Dear Oakland…

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I shouldn’t be able to call you mine, but you let me anyway. We met in an unusual circumstance, but then again there isn’t anything usual about you. I was founded on conformity, yet you managed to gradually trump conventionalism with culture. Sure-you aren’t physically my home, but your puzzle pieces have become some of my own. I find you in the five o’clock fog, your airy effervescence slowly spilling over your hills. I find you on any given Tuesday strolling down College Avenue, silently making footprints adjacent to my own on the vibrant gray pavement. I find you in your yet-to-be-tried ethnic food, infusing your people with spices and their roots. I find you in your supporters and your critics, leaving an indelible mark on every mind that has ever blossomed in your corner-stone coffee shops. I find you in your struggle, your room for improvement, your tattered, stringy roots. I find you in every abrupt stop-and-go BART train, rattling as you navigate your entangled branches. I can’t find you in an adjective, a noun, or a verb, only in your ephemeral and eternal presence.

I have pride in your many blemishes. I admire your ability to envelop each identity in acceptance, even the ones that don’t deserve your embrace. I challenge you to establish a balance between your distinct malleability and your deep-seated outlooks. I expect you to continue to you reach out to people like me, who desperately need your culture, your ethnicity, your worldliness. I urge you to push people to break down barriers, to make connections, and to make them last.

Thank you for the little things, for Bakesale, for BART, for Broadway.  Thank you for the big things, for the sense-of-self that a simple glance out the window triggers, for the mundane activities that provoke gratitude, and for the tough questions that incite the innermost introspection.

And to think, it’s only been five years. Hopefully I’ll get to update you in another fifty. Looking forward to it, Oakland.



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