How To Feel Better In Berkeley

After my whiny, desperately unhappy blog post about not adjusting well after my move, things turned around, or at least I’m heading in the right direction. That’s the result of members of the class of 2013 coming out of the woodwork to tell me my reaction was totally normal, and of me getting off my ass and trying a little harder.  I still don’t know if I want to settle here and that is a decision for another day, but for the time being there is plenty to explore, experiment with, and enjoy here in the East Bay. So here’s my list of ways to feel better in Berkeley:

1. Call your damn parents.

Image2. Make every cashier laugh by telling the same joke about living in Connecticut being like living in a J. Crew catalogue when they ask where you moved from. After a while you won’t even stutter on delivery.


3. Go buy yourself some stupid t-shirt at the local store for tourists/visiting prospective Cal students. Judge yourself for now owning an item of clothing that has the word “Hella” on it, but feel miraculously better. Tacky retail therapy for the teenager in all of us.


4. Grab a ridiculous artisan grilled cheese at The Melt. Nothing will ever come close to Whey Station, but The Melt has PBR and mac and cheese right in the sandwich. People-watch through the window at all the students and locals wandering up Telegraph. The stereo system plays Metric and this will remind you of WESU.


5. Always stop to gawk at the sunset. The fog does funny things to it, and as your boyfriend says, it is comforting to know this is the same sun you used to watch color the sky on the East Coast.


6. As often as possible, put on red lipstick and your leather jacket and just go walk around. You will not feel safe everywhere, but someone will without fail compliment your choice of accessories.

Image7. When your boyfriend visits, create enough memories to get you through the following two weeks. Waiting for your order to be filled at the In-N-Out on Fisherman’s Wharf behind sixty tourists. Browsing the selection at Half Priced books and Fantastic Comics. Eating sliders on Shattuck and making fun of the strobe lights. Long distance makes everything matter more. Wobble on your own two feet without his shoulder to brace against for balance, but you are having growing pains and this is normal.


8. Record everything, no matter how dumb you may feel.


9. Master riding the BART. Prefer to stand, furling your fingers around a ceiling strap and rocking with the train car. It isn’t quite like the Manhattan subway but it gets close enough to lull you into peace. Check out your reflection in the glass—yes, you do look like you belong here, if anyone is paying attention. Even if you walk with the sharp defensive strut of the East Coast.


10. Wonder why you convinced yourself you couldn’t do this. Wave goodbye to your crisis of confidence. Stop worrying if you want to stay through the fall and focus instead on the fact that you haven’t stopped writing since you landed three weeks ago. Focus on just enjoying today for the first time in years.

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Ella Dawson is a sex and culture critic and a digital strategist. She drinks too much Diet Coke.

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