I Visit My Hometown

In recent weeks I have made a couple of visits to the Bay Area. They involved multiple facets of experience. Though I live with them all jumbled together (as we all do) I will try here to separate them out a bit.

The trip

Not too long ago, I discovered a commuter bus that makes a few trips each weekday all the way from Sacramento (Amtrak station) to the Pleasant Hill BART station. Connecting to BART then gives me access to a huge region (commonly known as the Bay Area).

Senior fare on the bus is only $2.50. I have taken the early morning bus both times. On the first I was the only passenger out of Sacramento and on the second I was one of two. It picks up a few more at subsequent stops. Coming back around 2:45 in the afternoon, there are usually six or eight. Most of them get off at Fairfield or Vacaville.

At the Pleasant Hill BART station.

The trip takes about 2 hours. It is pleasant, usually. I use the time to read the latest book by Dena Merriam. I have promised her to write a review when I am finished!

A new friend

I have met a woman who lives in Pittsburg. She wanted to meet me in person but can’t drive. So I decided to see how practical it would be to visit her. The entire travel time round trip from my house to her house is about 6 hours. So this is a bit rough for a single-day meeting, but more workable if I can stay overnight.

Parking lot at the Bay Point station where she lives.

My past

I have a lot of emotional attachment to my home town. It is the only place where I have made friendships with girls or women that ever amounted to anything. I feel more “at home” there. Go figure!

Last Friday I visited the place of my birth, 2120 Spaulding. I was surprised to find it under renovation!

A lot of buildings in this area of Berkeley are being preserved, while others have been knocked down and replaced with new construction, often apartments. I found an impression on a sidewalk in the area dated 1922. So many buildings in this area are about 100 years old now.

Fresher in my mind is the time I spent as a boy in the Berkeley Hills. These hills are a prominent visual feature of this area. When I first saw them on the BART before it went underground to go through Berkeley, I cried.

I returned to Berkeley in 1976 and lived there for about 5 years. The BART was running then, and I used it a lot. On this visit, I retraced my steps along the streets I knew so well back then, and thought a bit of the people I used to know.

Skylight in the North Berkeley BART.

I used to shop at the Co-op supermarket. It has now been transformed into a little urban Target…

Next door was the Co-op Credit Union. Now it is a Mexican restaurant where I enjoyed an early lunch of tacos and horchata. I had to eat them outside, but the weather was very nice.

I used to live in an apartment building at 1951 Chestnut. It, too, has been renovated.

I was on the third floor, this side, and had a very nice view of the city. Across the street was a “quadruplex” (four apartments in one building). A memorable event in my early adult Berkeley life was when a new woman moved into the upper right apartment and walked through her new abode clothesless, apparently unaware that she could be seen from my building!

Across the street from my building was the Finnish Hall, and next to it was a house that included a rear separated apartment, not uncommon in these neighborhoods.

This is where my friend Lenora Warkentin (an accomplished flutist) lived. My second girlfriend also played the flute, as have several other girls or women who I have found attractive over the years!

The gardens of Berkeley are know for their exuberant messiness and colors. This is a perfect time of year to catch many flowers blooming. I also saw several hummingbirds.

Eucalyptus flowers.

On this trip I visited Orinda. As children, on our drives through the tunnel to visit the Piersons in Walnut Creek (now Lafayette) we passed by Orinda probably hundreds of times, but never stopped there.

It has a touristy feel to it, yet most people there this day seemed to be locals. The “theater” actually functions as a food court. It is very cute.

I stopped by a Peet’s Coffee to get a sweet snack, and found this display in their store.

“My parents had a Chemex!” I told the barista. He was surprised, and didn’t know the design was that old. It is in fact older than I am, having been invented in 1941.

COVID

The COVID scare hangs over our planet like a dark storm cloud. It seems so out of place in the sunny springtime of my hometown! The population of the planet were set up for this, and most have fallen for the mainstream story hook, line and sinker.

Here a young mom helps her little one play in the park, wearing a mask! This is so unnecessary it almost makes me sick.

Most people in the Bay Area wear masks everywhere. I even saw a young lady out running in a mask! There are signs everywhere stating that this is our civic duty. It reminds me of a notable episode of The Prisoner (TV show) where the hero was being pressured to conform to meaningless “community standards.” Those writers knew what this was all about! They had probably read 1984 (even if I haven’t)!

I have to keep my mask on while on public transportation, so that meant hours wearing the terrible thing while riding the bus and BART. Cruel and unusual punishment.

Expanding slowly into a “new” future

The BART trains are some of the most futuristic transit vehicles I have seen in any western city. Every door is bent to fit the contour of the car, an enormous engineering complication that the Sacramento light rail does not share.

BART has been running long trains every half hour. Sacramento has been running short trains every 15 minutes. I prefer the Sacramento approach. I have not been on BART during rush hour, but it used to be VERY crowded at those times of day.

I am not familiar with BART’s setup, but all these public transit systems are heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars, and so have the income to employ drivers, mechanics, etc., even though there are practically no riders. This is a very strange situation for me to watch, since it makes so little sense economically, yet I rely on these systems to get around.

Such systems are part of the “new normal” of corporate hegemony on Earth. They (including our governments, which after all are corporations, too, and operate on a similar pattern) invest in what they want to invest in to suit their corporate plans. The population is persuaded to follow along. Like lambs to the slaughter.

More and more land and housing is in corporate hands. My friend lives in relatively new “apartment homes” like those in the photo below. Such large developments are all over the Bay Area.

Spirit sighs

Dena Merriam’s latest book covers four different lifetimes of a woman seeking high spiritual awareness. I am only half way through it.

The first lifetime happens in Vedic India, 900 years BC. Dena is a member of a wild jungle clan that retreats to an urban area in the face of invaders. There she meets a Brahmin who she falls in love with but cannot marry due to his vows of celibacy.

Later she finds herself in China in the 700s, a woman friend of famous Tang poet Li Bai. Li seems to be the reincarnation of the Brahmin she knew 1600 years earlier. In this life she learns all about the Dao. The book then traces her earlier experiences in China.

These stories speak to me! They speak of great longing, great sadness, and great love for self, for another, for children and parents, for community, mankind and the natural world. I have shared bits of these stories with my best friend. She is touched by them, but also confused. Most of us had no idea that our experience could be so vast and varied! I consider this awareness key to solving our problems here on Earth. If the enemies of Spirit can keep this awareness from growing sufficiently here, they will win and have us as their slaves. Although many of us would rebel and move on, it seems clear that large numbers are fully prepared for this “new” form of slavery and are completely willing to embrace it.

And so I sigh!

Reflections off a new building cast a pattern on a neighboring wall.

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4 Responses to “I Visit My Hometown”

  1. Ekaterina Says:

    What an interesting visit, comes so alive. Interesting to read about the writer too: yes, there is more to life that what we can see.
    Glad to read you made a new friend!

  2. Concepcion Perez Says:

    Quick note: Before lockdowns, BART was running ~ every 20 minutes (not every 30 minutes). Before lockdowns, BART had a daily ridership of ~ 400K. (It was not the empty ride, that it can be nowadays…) Before lockdowns, BART was running till ~ midnight. (It was not ending early, as it does nowadays ~ 9 pm…) Regards Berkeley: 110% agreement. I love Berkeley… XOXO

  3. Larry Visits…background | The Life Force Blog Says:

    […] took almost 2 hours, but the bus was ridiculously inexpensive, and it went right to a BART station. My first trips using that bus have already been documented […]

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