Ode to a Weekend in California

I can’t believe it has already been a week since we returned from an extended weekend in Northern California. My, how time flies. I’m not sure whether the four days should be reflected upon as a blissful respite from the dreary when-will-it-be-warm spring weather in the city, or as a cruel joke (only prompting me to whine louder about this when-will-it-be-warm spring weather). I’ll admit it: Yesterday was actually capital G-Gorgeous, but more on that another time.

We flew JetBlue into Oakland—leaving Thursday morning, just in time to avoid the afternoon rain—and picked up a car at the airport. Four car days cost us only slightly more than a single day costs us here. (Discrepancies in prices, like these, continued to leave us with jaws dropped throughout our stay.)

Our first stop on our jam-packed weekend was to visit our friends, Marija and Nathan, who had recently moved to Oakland from Los Angeles. Marija and I went to grad school together and I

lived within two blocks from her for five years before we moved to New York; both of us miss them a lot. Their new place is gorgeous—all windows and light—and will definitely live somewhere in my imagination of what the ideal bay area existence might look like. It sort of reminded me of the time I went to check out UC San Diego and there were dolphins playing in the surf: I felt like someone from a magic control tower was saying “cue the dolphins,” prospective students arriving. Only this time it was cue the sunlight, cue the spring greens on the fresh pizza, cue eating ice cream outside.

Next on the parade of “things we miss about California” were our friends Brian and Amy and their three-year-old Ahma. They too had just moved from Los Angeles (where Brian and Aron had both been medical students at UCLA), and somehow ended up a short seven minutes away (in Berkeley) from our other LA cohorts. Brian is being put through the ringer in his first year of residency at Oakland Peds. As you might imagine, Aron (and I) can empathize. They have a great new place and a little boy on the way. In fact, over Indian food that night, Ahma suddenly exclaimed: “I can’t believe how tiny my baby brother is!” They’ll all be moving to Baltimore (where Brian will start his neurology training at Hopkins), in a year and a half and we’re hoping we can have dinner more often once we’re all on the same coast again.

We arrived in Davis around 11:30pm and couldn’t help but drive around downtown a bit before pulling into the Bruhns’ cul-de-sac. Another jaw dropping moment? With the exception of a few key spots (G Street pub, Burgers and Brew, Sophia’s Thai bar), there wasn’t a soul in sight, not a sound on the street! We were definitely not in New York any longer.

The next morning we awoke to the sounds of a cooing baby. Peter, to be precise—our ten-month-old nephew. Laura had flown in from Germany with the two boys! We spent the majority of Friday playing with him and his older brother, three-year-old Patrick, and visiting with our family. This, of course, usually means lots of good food and this visit proved to be no exception. We started the morning with a bang (aka Christine’s buttermilk waffles and coffee from Peet’s). After a little gardening and some Dos Coyotes burritos—which we ate outside, thank you very much—and a couple of pieces of yummy banana cake topped with mocha frosting, we were off to our next date.

Ben and Stacey had agreed to host dinner and we arrived to the smells of roasted pork shoulder, ratatouille, and a freshly baked apple pie—my oh my. Anirudh was already over, and Dave and Katy (with baby on the way) arrived shortly after we did. Aron teases that my repeating doey-eyed refrain of “this is soooo wonderful” was influenced by the strong sidecars we made and then drank on an empty stomachs, but there was no way my stomach was empty after those burritos and all that cake. No—in fact, it really was just that it was such a wonderful night (great friends, good conversation, and another meal outside equals heavenly).

The rekindled romance with a small town in California continued the next morning at the farmer’s market. Have you seen The Gilmore Girls? We felt like an extras in one of their town square specials—like the time the entire town gathers for the hay maze, or pulls together to protest the new traffic light. The central park was filled with families (many of which were stopping at the bicycle powered carousel); there were folksy musicians aplenty; the fruit was colorful (there were strawberries!); and everyone seemed abuzz with the glow of spring. No doubt I’ll be overcome at our own greenmarket soon, but the Davis farmer’s market is pretty amazing (the campus was, afterall, once the agricultural extension of Berkeley). After spending some time at the market, we joined our friends once more for brunch at Delta of Venus and then somehow made room for our favorite Thai dishes at Thai Nakorn with John, Chris, Laura, Peter, and Patrick.

While the Bruhns prepped for the next meal (dinner with colleagues of theirs/friends of all of us),

Aron and I got in some more play time with Laura and the boys. This included some chalk drawing, some hammock swinging, some ping-pong, and some chasing Patrick and Patrick’s big wheel (Aron got quite the workout when it came to that last part). We also perfected our drool-avoidance maneuvers. Indeed, I’ve finally discovered what gives Peter his oh-so-cute and chubby cheeks: they’re filled with unbelievably large stores of saliva, ready to be distributed at any time! Aron got slimed, so to speak, the most—he liked to pick Peter up in a superman flying position, over his head. Down the drool would rain. Peter would giggle with delight (clearly amused at the gooey mess). It took a little longer than one might think, but Aron eventually figured out how to lift our adorable little buddy away from his body. We took about a million pictures of both boys, trying to capture their cuteness (and their luminescent, soft skin); I’m not sure it can truly be captured but I promise you—adorable. Some chicken curry and some key lime pie later, we were beat.

We were sorry to say goodbye on Sunday, but placated ourselves slightly with stops at Rubio’s fish tacos for me and Asquew grill for Aron (a tough call for both of us between these favorites and the option of In-N-Out), and a box of See’s from the airport. On the flight home we tried to avert our eyes as we flipped past the weather channel, which was describing the severe weather to which we’d be returning in the TriState area. Cue heavy sigh.

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