Berkeley is the wildcard of the East Bay, usually the seemingly black and white part of the Bay (chaotic and urban Oakland versus the idyllic suburbs from Orinda to Concord and Castro Valley). With Berkeley, it’s a tame but certainly not boring spot of the Bay, most consider it just a small-scale San Francisco on the other side of the bridge. I love it, even for its hippie rep, but beyond that (c’mon, Telegraph Ave is only one street of many in the city). I love the spirit and liveliness of every street corner and shop and home you encounter. Back in 2007-2010 was the time I spent the most in Berkeley, and the things you could see here! I had to write about it, and that’s how I produced my first novel The Muse Land.
The Muse Land, now being reconstructed as The Boys in America, is set in scattered parts around the Bay, but a great deal of the story is in Berkeley, where my protagonist, Cameron, settles down in after leaving his native England to work soccer camps in California. He’s made a right decision in that, because it truly is a wondrous place to find whatever it is you’re looking for out of happiness or inspiration.
One last note on this magical place: should you EVER set your sights on settling down here in Berkeley, take note of the lovely little streets and microhoods made up of the city’s most characteristic and beautiful bungalows. From craftsman houses to idyllic English cottage styles, the housing in this city has been one of the biggest influences in my story. I’ve always gone to Berkeley Homes which features prime real estate of gorgeous homes with charm to look for settings throughout Boys in America. Even if it’s out of your reach to consider owning anything, let alone as a post-grad angsty twenty-something like myself, just to dream about owning one of these remarkable places keep me inspired. Look local, explore local, because the best ideas come from the world outside, the world just within reach. The world that’s in fact, right where you are: home.
collage images via Refinery29.