Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNameeWe’ve been house-sitting in Berkeley this week, which means reconnecting with old friends and favorite foods.

We did this back in April, not a month after we moved. It was actually really helpful during the whole transition. While packing up, any missed opportunity transferred from the Reasons I’m Sad to be Moving list to the Let’s Have the Best Getaway Ever list. Never showed Mark the Torpedo Room? It’s alright, we’ll go when we house-sit in April. Always wanted to explore the secret staircases in the hills? We’ll take Ruby for a walk there when we house-sit in April. Still haven’t passed the baton for the church hospitality team? When we house-sit in April. When we house-sit in April. It was very reassuring before we left and a practically perfect weekend in execution.

Somehow, though, this time feels different. For one, Mark and I are both working not vacationing. I drop him off at BART on my way to the office and pick him up in the evening. We eat. I go to bed reading while he stays up late working. It’s a lot like our normal life, but with better food and a dog dependent on us for company. For another, it’s summertime in Berkeley not spring. It’s cloudy, dark, and cool. Summer here might be dreary, but Berkeley is perfect in springtime and fall. Sunny, warm, pleasantly crisp, with vibrant wildflowers and foliage.

But I think the real reason this has felt different is that we’re actually moving on. This morning I met Alison at Cheeseboard for breakfast. I love driving to the Gourmet Ghetto before 7am. At that hour, the neighborhood is quiet and pleasantly grey. After a delightful breakfast, I drove home by muscle memory and couldn’t help but feel the tension of wanting to have spent more years here but also being grateful that Mark got the job in Palo Alto.

I haven’t quite figured out this idea of belonging still and moving on. Perhaps we’re not done with Berkeley yet, or the other way around. Nevertheless, I anticipate ample opportunity to process as I borrow Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee. I picked this up while Ruby and I waited for Mark to come home last night. It’s a delicious read, full of food and Berkeley and history and travel and spirit. I’m on chapter five, “Very Berkeley,” and I’m hooked.

Thank you, Alison, for all the early mornings in the Gourmet Ghetto including today. Those are some of my fondest memories of Berkeley.