Go West, Alison

“If your life was a book, would anyone read it?”

I first heard this while plopped in front of the television as a kid. It was uttered during a Navy TV spot enticing adventure-seekers to enlist. Promising excitement and fulfillment, the ad showed young Americans descending from helicopters, ocean waves licked at their heels, or jetting across the sea with faces hidden behind camouflage.

The ad failed to charm me into joining the military, but this bookworm was struck by the metaphor. Would anyone read my story? 

In truth I’m not sure my life would make much of a NYT Best Seller at this point, but I’d like to think the lands I’ve visited, paired with a talented illustrator, might lead it to fair well … at least as a possible coffee table selection.

And so, if my life were a novel, moving to California would be a plot twist.

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I always felt destined to leave Iowa. Early on I became enamored with the East Coast: its bustling urbanites interwoven with the country’s history and earliest artifacts.  As my college friends picked up and moved out East, my eventual move felt even more right.

But then I got a job in San Francisco and quickly warmed up to the idea of living in a region of the US that I had not explored.  

And here we are: Berkeley, California.  Our arrival on Tuesday was relatively smooth for two people flying with four checked bags, four carry-ons and two disassembled bikes.  We utilized Uber XL to transport us and our belongings to our new apartment. Tired, Derrick and I weren’t very eager for conversation during the 20 minute ride.  The only conversation we did have with the driver occurred after we passed by an accident on the other side of the interstate.  The driver bemoaned the stupidity of drivers and the dangerous conditions on the road. It was at that moment Derrick and I realized our lane, the innermost one, was precariously small and lacked a shoulder between us and the concrete median wall. As our driver continued his brief rant, our eyes made their way to our right side where vehicles whizzed past.

If someone is texting or not paying attention and drifts over to our side, the driver continued to explain, I have no room… and BAM, an accident. 

Gulp. Just another reason we were glad to sell the car back in Iowa. 

Since our arrival, we’ve been running around the Bay Area, on errands and picking up things to help us settle in. We registered with Zipcar and went to Emeryville where we shopped (and briefly lunched) for general household items: pillows, mattress protector, ironing board. We finished off our list at Target, right next door and with our remaining time stopped at the Berkeley Bowl.

image6Although some people disagree with me, Berkeley reminds me of Iowa City. The college town vibe, the cyclists, the concern for the smallest of causes and the appreciation for all things local. No doubt, it’s also very different but the Berkeley Bowl took me right back to grocery shopping in Iowa City. 

The Berkeley Bowl is like IC’s New Pi Co-op, filled with all kinds of fresh produce and other food items…only it’s larger — both the general store and definitely the produce section. Need some apples? There are 10 different kinds. Peaches? Three different kinds. I even saw the deliciously stinky Durian, the famously funky fruit from China.

Although we’re closer to Trader Joe’s than the BB, we definitely plan to bike there frequently for our produce (and various other) needs.  

So to my readers (basically, my family): We seem to be settling in well. Despite exhaustion, we unpacked and cleaned up yesterday and the apartment already feels like home. We’re trying to soak up the dwindling days of unemployment before I begin my new job next week. Derrick is still looking, but has several inquiries he’s juggling. Unemployment may soon be in the past for him as well.