"Why are you telling him the family secrets??? We dont know him!!"
- Inebriated woman on a late night bus objecting to someone telling me about the people in the East Bay
Every lunch hour, the seagulls congregate on the tall white tower of the Berkeley High School, above the park of Berkeley's City Hall.
As the waves of students head back in after lunch, they start taking off one by one, circling and then landing to partake of the food left behind by the teens...
Once the feeding frenzy is over, the gulls take off and assemble in formation, wheeling over the area once and then flapping as one out to sea.
They only do this on weekdays. And only on mid-days.
I used to think that the gulls had developed this in recently, but Ive come to realize that traditions run deep in this small town (Oakland/Berkeley). This has probably been going on for decades.
When I first got to Berkeley, the people I got to know where overwhelmingly of the Burning Man bohemian type.
They made me uncomfortable, frankly. They seemed to embody the hedonistic, anything goes mentality Id thought was the apparent ethos of the San Francisco area.
Their preoccupatioin seemed to be the searching out for parties and events, particularly group sex parties.
There was one anamoly that made me especially wary.
People of color and other ethnicities were strikingly under-represented in the group, even though the folk are seeming inclusionary.
The people Ive met over the summer however, are different.
Seemingly disparate at first glance and encounter, you find after awhile that they are CONNECTED to everyone. Of all different ethnicities, they almost all grew up together, hung out together and stayed in the area.
Guam, mexico, the phillipines, Indian, Korean, the South.. they knew each other.
And after awhile, the ties that bind seemed far more permanent than the flashy bohemians, most of whom were not FROM the area.
I like these people better.