Dear Oakland
Saneta
82

Dear Saneta, my husband (20+ years in Oakland/Berkeley) and I (only 5) recently bought a house in Oakland. It was a pure coincidence, crazy luck, incredible opportunity fixer-upper. I never thought I’d buy a house — never had even close to enough money, was not even interested (because I like quality of life, and travel, and dislike the American obsession with owning a home -which is never really about a home, but about tax write-offs and wealth building and what not)…but it happened, which is fantastic because we fell in love with this house, and because, like you, I love Oakland so much. And because we were barely able to rent any more — with a big dog and (for Bay Area) relatively modest incomes, we were constantly outbid on rentals, and refused to offer more $$$ to greedy landlords so we could beat the elderly and the poor and the working families. At any rate, here in Oakland I really thought I found my peace of comfort (everything you mention so resonates), and really looked forward to contributing the ways I could. And then…Uber moved in. Everyone congratulated us on beating the housing rush…and I just wanted to cry. And not because I adamantly hate Uber (a fad)…it’s just that I wanted it to, at least somewhat, stay the place you described. Oakland was the first place I felt at home since coming here during a bombing of my country. When you immigrate under harsh circumstances, you want a place that feels like home, and I never thought I’d find one…and just when I felt like I did…well, like it or not, Oakland won’t be that place the way things are going. And I can’t even complain about it — while for me it is a matter of a heartbreak, for many it’s a matter of pure survival. Which, as it happens, breaks my heart. As does your writing, but it also comforts me, because it is truth. Thank you.