Hi readers! I have some news: I now live (part-time) in West Oakland, CA.
I wanted to spend more continuous time at my San Francisco company’s office, so I had to figure out how to do it without spending a fortune (#startup #cheap). So I’m renting a room in a house in West Oakland, one BART stop away from downtown SF.
I wanted this. I made it happen. But it’s honestly very lonely and strange.
I’ve left my husband and doggie (Ethel the pug) at home in Seattle. I miss them. I miss what I’ve come to know as “my life”. I feel so out of sorts here (well of course I do… duh.) But I’ll fly home for a week or so a month.
This feels really different from my past “work trips”. The default used to be my home in Seattle. Now the default is my room in Oakland.
My new neighborhood is kind of surreal. It looks downtrodden and yet I happen to know it’s rapidly gentrifying (falling down houses are selling for $800k). The commercial buildings are covered in East Berlin-style bold graffiti and the residential blocks are populated mostly by once-pretty, broken-down old victorian houses hidden behind ugly metal gates.
I feel disoriented at all times, almost especially when I get glimpses of feeling totally normal. How is it possible to feel the ridge-lines of routine within five days of living in a new place? And also feel like I was just dropped out of a spaceship?
I’m too old and sober to change my routine like this, but I seem to be changing my routine like this, faster than I even want it to.
I miss my husband and dog. I forgot about by wedding anniversary the other day. I’m not cool enough for this neighborhood. I’m too tired to walk with NYC-girl purpose through dark, quiet and potentially dangerous Oakland streets.
But I’m here because this 44 year old codger made the decisions to move to the Bay Area for a startup venture. Usually my career choices have (accidentally, cleverly) preceded trends, but this little life phase seems kinda sorta passe.
Right now I’m sitting at my (shared) house’s pretty kitchen island, typing away. dreaming of moving here permanently (good lord).
I spent today in a hipster Oakland neighborhood (Temescal), bought some tiny succulents for my rented room, a pair of cool earrings, a delicious iced latte, and then drove back to my nice house in its shit neighborhood, rearranged my bedroom, and — right now — I feel like I’m falling in love with this place.
The Oakoland sun. The palm trees. The diversity. The dirt. The graffiti. The art. The gentrification and the resistance to it (and my admitted submission to it). It feels weirdly RIGHT. I can’t really explain it, but I’m trying.
To be continued…
p.s. 17 months sober as of yesterday, and 20 days no nicotine. Life is good.