A new chapter, and feeling good about it
The flight was smooth, the dogs were adorable, and the sunset looked triumphant. I met the new guy, to whom I am the New Guy, and ate tacos. Eight hours of sleep on a sofa saturated with canine, and then today started. And with it, presumably, a new episode of my life.
Because today I take up residence in a fixed place. That alone surprises me, but that it’s in America? Shocking. As of today, I am a resident, more or less, of Oakland, California, just across the cold bay waters and whitecaps from San Francisco.
Oakland has a rough reputation, but I’m in one of the nicer areas (by quite a bit), where paint jobs are perfect, ornate windows reveal custom made furniture, and the yards are filled with organic heirloom tomato plants…in custom made planter boxes with perfect paint jobs.
When I came to look at the house a week ago, I stood in the nearest intersection and could see at least two Prius hybrid cars in every direction. In front of the house right now, four of eight vehicles are that model. This is one of the few renter houses on the block, and apparently the neighbors maintain a certain suspicion about us.
That’s kind of awesome.
I don’t mean to judge any of this, hybrids are great and lord knows I have nothing against tomatoes, but it’s a helluva change from…everywhere else.
That’s going to be true in a lot of ways. I’ll do laundry whenever I want. My showering schedule will be regular and reliable. I’ll get mail here. I can drink the tap water.
I went for a walk last night to explore the area. I wondered if the battered state of my clothes would gain me hipster street cred, but I suspect I still don’t speak their language. Perhaps I should grow a handlebar mustache?
When I was ready to turn around I found a burger place, where I bought lemonade from a girl not wearing a bra, then sat to drink it while others came in and ordered “the vegetarian burger, with onions if they’re organic and extra tahini” and “a cheeseburger with cheese.”
I passed restaurants where Young Urban Professionals sat their giant wine glasses on spotless white tablecloths, and thought “I will never eat there.” A dozen more steps and I passed in the door of a simple taqueria, spare tables and bright lights, where smiling women with rosy cheeks tended a clean grill.
That’s when tacos happened.
I crossed under the BART tracks (think subway) and found the closest grocery store (where I went this morning to buy bread, hummus, cherry tomatoes and an avocado. Still on the list: a real towel, breakfast cereal, and laundry soap that works in machines).
As my walk was winding down, I noticed I was slipping towards…what was this feeling? My god, it’s moping. Gloomy unhappiness. What the hell?
My body remembered innumerable similar walks in my last US hometown, where I would pace the four sad blocks of the downtown drag, gradually growing less and less optimistic that something interesting would happen. But then I remembered, I’m not there anymore.
I’m in a new town. A new house. A new phase of life. And it’s looking good.
I bought an ice cream to celebrate. It was delicious.
I try to find a balance with normal life, but the balance always tilts towards the endless world. Oakland should be salty enough to keep things interesting.
On the train just now I found myself chatting with an Irish lad, who went from 90% drunk when we started talking, to 35% when I changed trains. Conclusion: Oakland is an interesting place, and I am apparently an undrunkifying conversationalist. The first half of that is definitely positive…not so sure about the second. (Good luck with your new apartment!)
There’s so much between the lines stuff…that it’s all quite fascinating. I think it all adds up to a book surely?
Ha! : ) Don’t tempt me! (Right now I’m just trying to figure out what to include in my current writing…”project.”)
waiting waiting 🙂
Week One here had too many delightful distractions (you should see how this dog plays fetch…) but I’ll get to work next week, I promise!
Real life distractions are good as well…but you have much to tell I’m sure.
I have much to read! Keep buying books, and haven’t even caught up on blogs for over a week while fluey…such is life.
You know those BART tracks you mentioned? Be sure to make use of them. The last time I was in the Bay Area, I stayed in the East Bay and…you know, for all the p*ssing and moaning the locals due about the BART, it’s one heckuva a good mass transit system.
: ) It’s not the subway in Madrid by any means, but I agree, it’s not too shabby. (I’ve ridden four trains already today, and I was glad to see that they added overnight service during the closure of the Bay Bridge. That was a good call.)
Welcome to the Town! I very much look forward to reconnecting when we return from our travels. In the meantime enjoy exploring the hiking, food and people of the East Bay. I look forward to hearing your take on it all.
Thanks Shamalama! We will definitely do that, and in the meantime, I’ll happily get to work on all three of those things.
Love California. Hope you enjoy your stay in Oakland. Lived in Berkeley for 4+ years, and traveled all over Nor Cal. Let me know if you need any suggestions. 🙂
I’m always up for suggestions! Right now I’m wondering where the best place for a hike (that’s reasonably easy to get to) is. Did you go straight Berkeley to Long Island? Was that a tough transition?
Hi there! I hope you have a car. There’s plenty of hiking in Berkeley hills. If you want to go up to Marin county, one of my favorite places is Point Reyes. There is also this little Zen Buddhist place called Green Gulch, located on the way to Mount Tamalpais next to the beach. It’s wonderful and has beautiful trails. Email me if you have any other questions.
Unfortunately in this one case, I’m car-less. Normally I give thanks for that every day, but hearing about Green Gulch makes me pine for a set of wheels… Maybe I can rope a friend into driving…
I am from NY, so it wasn’t that hard of a transition. Long Island is beautiful in its own way, lots of greenary, beaches and lovely trails. 🙂
I’ve only spent a few days in New York, but liked what I saw. I’ll have to head over that way one of these days, with a list of your recommendations in hand.
As usual, I was worried about you when I read your post 🙂 But in the latter part of the post, I think it brightened slightly.
Every time you encounter too many white tablecloths and Young Urban Professionals, then think I did the leeches and ants and I reached the ship, so you will smile for the rest of the day.
All the best – hope you find the right laundry soap 😛
🙂 That’s good advice. And if I start getting stressed about small stuff I can just remind myself “Hey, at least nothing’s feeding on my blood right now.” Tak!