Over the holidays, the boys and I spent a few days in Berkeley to extend our visit with family. I rented a house in North Berkeley, near the tunnel that leads to Solano Avenue. It was an area we drove through often when I was in graduate school and Perry was in law school in San Francisco in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. My mother lived in Albany at the time and we passed through this neighborhood frequently to visit her. The rented house was walking distance to both Solano and Shattuck Avenues and as I strolled through the curving streets, I thought, “This is where we would have lived if we had stayed in the Bay Area instead of moving to Los Angeles.”
I felt wistful as I walked to our old haunts along Shattuck Avenue – the Cheese Board and Walnut Square where I had my first cup of Peet’s coffee. I browsed in shops along Solano Avenue and reminisced about the weekly lunches I used to have with my mom at Walker’s Pies. One afternoon we walked up the hill to Indian Rock Park at sunset. We joined a group of about 20 people perched on the rocks and watched the sun slink into the San Francisco Bay with the hills of the City in the background.
As I listened to the “oohs” and “aahs” of the crowd around me, I wondered, “What would it be like to live here, in a place with such natural beauty?”
But then I realized, I do live in a place of natural beauty. My house in Los Angeles is three miles from the beach where there are fabulous sunsets. In winter, the mountains are dusted with snow and from the top of Mar Vista Hill, you can see the ocean to the west and snow-covered mountains to the east. I live in a lovely neighborhood with a caring community and am surrounded by the support of friends and family.
Sometimes it takes a moment like this, where you are lifted from your everyday life and surroundings, that makes you realize what you already have but don’t acknowledge.
I loved my time in Berkeley but I came home with a deeper appreciation for my place in Los Angeles and a sense of gratitude for this stage in life.
Sometimes beauty is in your own backyard.