Discovering Oakland and Remembering 4.28.14 / by Emily Holmes

I just returned from an all-gal's weekend to the East Bay to visit my dear old girl friend Carrie. I brought Riley with me when Brad was out of town for a bachelor party. The lil one was a champ on the flight and overall, the entire weekend. It's kind of amazing when you trot a not-quite 2 year old onto a plane for a 2-day visit with people she barely knows. I should mention they also have a dog who is skittish around toddlers. Ripe for lots of baby melt downs.

I have to hand it to Riley, though, she was absolutely great. She took some time to warm up, but became friendly and social with our hosts within an hour and came to love Q-Tip (the dog) like her own. I write all this because as some of you know, my times with R have been peppered with drama in the past. This is not to say that we've crossed a line and all is merry from here on out, but I was so glad to have had such a loving and fun weekend with my daughter, as well as to share her with one of my oldest/dearest friends and explore a new part of the world together.

I have to also admit that I love Rockridge. The craftsmen homes, the tree lined streets, the family-friendly street vibe, the cute boutique and appealing eateries. I know it's a bit bourgeois, but I felt very at home there. I could imagine a life there and yet, I have no clue what I'd be doing. Music travels well enough, but there's the obvious higher standard of living there that would likely require me returning to work full time.

While I was there, my friend Carrie asked me what do you think are the biggest differences between northern and southern California? I had a lot of reactions as we drove above South of Market toward Hayes Valley.

The air is cleaner. The fog is stunning in the Bay Area. The architecture is different. The populace and its characteristics favor different things--like LA has a lot of beautiful people and SF has some of the smartest people I know. Folks dress differently. You live a lot more in your car down south and there's more people in alternative transit methods up north. SF has a small town feel in ways and LA feels vast and sprawling. Both are neighborhood-y. Is one better than the other? I guess it depends on who you are.

I lived in San Francisco from 1997-2001. It was the absolute perfect time in my life to be there. I was one year out of college and listless. I was "trained" to be on a strict career path and found that I generally disliked that way of life. I wanted the freedom to be freelance without the pains of scraping by to afford the lifestyle. At the time, (pre-original boom) San Francisco offered this kind of life. I remember having $495/month rent in a two story Victorian flat with 3 roommates, one of whom was my boyfriend at the time. I also scored a job early on first at a newspaper and second at a now-defunct web browser ( writing weekly web site reviews. I wrote freelance film, music and lifestyle pieces on the side. I made my month's expenses in one week's pay that usually required working about 3 days.

But times change...

Then as R napped this afternoon, I had some down time and caught a few Sex and the City episodes. Rapid fire dialogue. Fast paced adventures. Full of vanity, social climbing and love affair chasing drama. It was dizzy and made me smile. It also reminded me that my life is NOTHING like that now. I felt a little misty for the old vibe. I shared a lot of that kind of life with my friend Carrie who I just saw. How both of us have changed and how much our lives don't resemble that show anymore.

I know NYC is not SATC, nor was my life a reflection of the girls on the show, but I did have some fabulous times with some amazing ladies there. I dressed better. My hair and makeup were almost always done more than here. I wore heels a lot more. I went to new bars and restaurants with some regularity. I saw a lot more live music and played out far more. My life was external to my home. Now my home is my base with the external being far less visited. I'm a mom. I don't know what else I am sometimes. It's frustrating. Then again, I always felt like I was running to keep up the best appearance of what I was in NYC. Or maybe the city just speeds things up so fast that you doubt who you are all the time...

Discovering and remembering are important to me right now. In this time of personal growth and transition, I need both to help me sift through the shaky territory. I'm hoping in time that it will all make sense. In the meantime, I have a wonderful daughter to challenge me to see new things and old friends like Carrie to remind me of who I was and who they know me to be.