Oakland has this amazing coastal air. The mornings are cool and the afternoons are bright and beautiful. Little old men, hipsters, and mommies alike gather in one of seven coffee shops within walking distance of our place to converse each morning, and yes, you can often get a pretty amazing breakfast at these places as well which is not as gross as it sounds to a Portlander. There are several hidden "sanctuary" spots although I will not name for both the person who reads my blog and is not in Oakland and to keep the local secret a ... secret! People are super friendly, especially when we go to the Rose Garden and see families in our neighborhood meeting and chatting. Plus we one of our neighbors is this great little home for the disabled and there is always plenty of activity there throughout the day with people saying HI or BYE as we stroll along. There are magical trees in our neighborhood. I don't know what they're called nor have I ever seen them in the Northwest, but they are stunning, and when the light comes through them it's a spiritual experience. And when I am really seeking quietness and a holy place I go to the Mountain View Cemetery for a stroll (it's like a giant park) and listen to the silence. I really needed some of this space to think when I was in grad school and ended up seeking therapy for a while only to find out that my brain was really overstimulated while living in LA and space was exactly what I needed to cure it. The space to just be. And imagine. And when I'm in that place I naturally pray. Which is funny because I wouldn't say that's always the easiest thing for me. I do miss my family so much. But I went to one of these quiet spots today. And when I came home I skyped with my parents-in-law. I think I might be falling in love. With Oakland!