In horse racing, they say pace makes the race. It usually does. I've been in the Bay Area this week and pace is what's been nagging at me for the past few days. When I spend time back in California I'm reminded of the value differences between my former home and my new one in Portland. Everything moves faster here in the East Bay. From the drivers on freeways, to the speed on local streets just going from one place to another, to the dreams people have and the material possessions that represent, or at least reflect what they find most worthwhile. Things cost more here too.
I feel a bit like an alien in the place I called home for so many years. That's because the configuration of streets change. Businesses come and go. But then exceptions exist.
In Berkeley, for example, there is one unremarkable sign that's been the same for as long as I've been around. The Oscar's Hamburgers sign is the same one as I first saw in 1971. It's black lettering on red is faded, of course, and it may have been replaced a time or two (or not) but it looks identical to the sign on the little burger joint I frequented when I worked for $50. a month and room/board at one of the first residential treatment centers for emotionally disturbed kids in Berkeley.
When I drive around the Bay Area, memories overflow from site to site, neighborhood to neighborhood, from the UC campus to the hills to the flat lands by Golden Gate Fields. I monitor my own growth and evolution by some of the places I ride by. We carry these snapshots with us longer than we'd care to admit, I suppose.
I recall classes and presentations made on the Cal campus, parties attended, late night runs from a lover's bed to my own, and countless trips to and from my classroom. We leave a bit of our soul on territory like this even if we are the only ones noticing.
A couple of times this week I've thought of friends now gone. The turning of the urban landscape is not unlike the soil of farmland. New crops, the challenges and unpredictability of the climate, the passing and addition of people...constantly.