Home is where the bay is

5 Oct

Dear Ophelia,

This morning we packed you into the Scion and headed down to the Wells Fargo in Chinatown for our meeting with a guy named Jimmy. Our mission: get you a house. We sat in his office for an hour and half,  answering one personal question after the next while several older Asian women walked by and made googly eyes with you through the picture window. A petite Chinese woman dressed in staggering heels kept running in and out of the office, asking Jimmy questions in Mandarin and answering his in English. Your constant chatter and movement was a welcome distraction from the seriousness of what was at hand. I was sure we wouldn’t get approved for anything; your dad was more optimistic but certainly removed. But to both of our dismay, we walked out of there with a letter approving us for more money than either of us thought we would qualify for. And more than anything else, that letter feels like a promise from me to you to find us the best home possible.

Making this decision makes me consider your whole childhood, how the home we buy now will become the framework for all your memories from your early years. You will garden with mama in the backyard, make “real” mac n cheese with daddy in the kitchen, hang Christmas stockings on our fireplace. I am incredibly protective over these memories yet to come.  I see myself as the keeper of the purity of your childhood. And call me a snob, but I want that childhood to be in Oakland. Sure, your dad and I grew up in the suburbs and turned out alright. We’re even kind of, sort of, in our love of NPR and Barack Obama and CSA boxes and craft beer, cosmopolitan (stop laughing). I want you to remember a bazillion trips to the zoo, to Fairyland, to MOCHA and Tilden Park. I don’t want Telegraph Avenue to be something you discover with wide-eyed fascination as a teenager…I want you to be on a first name basis with those homeless dudes by Kindergarten! I want you to have friends of all colors, creeds and sexual orientations and to be aware that you are privileged and damned lucky to be in the socioeconomic position you are in. I know these things are all possible in the suburbs too but I’m holding on like mad to the idea that we will find a home in Oakland that is A) not in a shitty dangerous neighborhood B) we can afford and C) makes us feel like we’re finally home. The market is crazy and there are multiple offers on most homes, but we’re diving right in. Let me know in 20 years if we made the right decision.

Love,

Mama

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