We’ve officially moved! and everything is different…
Matt and I woke up our first morning here in Berkeley and felt like we were in a bed and breakfast. All we could see from every window was green green green.
I think I need to lend some context to how drastic this change feels for us. Our beloved old neighborhood of The Mission (which we love in so many ways) got old really fast once we decided to leave. I thought that we would get really nostalgic knowing we were about to go, but instead we started to notice everything we didn’t like. I suppose in a way, it’s like leaving a lover and finally seeing their flaws… things you were blind to out of love and devotion.
And strangely, like an old lover, I still feel protective and hesitate to tell you about the way the streets smelled like piss, how men are always drunk and passed out and strewn across our block all day long, about the broken bottles and shattered windshields and tiny ziploc baggies (so small I didn’t realize what they were for. Ha!) that you find on the street.
Should I tell you about the sounds of sirens and fireworks? the occasional gunshot, the cars honking (doesn’t anybody use doorbells anymore?!) and people yelling at each other… And even as I write this, I see that this is just one way of looking at my old neighborhood. And when you begin to look at something only one way that’s when you get in trouble.
For example, just a few weeks ago a meter maid and another man were down the block yelling at each other. I assumed that one guy had gotten a ticket and was giving the meter maid the business. As I got closer though I heard the man say, very passionately, “And then, you saute the shrimp!” and I grinned as I walked past. “We’re talking about food!” the guys yelled over to me. And I laughed and said, “Yeah, I just figured that out!”
So just to be clear, I’m giving you my post-breakup story about the Mission.
But back to Berkeley, where all of those siren sounds are now replaced by squeals of delight from the kiddie park down the street, hummingbirds hang out in our backyard with their little motors running, gardens are full of flowers and bamboo, squirrels climb the redwoods and our sweet neighbors have already had us over for dinner.
The effect of all this beauty has been interesting to me… I am remembering something I read in the Tipping Point about the New York City subway. They discovered that by cleaning up the subway people were more likely to keep it clean, less likely to paint graffiti, and in turn, overall crime went down. It’s as if this self-respecting environment fostered even more goodness.
Similarly, Matt and I are excited about taking care of our own bodies better. I am having urges to spend the summer bicycling all over town, swimming at the YMCA, eating organic food, practicing yoga and reading more books and making more art instead of watching bad tv and movies.
Matt has noticed a strange desire for better grooming which he is perplexed by. He told me yesterday, “I feel the urge to shave every day and to buy new clothes that are less scrappy and Mission style.” (This conversation began after I asked what smelled so good and he shyly explained that he had put product in his hair)
Are we losing our edge? Are we growing up? Is this what people do when they prepare to have a family?
Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and it was so dark I couldn’t find my water glass. I realized for the first time that night is not night in the city. It never truly gets dark there. Perhaps tonight I will explore the sky and see if I can spot some stars…
Have any of you city folk run for the hills lately?