Now here is what it means to me.
I moved to Oakland in January 2014 after one of the worst years of my life. It remains in the top 3 worst years (more on that in a forthcoming post). I spent 2013 getting what I wished for. I had moved to New England, which had been my dream, a relationship I was trying to figure out how to remove myself from while also trying to make it work had ended, and I lived near two old cemeteries where I spent the majority of my time. Brokenhearted in a town where everyone my age was married in the dark, sparse wilderness was not the sweet torture I had assumed it would be. It was just that boring drudge torture that we always forget about.
My apartment was adorable. My job was terrible. I felt ugly, out of sorts, and I couldn’t figure out how to get to the major city where I felt I would feel at home — Boston.
Boston and I were never meant to be. Thus I haunted those two cemeteries on my countless walks through the darkness.
I moved to Oakland having never been to the Bay Area. I had never thought of myself as a California person. I had spent a few days in San Diego once but it was a trip punctuated with my boyfriend freaking out about me leaving him for a week and probably cheating on me (found that out a few years later). At the time I was saturated in a type of codependence I had never imagine I could get myself into. Upon my return to California, I was 5 years older and had less of a sense of self. I needed change. I took a job in San Francisco, flew out to get an apartment, managed to get a place over the weekend, and drove across the country a week later with my mother and cat in tow.
I spent the first several weeks of my residency in Oakland wandering my neighborhood, dazzled by the people and the weather, and getting the hang of my new job.
When I stumbled upon Mountain View Cemetery, I felt at home. The blending of my New England experience with my West Coast one. It big and sprawling and beautiful and creepy. I hauled myself up to one of the monuments and looked out over the bay.
Sitting on the stone bench built into that old robber baron’s grave and looking out over the water was when I knew I had made the right choice. That this had been the wave crashing onto a new path I couldn’t have predicted.
Since I moved here I’ve become a published writer, had a series of job changes, found a gorgeous community of friends, and had some amazing love.
It’s been a really good time.
I still frequent Mountain View as I am still a goth constantly using it for dates and entertainment. So while Mountain View works very hard to make the families that live here see it as a welcoming park for people to grieve and see the beauty of art and nature, it’s worked its magic on me. It’s a huge part of my time here and it helped me feel at home when I was trying to figure out if all of these had been real or just a dream.
If you’re in the Oakland area, be sure to check it out. If you’re looking to follow more of my work, I hope to write about more spots that mean the world to me.
Happy Holidays, everyone.