Posts Tagged ‘moving’

So I Guess I Went North for the Winter

Monday, February 12th, 2018

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So despite the fact that a textbook I read for a history class compared the “nationalism” of California to that of a community with nation status, no one I know from home stayed in California for college. I come from Oakland CA, the Bay Area, a fifteen-minute BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) ride from downtown San Francisco. Everyone I know who lives in that area, including my mother, who is from New York, and my friend, who is from China, loves the Bay Area with their whole soul, which makes it confusing why we would choose to leave. My personal theory is that all of us know we’re coming back. When people go to college, they might want to see how they like it and then decide where to live, but everyone I know is going to live in the Bay Area. They might visit other places or work in other places, but they will live in the Bay. Because the Bay is home.

So we all left. In preparation for this, my school librarian hosted a “how to dress for the winter” informational session during lunchtime after college acceptances had come out. It was widely attended. Said librarian, who is from Boulder, Colorado, instructed us in the use of hats, scarves, and gloves, items that I basically knew existed, but had never voluntarily owned. I’m still adjusting to the city, asking my roommate from Connecticut whether this is scarf weather. And today, fed up with the idea of “socks,” I elected to walk to the dining hall in flip flops. My feet got wet and cold and I slipped a few times, but I made it. The Californian has survived.

Besides the weather, there are other adjustments to make when coming from the West Coast to the East Coast. The East Coast is old blood, colonial revolutionary blood. That means the East has traditions. Standards. The West has none of that. I have friends whose family came over in the gold rush. They were opportunists looking for a “get rich quick” scheme.

If there’s one way I can sum up the Bay Area’s culture it’s this: the Bay hates formality. Anything you can do to take it away is good. Calling your teachers by surnames seems a little much, let’s go with first names, or even nicknames. Not being able to swear in class? Let’s get rid of that one too. We didn’t graduate in a cap and gown. We could wear whatever we want and some of the kids wore caps, some wore gowns, some wore both and some wore neither. We looked about as coordinated as a jamboree class. As a high school student, I spend some time on the Berkeley campus. Everyone on the Berkeley campus is wearing sweatpants, sweatshirts and flip flops. And because the temperature never gets below 50 or above 80, they look like this year round. This all conspired to mean that when I walked into my 8 am first year math lecture to see people in heels and makeup, I was confused. I looked down at my own legging-clad legs, shrugged, and went to sit down. My personal overture towards both coasts is the “leggings and heels” look, which gets across comfort without sacrificing too much dignity, though it’s very uncomfortable if you’re late to class.

My first impression of New York was that it’s a city of people going places on their way to other places. People in California are busy too, but they stand still for a second, sit down for a meal. New Yorkers are going to meetings on the way to their other meetings.

By Abigail McManus


Abigail McManus, a first year linguistics major, is interested in all things words and stories. In her abundant free time, she writes and thinks about language, as well as practicing Jiu Jistu and Karate. She is from the San Francisco Bay Area and she’ll tell you about it if you let her. 

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Late Night Creations

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

written by Sabina Ashbaugh

We always substitute an egg with two tablespoons of vanilla soymilk—a slight variation that leaves the dough runny and easier to mix with the cracked wooden spoon. The timer is set for 12 minutes, not 14 as the cookbook suggests, with a reminder at the six-minute mark to switch the top and bottom trays in the oven. Despite these careful discrepancies, accumulated over countless nights, our creations are never completely predictable. We speculate whether it might be the heat of the dimly lit kitchen, and that volatile summer breeze that seeps in through the windows and seems to soften the contours of the room.
Despite our many trials, my sister and I never fully plan our baking efforts, or even carefully measure out the ingredients of our amended recipes. The soymilk substitution, now a permanent step in the cookie making process, came from a late realization that the egg carton was deceptively empty. As if to support this impulsiveness, the planned desserts baked for family dinners—the pumpkin or apple pies, the blueberry cobblers, the cinnamon buns, the madeleines—are never as good as the spontaneous endeavors to satisfy late night cravings. The immediate satisfaction of these creations quickly assuaged the worries and anxieties amassed during school or work. Tasks divided and ingredients laid out, my sister and I get to work setting right the wrongs of the day.
It has been a year now since I moved away from home. Some months have flown by while others have painstakingly inched to a close, with pangs of homesickness and late night baking cravings that seemed to arise out of nowhere. Family, a concept that had seemed so natural and tangible just a year ago, has slowly been abstracted to stand for that sense of place so radically reconfigured after leaving for school. In times of stress, I often caught myself about to call the house with a confused plea of “What should I do?”
With distance I have come to realize how often I unintentionally underappreciated this form of support. I cringe at the thought that the ease and spontaneity of those nights spent baking are a lost bridge between my sister and I—treasured memories to look back on fondly but ones impossible to recapture. And yet the removal of this crutch has also forced me to examine how I will right the wrongs of the day in my own way—not by baking, but through the careers and choices that lie ahead.
Moving away is an exciting step towards independence and deciding how and what one wants to change in the world. In the midst of so many choices, the advice offered by family is a means of grounding oneself in times of transformation. Finding a niche in college involves exploring how one will contribute to society and improve the lives of others, but it also requires the recognition of the debt owed to those at home.
Growing up compels us to accept these recipes, relationships, and plans for future change. Family rituals become memories as traditions are re-made. It is important to maintain ties with those that helped us get where we are, and continue to want to see us succeed. Helping others starts by looking out for and appreciating those at home, and paying tribute to those left behind.

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