Jed headed off to Portland today, dropping me at Caltrain on his way to the airport. Took the train up to San Francisco, mostly playing Caesar on the way, occasionally enjoying the view out the window. A bus from Caltrain to the BART station (Montgomery, I think), where I bought a few flowers for Karen; I recently learned that Gerbera daisies are her favorite flower. I wish I could be so consistent with flowers; I love them all, or most. But today (and often) irises are my favorites. BART to North Berkeley station, and a few blocks walk to her house. I dropped off my suitcase, lightened my backpack, drank a big glass of orange juice (yum) and headed out again; she was working, and I wanted to tramp around Berkeley a bit. I admire her discipline; she's working (researching or writing) every afternoon. I feel very scattered next to her.
(By the way, I didn't mean to be deliberately obscure yesterday; I did finish that story -- it's just fairly personal, and I'm not sure whether I want to publish it or not. More nonfiction than fiction, though there's some fiction in there too. It'll probably go out eventually, but likely not soon, so if you're on the readers' list, don't hold your breath.)
I just managed to get to Panini in time for lunch. I should explain about Panini. You may or may not know that Kevin did his undergrad at UC Berkeley -- as a result, he has a great fondness for the town, and especially for its restaurants. And he claims that Berkeley has three of the best sandwich shops in the world. (Forgive me if I've told you all this before; it's feeling familiar as I type it :-). One is The Stuffed Inn (which I have been to, and while it's okay, I was not impressed). Another is Panini, in Trumpetvine Court on Shattuck, near Jupiter's. And a third is something I can't remember.
I've been meaning to get to Panini forever, but in the three years I lived in Oakland, I somehow never managed to be in Berkeley at lunchtime on a weekday -- which was the only time it was open. (I think it's open Saturdays now, but it wasn't then). So today I was going to try one more time, and I just managed to make it there by 2, and they were closing up but they did sell me a sandwich (turkey, cheese, chutney, etc. on a seeded roll) and orangina. And I sat outside and ate it while reading Iain M. Banks's The Use of Weapons -- and it was good. Really good. The seeds were a little spicy, and really complemented the apple/pineapple chutney. The whole thing blended together really well -- it balanced -- but you could still taste distinct different flavors (perhaps the prime characteristics of a good sandwich). I'm not convinced it's the best sandwich place in the world (more testing is needed), but it's definitely a contender.
After lunch I stopped at Games of Berkeley and Other Change of Hobbit, not because I particularly wanted to buy anything, just to check in, really. Still there. Still looks the same. Good. Picked up a Tamora Pierce book that I haven't seen in Salt Lake. And now I'm sitting in Au Coquelet (cafe on University, near Shattuck, home of fabulous desserts and hot drinks) drinking some chai and feeling deeply content.
Rituals of place; I've never lived in Berkeley, but I've spent enough time wandering around it to feel at home here. It's funny -- I knew I wasn't going to buy anything at Games of Berkeley (I rarely do), but I thought I should go in anyway. I think a little part of my brain is convinced that my visiting places will create some sort of sympathetic magic that will keep them around. Heh. If I tried to do that with every place I loved, I'd spend every week travelling to some different part of the country. Better just let some of them go, I suspect...
Soon I'll head over to Anna's (different cafe that Karen first recommended to me) and she'll be meeting me there sometime after five. We'll talk a bit, go back to her place, have Shabbat dinner with Par. It'll be good.