was not finding my sexual identity - but it certainly was about identity. Living as a first generation American with all my American sensibilities in the land of my cultural forbearers - "people were different there, yet still so much the same".  I am glad that your experiences inform your desire to live in the way you want to - it was/has been the same for me.  I wish you love, peace and joy."