Emeryville Amy

This blog will be a combination of my favorite places in the Bay Area and abroad, memoirs, recipes, restaurant reviews and travel experiences.

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Location: Emeryville, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States

Friday, November 11, 2005

Home Sweet Home


Home Sweet Home, Home at Last, Home is Where the Heart Is, There's No Place Like Home. All of the cliches ring true. I was giddy with excitement as I approached the Bay Area on the train. I was so excited yesterday to be coming back home after being on the road for 7 weeks. It felt much longer than that in some ways. The sun was setting over Mt. Tamalpais as the train made its way to Emeryville from Martinez. It went past the refineries and factories and Carquinez Bridge. As it made its way past El Cerrito I waved to all of my friends who live there now. I noticed that as we approached Berkeley the graffiti on the back sides of the buildings lining the tracks increased. In fact there was more graffiti there than any other place I saw on my trip around the country. I had never seen it before because I am never down by the tracks that close except for at 4th St. I was wondering what the people from Oklahoma who were coming to the Bay Area to visit were thinking as we went past some pretty junky areas and of course all of that graffiti. I wanted to tell them that most of it looks much better than what their first impressions of it must be.

As I was walking in on the train platform I saw the Amtrak employee who sold me all of my tickets before I left on my journey. It felt a little like coming full circle seeing him at the very end of my trip. Tim picked me up and we swung by Trader Joes so I could grab some food for my empty refrigerator at home. When we got off the elevator on my floor I turned the wrong way and Tim had to say, "Isn't it this way?" I was headed in the direction that I would have gone if I were going to my old condo. I moved at the end of January to this condo after living in the same complex but in a different building for 10 years. I guess part of me remembered my old place more than my new one.

I was delighted to see again where I live. It felt familiar but also surprisingly new to me as if I had forgotten what my condo was like. I wasn't expecting to feel so disoriented upon arriving home. It did feel great to cook in my own kitchen and sleep in my own bed and have different clothes to wear. I slept great for a full 10 hours. When I went to my front door this morning the Chronicle was there waiting for me. I made coffee and sat in my glider chair on my balcony and looked out at the yacht harbor and the Golden Gate Bridge and felt very thankful.

I went for a walk around the marina like I have done most days for the past 11 years. It felt more familiar to me than my condo but even there things were different. The bathrooms had been torn down and new ones were under construction. After taking pictures of everything for 7 weeks I think that I look for photo opportunities, for beautiful places and things, all of the time. I have become more attuned to trying to really see everything and take it in. It is as if my senses are all tuned to "high". I didn't bring my camera with me but I wish that I had. I delighted in seeing the beauty of the bay and of all of the wildlife in the marina here. There were several snowy egrets standing motionless on the rocks by the water waiting for the perfect fish to come swimming by. Sea gulls and sandpipers and shorebirds were busy along the shore. Hundreds and hundreds of salt water ducks and cormorants were bobbing in the water as they visit here on their migration route. But my favorite birds to see are the pelicans as they sail along and then dive bomb for fish. A group of children that were on holiday from school were delighted by them as well. We stood near the breaker rocks and watched as they circled around and then crashed into the water. Every time they hit the water with a splash the kids clapped and laughed. Such simple joy.

It has been an amazing experience to see our country the way that I did. I feel that my heart and imagination have been stirred for the cities and places that I visited. I will think and feel differently than I did before I went. I am sure it will take me awhile to process everything. Just sorting through the 4500 or so photos will take some time. I am sure that I will need time to "recover" from traveling too. It takes a lot of energy to constantly adjust to new places and public transit systems and staying with different people. I had my guard up to a certain extent to make sure that I was safe in all of these unfamiliar places and to not have anything stolen or left behind. I did forget one of my two pairs of shoes in Savannah but that was the only thing that I lost. My passport, computer, wallet, cell phone and other belongings made it home safely. So now I can breathe a sigh of relief.

I am glad that I took the Amtrak when I did because Bush is seriously talking about cutting off the federal funding for Amtrak and if that happens there won't be anymore passenger rail as it stands now. I think that would be a huge shame and that they should pour more money into it and work at increasing the rider-ship instead of cutting it off. Taking the train is 4 times more efficient in terms of fuel per rider than airplanes. It does take a LOT longer to get places but that might be a good thing for some people in our fast paced society. I am grateful to have had this experience and I hope to be able to share much of my experiences with many of you. Now that I am getting techie, I can even put together slideshows to music with my pictures... so more to come in the future. It's good to be home.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome home Ms. Amy! Glad to read of your happy return to your digs and environs. Seeing the photo fo the sunset behind Mt. Tam and reading about the pelicans diving gave me a twinge of homesickness. Thanks very much for sharing your awesome train travel adventures via your blog. It's been wonderful. Blessings in the next leg of your new adventures!

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