When receiving the acceptance email to Stanford Summer, most students react with, “I get to study at Stanford, one of the most prestigious universities in the world and I get to live in California this summer!” When I got my email, it went more like this, “I get to study at Stanford one of the most prestigious universities! Palo Alto? That’s a doable commute.”
I live in San Francisco. Last weekend I packed up my things and moved to Half Moon Bay for the summer, into my boyfriend’s house. It takes me about forty five minutes to drive from his ranch to Philz Coffee on Middlefield road where I park my car, hop on my bike, grab a coffee (half Philtered Soul half Greater Alarm) and ride the 2.6 miles into campus. The ride is beautiful and familiar, as I have worked quite a bit in Palo Alto. The campus is enormous and the sunshine, while welcome, is taking some getting used to (it’s freezing in San Francisco during the summer). My classes are great, the teachers are fantastic but there seems to be something missing in my experience. One would think that at twenty-nine years old, a three month reprieve from living with roommates would be something to look forward to but I see the budding community of California-newbies and first-time roommates and I find myself feeling envious of the adventure everyone seems to be having, experiencing the Bay Area for the first time. There is no doubt this is an exciting place to be and an exciting time to be here, but what of us who have lived here for five, ten, twenty years?
I’ve mostly hung back and listened to the plans the students in my classes are taking into the city or to Santa Cruz. I found myself biting my tongue when I heard students planning a fourth of July trip to watch fireworks in San Francisco, “Don’t do it!,” I wanted to say. “It’ll cost you and arm and a leg and chances are you wont see anything but the fog changing color!” What I really want to tell everyone is to check out the ghost tour in Lower Pac Heights, to eat at Cordon Bleu for the most delicious Vietnamese food in the city, to go to Swanton Berry Farm and have a cobbler, to go to Duartes in Pescadero and have the half-and-half artichoke and green chili soup with warm home baked bread. I have a wealth of knowledge, as do all of us forgotten commuters and I invite all of you to share your favorite places in the Bay Area with all of the first-timers and make this an unforgettable summer for all of us. I haven’t been to Cordon Bleu in ages…, anyone up for some five-spice chicken?