I arrived in Oakland after 5 hours in a plane from NYC to Phoenix (where I was determined not to spend money that might support the anti-immigration forces) and then another 2 hours to Oakland. There was WiFi on the longer leg, and I did some enjoyable live blogging about the woman next to me who was reading Fifty Shades, and when the battery on my computer gave out, I re-read a book I loved the first time I read it: To the Wedding, by John Berger. I re-read the entire book in almost exactly the time it took to fly to Oakland -- putting it away in my bag, tears in my eyes, as we made the descent.
When I got to Oakland, I rented a car and I drove to Mich and Vered's house, with the goal of getting right out to Redwood Regional Park for a hike, with a plan to run up to Berkeley afterwards for hippie vegan dinner at Cafe Gratitude. What I wasn't counting on, however, was the fact that my iPhone was almost out of charge, so I wouldn't be able to get directions to any of these places. So instead, I drove over to Mariposa Bakery to pick up some dinner for later, and then brought my phone back to charge while I went out for a walk around the neighborhood.
As I was out walking, I thought some more about the elusiveness of joy, and why enjoyment—literally the embodiment of joy—is easier to grasp than joy itself. I enjoyed reading the book, but I didn't feel joy, because I was sitting cramped on a plane. I enjoyed the walk I was taking, but it was also kind of weird and suburban and I still don't really understand Oakland. It's wonderful to be out of New York, but I'm here for a sad occasion, and also Mich is out of town for her birthday. I was thinking about all this as I walked up the hill back to Mich's house, and also, I was thinking, uncharacteristically, how much I would like a beer, and how great it would be if I could find a gluten-free beer. In fact, I had put some money in my pocket when I went out walking, in case I found a store with a beer, but I did not find a store with a beer. In fact, I did not find a store at all.
When I got back to Mich's house I popped my GF bagel in the toaster and put my little salad into a bowl that's related to the bowls I have at my house (Mich and I each grew up with Stonehenge dinnerware -- her with Wild Oat and I with Sun, and now we use these dishes as our every day dishes.) I opened the fridge to see if maybe there might be a GF beer, and there was—a New Planet 3R Raspberry Ale. As I sat down at her table, I realized I was feeling a touch of actual joy -- in Mich's house, with her childhood dishes, with a GF bagel and a GF beer, and the chance to wake up early and go hiking.
Sometimes it turns on a dime.