Friday, June 2, 2017

Time travel

“Home” has suddenly become a much more complicated concept in the last two years. I guess I kind of always assumed that “home” is a stationary place, that even if people moved away from the first place they called home, that place would still remain The Place. I don’t know where I got that idea, so don’t ask. In any case, it’s kind of surprised me to realize that I have multiple homes right now. There is the apartment that Alex and I are turning into our nest. There is wherever my parents go. And there is Davis.

We went back to Davis this week. My parents moved from our childhood home a couple of years ago, but kept most of our things in a storage area back there. Now they’re moving again, and we needed to relocate our things. It was the first time in almost a year and a half that I’ve been back to the place where I grew up. It’s changed a bit since I left for college, of course. There’s a terrifyingly fancy coffee shop downtown that I’m too scared to step into. It’s a bit too cool for me. The rest of the city, though, was just right.

Davis has its issues, like any other city, but there are still so many things I love about it. I love that it lives in the Central Valley, so the horizon stretches out almost as far as the eye can see in every direction. (We can see the hills around Lake Berryessa far to the west, and the Sierra Nevada even further to the east. That’s about it.) I love that it’s small enough that you can bike from one end to the other. I love the birds. Davis is intimately familiar to me, yet at the same time, it still offers so many opportunities to explore. I could take the same path every day for a year and find something new every single time - and stumble over piles and piles of memories at the same time.

Every place in Davis is ripe with memories. The railroad reminds me of long afternoons spent following the train tracks, and one night that my friends and I listened to the Barn Owls scream above our Amtrak station. 

Exploring the train tracks. March 3, 2013.
The same afternoon of exploration. March 3, 2013.

The fields around town remind me of telling my parents I’d be back in a few hours and figuring out new ways to get lost.

Climbing hay bales at my favorite patch. July 1, 2013.
Getting lost. July 14, 2013.

Downtown reminds me of eating piles of candy with small amounts of frozen yogurt underneath with my friends, of finding out I really liked Thai food, of meeting at the movie theater because there weren’t many other places we could go.


Is there frozen yogurt underneath that? April 2, 2013.

It feels like there isn’t one road in the town that I haven’t biked on, driven down, or at the very least, heard of. The city’s physical infrastructure is overlaid by an even richer and more joyful network of memories. And I love them all.

It’s hard to leave a place that you feel so deeply in your bones. But as I made my way back home to Berkeley, I realized that I'm starting to see the Bay Area through the same lens of memories.

Still following train tracks in Santa Cruz. March 28, 2017.
Getting flat tires in Oakland. March 16, 2017.
Updating my mom on the status of the magnolias in Berkeley. March 10, 2017.

I’ve driven up and down the Bay, explored a dozen parks, eaten at a lot of the places where food can be eaten... And yet, I still have so much to learn. I want to know so much more. I want to know more about Oakland and the other neighboring cities; I want to know more about the history of Ohlone people on this land; I want to learn more about the university. This is such a complex and beautiful place. If I am going to continue living here, I want to pay it the right amount of respect by understanding where, exactly, I am.

But hopefully I can go back to Davis sometime, too. I do miss Vic Fazio, and the burrowing owls near Wildhorse, and the network of cul-de-sacs I used to live in, even though I don’t anymore. Also Ikeda’s. They make a mean fruit freeze. I wonder if they still let people have two flavors in the same cup…

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