A Trip To Oakland

Normally, we drive down whenever we go and visit my parents in Oakland, but I found a really great price on an airline ticket online last minute and flew down for the first time, since we moved to Oregon, to celebrate my Mom's most recent birthday. And it turned out to be a serious adventure, because, for the cheap price, I flew from Southern Oregon up to Seattle for a layover, before switching planes and flying to Portland for another layover, and then switching planes again and finally arriving in Oakland. So I got to see the entire West Coast, in the course of a day, from above. I saw Portland, pictured above...And Mount Rainier...

I saw the lovely Puget Sound...

...before touching down in Seattle...

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...where I had an hour-and-a-half layover and walked around the airport looking at things:

...While I was there, there was even live music playing...a band called The Winterlings:

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Then I was back in the air again, heading from Seattle to Portland. Along the way, I got to see Mt. St. Helens from above, which I thought was really interesting to see. I had seen it in person once on a camping trip, but seeing it from above, you could really get a larger sense of scale...and take the whole thing in...

After touching down in Portland, with another layover there, I got on my third and final plane of the day, and finally, at last, arrived in Oakland, my hometown...the city I grew up, where my parents still live:

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My parents picked me up at the Oakland International Airport that evening, and, upon the drive to their house, I took this photo, above, of Lake Merritt from the car...

While visiting in Oakland, we celebrated my Mom's birthday, with a lovely supper and a lemon coconut birthday cake. Then, she opened her presents, and she just loved the scarf that I had knitted for her (after figuring out how to knit recently with a library book and Mr. Livings' help) that I gave her as one of her birthday presents from me. Here is a picture of the two of us, below, taken after the birthday party, with her wearing her new scarf:

I think this photo of the two of us is very sweet...

On another day of my visit, I got to spend time with my beloved brother, pictured above. It was so good to spend time with him.

While in Oakland, I got to see and do many fun things. My mom and I went to the bakery we have been going to my whole life, for special occasions, like we always did on our traditional mother-daughter days...

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I also asked my Mom if she would take me around Oakland to some of my favorite spots that I don't get to see that often anymore, now that I live in Oregon. There are so many places in Oakland I just love so much...We went to the rose garden:

...a lovely place I have been coming to my whole life...

We also saw the flowers in Mountain View...

...And I saw the Grand Lake Theater, a magnificent and special theater I have been watching films at all my life...

We also got out and looked at both murals on Piedmont Avenue, as well as passed various Oakland murals that I have known since I was young...

Like this mural, above, under a freeway overpass by the lake, that was painted in the eighties, that I have been looking at, from the passenger seat in the car, my whole life. I saw it again today, as my Mom and I were driving around. We were stopped at the light, and I, in the passenger seat, gazed out the window at it, and was struck by the memory of being so very little, gazing at it from the same spot, though it was newly painted at that time. 

...I also gazed, out the car window, at the Oakland giraffe murals I have known my whole life too...

We also passed many places in Oakland that hold so many memories for me...

...like this building, above, that was an ice cream shop when I as a kid, and where, as a little livings, my parents would take me each year on my birthday for my free birthday ice cream cone...I have so many memories of sitting inside that building, at a table beside the window, eating my birthday ice cream as a child...

These steps, above, also hold a lot of memories for me too. They are the steps of a building on Grand Avenue in Oakland, that, when I was young, was a dance studio, and always had dancers on the steps, in their dance shoes and dance clothes, stretching whenever we would drive past. Whenever I see those steps, even now, I always see those dancers from long ago upon them too...

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And in terms of a memory I will never forget, we also drove down the street in downtown Oakland where we were standing outside, waiting for my Mom to get off of work, when the earthquake hit in 1989. As I described, in "Oakland: My Hometown," I, when the earthquake hit, was standing outside on the sidewalk with my Dad and brother, waiting for my Mom to get off of work, across from the old Emporium Capwell store, where we watched, as the earth shook, its bricks crumble off the building as people ran out and as, at the same time, the huge sheets of glass in the windows of the bank we stood beside, just quaked back and forth, looking as if they would shatter." (This photo, below, was taken afterwards when we were downtown again at at a later time and saw the damage).

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My mom and I drove that same street, and I thought of the earthquake again. Then we turned off that street to drive through Chinatown on our way to Alameda to visit my Grandma (my Mom's mom) who moved, over a year ago, from the Chicago area, where she lived all my life, out to the West Coast to be closer to my Mom and family.

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...and visited with my Grandma at her new place...

On the same day that we visited my Grandma in Alameda, my Mom and I also went to our favorite thrift store, the one we have been going to for decades...

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Here, above, is a picture of my Mom in the distance on the hunt for bargains and treasures - one of her favorite things to do...

The next day, my parents and I went to visit my other Grandma, (my Dad's mom), someone I was very close to growing up. Upon our drive to see her, I got to go over the new portion of the Bay Bridge for the first time. My Dad, in the picture below, is driving:

And, in the picture, below, I also got to see where portions of the old span of bridge were being removed:

And I also got to see downtown San Francisco from the bridge, pictured below...It is such a very special city...It forever has my heart...

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Then we headed to Pacifica, where my Grandma had lived with her second-husband for the past fourteen years. In Pacifica, we passed the beach where I used to surf back when I still lived in California...(back before almost anyone surfed there - when the water, beach, and parking lot were just about empty every time - that has very much changed in recent years...)

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Here is a picture of me, above, in my wetsuit, from a number of years ago...

Then we arrived at my Grandma's house...

While there, I took this photo of her, above, in such lovely light, in the living room, though I didn't know when I took this photo that it would be the last time I would ever see her, for shortly thereafter she passed away...This is the last photo I ever took of her, and I love that in it she is smiling in such peaceful, lovely light. I am so very glad that I got to see her on this visit and that I got to sit by her and hug her and look into her eyes, and say, I love you, to her...

If you have not yet seen the memorial I made for her, you really should check it out. She was such a very special woman who lived a remarkable life...who I loved so very much...

On the last afternoon of my visit in Oakland, I went for a walk with my Dad. While on our walk, we saw an open house going on, so toured an absolutely lovely house, with such a beautiful stained glass window, pictured above...

...and such lovely light throughout the whole house...

Speaking of light, there was incredible light that I saw from above, when flying from Oakland to return back home. This return flight was a shorter flight then my West Coast adventure down to Oakland, for this return flight only had one layover in Portland. So I flew from Oakland to Portland, where I switched planes, before flying back home to Southern Oregon. Just look at this light...

I am so glad that I was able to get down to Oakland to celebrate my Mom’s most recent birthday with her (it was an important milestone birthday)…and also so glad I got to see my brother and other family members while visiting. And also so very glad that I got to see my beloved Grandma one last time…

And I also feel so lucky that I got to see so much beauty from the sky...This world forever amazes me...all the wonders, big and small, that make this precious life...

(And in thinking about love and appreciation of life, and also in thinking about memory and remembrance, and particularly family and loss (which this song below and its video really captures),  I thought I'd share a song by The Winterlings, (pictured many photos above), a band that I heard for the first time during my layover in Seattle on my flight to Oakland - (I heard them sing this song on that day) - with lyrics that say, "But in the meantime, love I choose to sing…I choose to remember…all of the good things.” It also says, in a line earlier in the song, “We will remember…all of the good things.” For me, personally, this has always been the frame by which I have lived my life - with eyes and memory naturally drawn more to the good things - drawn, not to the dark, but to the light,  so this song really resonated. Listen: All Of The Good Things by The Winterlings).