I’ve recently accepted the position of barista at the esteemed Blue Bottle Coffee Company. I am now officially too hipster to exist. I need to go out and buy a beanie. And grow a mustache. And probably wear at least seven bow-ties at any given point.

And I’ll also now be speaking about mouth-feel and fruit-forwardness. You’re welcome world.

Long story short: now that I’m a barista, I’m too cool to use the term Oaklandish. So I’m making my own term: Oaklandic. Again, you’re welcome.

So, I moved to Oakland about three weeks ago. Crazy world. Crazy life. I still don’t really believe that I’m living in California. Living out my exact dream of being a barista and getting free coffee and also being able to write. I feel like at any moment someone’s going to swoop down from the sky and sirens will go off and they’ll put me under arrest for being too darn happy all the time.

Until that day comes, though, let me talk to you about Oakland.

I am straight up in love with this place. I love San Francisco, too, don’t worry. OH MAN DO I LOVE SAN FRANCISCO. But that’s a different sort of love.

San Francisco is that quirky person your parents absolutely adore. San Francisco always shows up on time for every date. And they cook you meals. And yeah, sometimes they shout crazy things at your window, but at the end of the day they mostly just want to cuddle.

Oakland is the person who always smells like marijuana and is constantly talking about weird stuff from their childhood and they maybe steal twenties from your purse if you aren’t careful, but they’re so damn real and they love you so damn much that you can’t really say no to their apologies. Oakland is the person you hate to love and love to hate.

Oakland is the sound of gunfire in the night that turns out to be fireworks.And fireworks that turn out to be gunfire.

Oakland is the kitten with the broken neck dead in the road.

Oakland is the smoke from the taqueria down the street and kids walking to school in their heavy navy uniforms.

Oakland is the chuckling of roosters at six in the morning. And five. And four.

Oakland is a children’s coloring book scrawled with swear words.

Oakland is seeing “Justice for Oscar Grant” spray-painted on the sidewalk and taking the BART from the station where he was murdered.

Oakland is your neighbors yelling at one another across the street and then offering to let you use their hand cart.

Oakland is an independent press featuring local artists and its old men speaking in Spanish about the wonders of Zumba.

Oakland is all the beautiful things, all the horrible things, all the worlds and places and none of them, a city all its own.

My whole life I’ve never really known where I belong. I didn’t belong in Indiana. I didn’t quite belong in Minnesota. I was only ever a visitor in Wisconsin. But Oakland feels like home. It’s rough and weird and scary and flawed and deep in its core, it loves. And what can one do but return love when you find it?


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