Take a walk to a new place: a personal try
October 31 – Halloween day
I wandered the streets and neighborhoods of North and West Berkeley, basking in the late afternoon glow of the setting sun and the festive fervor in the air.
The sidewalks strewn with fallen leaves were crowded with families and children, most in costumes, carrying bags of candy and treats. I’ve seen countless Hogwarts students, pirates, ladybugs, and even a squid or two. Even some of the dogs accompanying their families were in costumes.
The houses were also dressed for the evening. Ghosts, cobwebs, bats, pumpkins, gravestones and more covered the yards, fences, and walls of the buildings I walked past. Halloween was everywhere I looked.
I had to live vicariously through others by embarking on this Halloween walk. I was alone and very out of place – a young adult, not in costume, skirting family groups and hordes of trick-or-treaters – but this walk filled me with joy. The joy of observing the joy of others, of remembering my Halloween festivities as a child, made this Halloween incredibly special.
Some people offered me candy in their candy bowls, but I refused. The candy was not for me. And I just wanted to experience Halloween through the prism of the Bay Area community, separate from that of the campus.
As was the case on Halloween night, walking takes me physically and mentally out of the college bubble into the ‘real’ world of families, communities and lives beyond the Berkeley campus in the region. from the bay. As college students, it can be easy to narrow down to campus and the areas directly adjacent to it, but there is so much to see beyond its borders.
Sidewalks, shops, roadside plants, everything is new, although I’ve seen them before. Plants grow, rain falls, erosion occurs, things change.
In one of my classes this semester, we read a poem called âThey Didn’t Get Meâ by Alma Luz Villanueva. A part goes:
“the streets are watered
oil & blood & rain & tears & dog poop & not &
children’s games & lives & piss & stunted treesâ¦ â
This is what I see the most when I take long, winding walks outside of campus. I walk past restaurants, parking lots, grocery stores, gas stations, libraries, schools, parks, basketball courts. I see birds in the trees above me, cats lounging on the porches, dogs panting on the other side of the fences. I cross countless people and I ask myself questions. How many people have walked where I am walking now? How many dogs have peed on this hydrant? Who are they? Where are they now? I want to know.
It’s all too easy to get carried away with campus life, get overwhelmed and forget about everything else. When I’m upset I like to go to the Fire Trails east of campus. From the point of view of Fire Trails, I find the context. I find clarity. I find calm.
Campus is no bigger than a postage stamp, and the Campanile is no bigger than a match. It is a small corner of the wider bay area, an unassuming strip of roads, buildings, trees and houses, all merging and merging, blanketed by the haze and fog of the bay of l ‘East. There is no clear distinction between campus and the rest of the bay, so why should we live our lives like we do?
Walking takes me out of my comfort zone and places me in new environments, new settings, new situations. I can see new places, meet new people, and develop a sense of belonging here in the Bay Area.
There is so much to see and enjoy beyond campus, and exploring helps me think more realistically and optimistically about life after college. These walks remind me that college is not everything and that I don’t need to panic to graduate. Life goes on outside of college.
Once, I was a kid completely immersed in trick-or-treat, walking squarely through the streets of the neighborhood, costume and candy in place. Now, I am a student, I walk through families and I look back with nostalgia on my childhood not so long ago. Maybe, in a few years, I’ll be one of the parents, accompanying my child (ren) in their treats.
But for now, I’ll just keep walking, letting my feet connect more with the Bay Area and its people for the time I have left as a student at UC Berkeley.
Contact Lia Keener at [emailÂ protected]