I loved going to Cal. My experience and the friendships I made there completely shaped the person I am today. The energy of campus and the Berkeley streets is something I associated with college campuses so imagine my surprise when I showed up to Northwestern for grad school and it felt like a ghost town in comparison! Over Labor Day weekend, Mike and I went up to the Bay to celebrate the wedding of his old coworker and we spent a few days being tourists and visiting friends.
I hadn’t visited campus after graduating many times since living in Chicago and then New York meant that any time I was in California, it was usually spent in LA with family. Magically, my good friend Cristina (who was also the officiant at our wedding) just moved back to the Bay and we got to spend the day in Berkeley and walked around campus. First stop? Zachary’s Chicago Pizza on College Ave. I wanted Mike to try it since he’s from Chicago and I love Zachary’s (well, loved in college, which sometimes can be misleading when you’re remembering Top Dog hot links consumed at 2am to be the best thing on Earth). The verdict: Chicago pizza is denser and cheesier in Chicago but Zachary’s has a fresher taste since it has more tomatoes and you can eat more than 1 slice without feeling like you’re going to explode. So Chicago still wins.
Next, we walked around Berkeley and reminisced like geeks while Mike and Will had to endure our “remember this?” ramblings. We got coffee at Cafe Strada (where I once overheard a conversation in Latin) and made our way in a loop on campus.
As we rounded the corner to Memorial Glade, we paused and looked at each other. Is that what we think it is?? Yes, yes, in fact, it IS a game of Quidditch about the start. We struck up a conversation with one of the students and then what took place was probably the most hilarious conversation around Quidditch. “Well, we can’t fly, obviously, so we just run around with brooms in between our legs. It’s uncomfortable at first but you get used to it.” The Snitch, which is a flying gold ball in the book, takes the form of a player wearing special yellow Snitch shorts with a contraption velcroed to the back that looks like a flag football flag with a ball at the end of it. So that player runs around campus while getting chased until the opposing team pulls off the velcroed ball. You can get the shorts from the International Quidditch Association. Pretty incredible. All the hoops where handmade from PVC pipes and what looked like hula hoops. Only in Berkeley…
After that we came up on Lower Sproul Plaza, where we found a dance group holding auditions for the semester. AND, it was our old dance group, Danceworx!! Woohoo! Now, Cristina and I totally geeked out and started trying to follow along to the tap routine that was being taught. One student runs over to us and starts to tell us more about the group but we explain that I was President and Cristina was Treasurer back in the day! So we head over and meet the current officers and they tell us about their Facebook and YouTube pages. Now there are a ton more officers whereas we only had 3. It made us feel old when we mentioned we used to have old videos of our performances…but they were on VHS tapes. Wah wah. They were like wowww, 2003, that’s a long time ago, we don’t know anyone from back then. Ha! Meanwhile, Will strikes up a conversation with the strange man watching the auditions: “they’re goddesses!”
It was such a nice day out in Berkeley but we had an inkling that the city was going to be covered in fog. The original plan was to head over to Golden Gate Bridge but once we checked the traffic, it was a no go. Instead, we drove over to Indian Rock in North Berkeley and got a gorgeous view of the entire Bay with the fog rolling in. Indian Rock is this huge boulder formation in the middle of a residential neighborhood and a great place to check out the view.
It was such a beautiful day and so nice to spend it with our good friends. I will miss this!