When I finally started to visit Oakland regularly, after some initial skittishness, I fell in love with it. I couldn’t really put my finger on why until my relationship ended and I went to therapy figure some things out. I realized that I’ve been searching for a community for the last 13 years and have been trying and failing to find that sense of community at work. When I visited Oakland, went to First Friday, walked Lake Merritt, talked to the people at the corner store, that sense of community found me. I felt like I was home. I don’t think it’s coincidence that I felt that sense of belonging in a place that wasn’t so homogeneous. Some part of me felt free to relax and breathe. It was ok to be me, there was nobody I had to make comfortable with my existence.