Berkeley is hardly my second home, but I am so comfortable here and in No. 1's apartment that it's beginning to feel like it. We usually stay in a hotel when we visit, so we feel like visitors, but because I'm staying at "home" and cooking in the kitchen and playing with the resident cat, I don't feel so much like a visitor.
Today, No. 1 and I knitted for a while, using yarn we bought at a great yarn shop yesterday, and then we walked to Shattuck, a street full of cafes and restaurants and shops. We had lunch at Cafe Gratitude, which is so completely Berkeley. If you're sitting in the Midwest and imagining what Berkeley might be like, it's this place. Cafe Gratitude serves organic vegan food, some raw and some cooked, and the place is decorated with inspirational signs and symbols. On the wall near our table, there was a huge poster of a girl looking at her reflection in a stream, and the caption read, "Can you surrender to how beautiful you are?" There are cards at each table with questions meant to spark conversation, and you are free to discuss the introspective subjects with your table mates, or you can bag the whole thing and just eat.
Items on the menu have names like I Am Vibrant Sauteed Greens and I Am Fabulous Seasonal Lasagna. I ordered the I Am Accepting Sushi Bowl, and No. 1 ordered the I Am Magical Veggie Burger. When the server brought our meals to the table, he set the sushi bowl in front of me and said, "You are accepting," and of course, No. 1 was magical. I confess I rolled my eyes a bit, but then I was able to use the phrase, "I am accepting" a few times throughout lunch. I have to tell you, even if you think this is complete BS, when someone tells you you are accepting, you find yourself questioning if the comment you are about to make is indeed accepting or if it's judgmental. At least that's how I reacted to the experience. I'm not sure how one would determine if she is behaving in a magical manner or not. The sushi bowl was amazing, by the way. I chose quinoa instead of rice, and it was mixed with avocado, kale, and nori; and oddly, it tasted like sushi in a general sense.
After lunch, we walked down the street to an art gallery that sells really great crafts made by local artisans. There was an asymmetrical leather bag that is the bag of my dreams, and I wanted it like anything, but I didn't feel like I should spend $150 on such an impulsive and unnecessary item. Turns out, if you walk around the corner from this shop, you find the entrance to the On Sale shop where we discovered some wonderful jewelry and pottery. I bought a tiny earring and an interesting pin, and I bought four cool coffee mugs for No. 1's kitchen. She chose nice ones, don't you think?
Then, we went to Love At First Bite for cupcakes and then walked back home to have coffee in the new mugs. For dinner, we may walk to Mint Leaf, an Indian restaurant, or maybe to the Thai place next to it or maybe the tapas place next to that. Hey, it's Berkeley. It's the Gourmet Ghetto. Dream it up, and it's here, and it's almost like home.