I have been in Oakland for a week now. I’ve explored some of the local downtown area, mostly involved with the Occupation, more on that later, and visited the encampment and farmer’s market in Berkeley but otherwise I still have much more exploring to do. I haven’t made it to San Francisco yet. But it looks as though I will have plenty of time to do that. After a lot of thought and a hike through Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve in the hills, I’ve decided to make Oakland my home for the moment. It seems I can find much cheaper housing here and a job that pays more than I would find in Vermont. So if everything goes according to plan, I should be able to save a significant amount of money in just a few months as long as I can find an appropriate job.
The decision was very nerve-wracking. At first, I wasn’t sure my inclination to stay wasn’t because I was starting to feel so ungrounded floating from place to place. Perhaps partially, but after I thought about it, I realized I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to live with a group of really talented creative people in an amazingly open and fun space. Even though it’s in the heart of a major city, I felt the motivating force of being around these people would be very good for me. Before I solidified my decision though, I needed to find a patch of green, somewhere natural that I could go when I needed to be quiet with the earth. I was able to find that at Sibley, approximately 15 minutes into the hills. There were amazing views of the whole Bay area as you weaved through the hills. At the preserve, stands Round Top, one of the area’s highest peaks, consisting of debris from a 10 million year old volcano. Along the trails, mingled between open cow pastures, are three labyrinths that the park doesn’t tell you about as they aren’t able to officially endorse them. The foliage was mostly foreign to me like the monterey pines and eucalyptus trees, though I could identify the distinctive madrone trees, the dry and seeding artichokes which I had only seen sold in craft stores before, and one welcoming bush of thistles. The ground was damp and slippery in the wooded areas, covered in leaves, pine cones, and the slime of banana slugs. When I got lost in the trees momentarily, I came across a very slow moving charcoal-colored salamander, longer than my hand.
I picked up a bumpy closed pine cone from a monterey pine and rolled it around in my hands as I contemplated. When I reached the center of the first labyrinth, I left my pine cone, infused with my thoughts of what home meant, in the pile of tokens people had left. My decision was solid and now it was time to act. Tomorrow, I will fly to Santa Fe as it was my final destination and was looking forward to seeing my old college friend. So I will be able to say I’ve finished this part of the journey and will return to Oakland on the 30th with hopes of having a more permanent room in the warehouse where I’ve been staying on December 1st.