Day Three: The University of California at Berkeley

First, a simple choice.  Instead of walking six blocks to breakfast along the main drag (University Avenue), Philippe and I strolled along a residential street two blocks south.  There was the greenest of grass and the most wondrous of trees.  One shone in the sun, with fans of needles and long seed pods.  I stared up at the beauty of it … some terrestrial artist had sculpted a miracle.  Then there were the giant bonsais, also looming over me.  Swirls of green flowed like the ocean under a human artist’s hands.  Through it all, the sun blessed our steps.

Next was Razan’s Organic Kitchen.  We had dropped in the day before, to be greeted by a smiling young woman wearing a head scarf.  We promised that we’d come back today and both Philippe and I have learned to keep our word.  We sat upstairs and were soon chowing down on a spinach basil burrito and a breakfast burrito.  Mine was so delicious, and according to our friend, so immensely healthy.  As one reviewer said, “Loved this place!  Visiting Berkeley and even with dozens of restaurants to choose from, I went here for dinner two days in a row.  How many other restaurants offer 100% organic?  You can taste it too.  Everything I had was fresh and skillfully made.”

I watched the people passing along the sidewalk below us … young, old, wealthy and not.  I wondered what their lives were like, if they go through the same joys and sorrows that I do.  Of course.

On the UC Berkeley campus, we came upon the Berkeley City Club, a fancy hotel guarded by a heavy metal gate.  Happily there was an intercom, and the receptionist allowed us to look around.  The building is a Julia Morgan architectural masterpiece, featuring huge windows that bring natural light inside.  We lolled around, drinking in the aesthetics of dark wood, orangey cream walls, and so many curves … arches, doors rounded at the top, flower-shaped windows.  Peace flowed into me from the ambiance, to blend with the peace that flowed out of me.

On Oxford Street, a demolition was pressing ahead.  Cranes and earth movers were ripping down cement walls and floors.  It was surreal to witness the power of destruction, to visualize the past as the present crumbled before our eyes.

We roamed and rambled the green spaces of UC Berkeley, standing below towering red cedars.  We sat in the Student Union for awhile, surrounded by students on their laptops and iPads.  I was working on the earlier paragraphs of this post.  There we were, forty or fifty isolations, intent in our individual stories, and not a shred of contact between us.  And we sat beneath a quote from Martin Luther King: “Yes, we have learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we have not learned the simple art of walking the earth as brothers and sisters.”  Amen.

Finally, dinner at Jupiter, a pub just off-campus.  We were on a patio at the back, three sweet levels ripe with red brick walls, greenery beside us and on the trellis above, and many smiling faces.  And I was … cold.  I had left my down jacket in the motel room and Maslow was having his way with me.  My consciousness, usually flowing out to others, was being sucked back into my body as I teetered on the edge of “poor me”.

How strange to see so many folks in shirt sleeves as I zipped up my shell and borrowed Philippe’s toque.  I chuckled at my poor selection of clothing.  Tomorrow I’ll do better.

We hurried home to the land of 72º F.  And so to bed, under warm covers.

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