Last week, I stumbled upon an old post by V Smoothe, at Future Oakland, where she got her start blogging about Oakland before starting Great Expectations, which is now known as A Better Oakland. It was her introductory post, and her story about falling in love with Oakland was too sweet not to share:
I visited a friend here one January, and it was truly love at first sight. On my first day in Oakland, he took me downtown for an all-day walking tour. We rode the bus down Broadway, got off at West Grand. He showed me the Paramount, Uptown (when it was really nothing), City Center, Old Oakland, Chinatown, 17th Street, the Lake Merritt Apartment district, and the financial district. We ate lunch at Le Cheval and ended the day sitting on a bench on Lake Merritt, shaded by the Kaiser Center and staring at Children’s Fairyland. After watching me sit in silence for a long while, my friend nervously asked me if something was wrong. All I could say in response was “I’m moving here.” From my very first day, I knew I belonged here.
I returned to Portland and started saving my money. A year and a half later, I was a proud Oaklander. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was at home. I have lived downtown ever since. I love it here. I can step outside my door and get a bus anywhere in the city. My weekends are spent enjoying the wealth of distinct neighborhoods in Oakland and all they have to offer. Years after moving here, I am still constantly finding new things to enjoy all over the city.
This got me thinking about when I fell in love with Oakland. I can’t say that like V it was love at first sight. I never disliked the city, but it wasn’t until I worked and lived here that I fell in love. And I can’t share a particular moment of realization.
Still, I find myself re-realizing my love for this city over and over again. Yesterday, when I returned from San Diego, I had one of these moments at the Oakland airport. As I moved down the moving walkway from the far end of the Southwest terminal, I looked out the huge window towards the water, glistening in the sun. It felt so good to be home that I just started smiling – I don’t think I could have stopped smiling if I had wanted to. That feeling of seeing Oakland again after being away is incredibly powerful for me.
It’s a similar feeling to being at a concert and hearing the band play the first few notes of one of your favorite songs. You haven’t even heard the best part, but still, you feel deeply satisfied – it becomes a physical feeling, in addition to an emotional feeling. That’s how I feel pretty much every time I look out that window at the airport upon returning, or when I exit the BART tunnel on the Oakland side and see the shipping cranes.
So no, it wasn’t love at first sight for me, but I’m still in love with this city and am constantly reminded of this. I’m curious to know – was your love for Oakland immediate, or did it take a bit of time to grow on you?