In August, Alex and I left LA, our home of 8 years, and set out for a new adventure in Oakland, CA! We settled into our amazing cottage – 400 square feet of charming, tiny loveliness – and are getting acquainted with our new city!
While Alex has jumped straight into his Master of Landscape Architecture program at UC Berkeley, my chapter has had a slower exposition. I made the conscious decision to hold off on the job hunt and take a little breather. I spent our first month in Oakland marinating in this big change and trying to settle into life without a structured routine.
I knew it would be difficult – I’m the type of person who always has a goal or a schedule or a to-do list. I mean literally the day Alex decided on Berkeley, I was already on Indeed scouring the internet for a job that would appeal to me and help us pay the rent… So you can imagine how it was tricky for me to force myself to act against my instincts and just sit back with the knowledge that I didn’t have a plan.
It’s been even harder than I thought. I have found that I get up each morning with the same mentality I had when I was working 50+ hours a week just a few months ago. It’s hard to let go of the routines you’ve had for years. Like really fucking hard. Freedom sounds great from afar but when you have it, it’s really strange how claustrophobic it can feel. In our society, we jump from one thing to the next and are told to always have a plan or a goal – to strive for the next thing and line up your next venture before closing the door on your current one. I don’t think I’ve ever taken time for myself like this before. Like ever. I wonder how many people go through life in this country without ever fully having a break. One friend put it really well when comparing the US to her time in Spain where people don’t feel they need to earn a luxurious lunch or free time to relax, it’s just accepted in the culture as part of enjoying life.
I guess I’m a true American because I wake up with a sense of guilt that I have no clear To Do list or place to be or people who need me. The latter is the hardest for me. I spent the last 3 years of my life being a rock for a community of 250 students and parents and a staff of 15 who needed me. That really has defined who I have been – someone who could be depended on to keep things running smoothly and to support those who needed me most. Without that – who am I?
Well…for one thing, I’m a nester. The second we got here I poured my energy into making our home the comforting haven I needed it to be. And with only 400 square feet to work with – the clutter of boxes wasn’t really a viable option. Every nook and cranny needs to be used effectively while still aesthetic since there’s nowhere to hide things…so it’s been a fun project. I’ll share photos of the cottage in a post soon!
For another, I am a devoted partner to an insanely busy graduate student. I guess I’ve dumped the attention I used to spread amongst hundreds of students and their families, my awesome team of teachers, and a group of loving friends, onto my one and only Guy. His graduate program is an all-consuming intensive program and he’s working around the clock to become the best designer, scientist, and ultimately – landscape architect he can be. So supporting him has been a large component of my first months here in Oakland.
And finally – I’m a baker. The second I got to Oakland I tried out our miniature oven and baked some of my best sourdough loaves yet. Baking has always been therapeutic and healing, a type of mindfulness for me and I’ve been enjoying slinging loaves from our cottage and selling them to friends & bread lovers in the East Bay while I look for jobs!
So…hello Oakland! Let’s see where this next chapter takes us.