Six months ago, I moved to Oakland from San Francisco, where I’d lived for 23 years. The move was agonizing for me; I felt like I was losing a limb. I wrote about it here.
Despite my hesitation, almost immediately, I noticed there was something special about this place called Oakland. Amazingly, even though I’d lived in San Francisco for so long, I’d only been to Oakland two dozen times, and only to a few parts of the city for very brief periods of time. I didn’t know my way around at all, and so moving here became like an adventure, as if I’d moved to Chicago or Pittsburgh or Austin–a plethora of new sights and experiences. I love a new adventure, and I’m still experiencing a sense of wonder and excitement six months later. It seems that every week I discover new shops, galleries, restaurants, cafes, parks, swimming pools, even a magnificent lake. Let’s just say, I’ve fallen in love. In fact, I’ve said to Clay more than once: What took us so long?
One of the things I love about Oakland is that it’s an urban place with tall buildings, incredible diversity and fantastic culture, but, compared to San Francisco, there is just a lot more space around everything, both literally and figuratively. People are more spread out (Oakland is about 78 square miles to San Francisco’s 47 square miles), so there is more space around everything — people, buildings, homes, cars — which provides for a much more open, less cramped, less intense vibe. I love to take long walks and hike, and Oakland also has so many gorgeous outdoor areas. I especially love the redwood forest of Roberts Park, walking around beautiful lake Merritt, and much smaller Temescal Park, which even has a small lake. Almost daily I walk my dog at Mountain View Cemetery, which is close to where I live and was designed by famed Frederick Law Olmstead. We hike to the top to see views of downtown Oakland and downtown San Francisco, and in the evening, the sunset.
The weather here always felt like some sort of myth to me when I lived in San Francisco. It’s not really that much warmed over there, I told myself. But it is — on average it’s 10 degrees warmer and with less wind. The part of Oakland where I live is sometimes even 15 degrees warmer. I like warm weather, so the average summer 70-80 degree temperatures suit me (to be fair, I realize that many people enjoy the cold of San Francisco, but I never did).
We have wild turkeys that roam our street, the same street that I can look down and see tops of the buildings downtown, and the fog rolling in over San Francisco. We are growing vegetables in our backyard. We even have room for an outdoor chaise lounger on our deck for soaking in the sunshine. Last night, we sat outside and listened to crickets. The part-country, part-city feel of Oakland is what I love most. So many little neighborhoods here are like small towns. People are incredibly friendly. Life is good in Oakland.
I’ll leave you with some photos I’ve taken here since I moved here in February.
Lake Merritt early on a Sunday morning.
Wilfredo watching the sunset at the top of Mountain View Cemetery.
Duende Restaurant, before opening hours.
The gorgeous outdoor pool at Mills College, where I swim laps.
Umami Mart, one of favorite shops downtown.
Wilfredo enjoying the warm sunshine on our back deck.
Small town charm off Piedmont Avenue.
Temescal Alley, a true gem.
A mural in my Oakland studio building.
View from the top of Mountain View Cemetery.
Margaret enjoying our yard.
Wilfredo in Roberts Park.
A view of downtown.