Walking along a tree-lined boulevard dotted with Craftsmen-styled Greek houses I encounter young women wearing shorts and attitude and young men sauntering confidently past me, not really seeing. I've been here before, thirty-three years ago when I first walked down this same street in September 1981. Back then, I was also older than most folks as I headed to orientation for first year students at University of California at Berkeley School of Law, known then as "Boalt Hall." The "Sig Ep" house looks more polished than I recall and the students seem a little more world-wise or world-weary?
A flood of emotions overcome me. This is not my first time returning to Berkeley nor is it even my first law school reunion. But somehow this feels different. Thirty years. I've been a lawyer 30 years and excelled in and retired from a profession I never embraced fully as my own. For me Berkeley was a place of moment, ambivalence and contradiction. Far later than most people, this is where I discovered the early Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, Tom Waits, Ry Cooder and The Grateful Dead. I almost died three times in Berkeley -- twice while on a bicycle and another when unknowingly I stumbled upon an ongoing burglary in my best friend's home. In Berkeley I was perhaps more fit than before or after, made life long friends, attended my first Rolling Stones concert, met my first real lover and taught bus drivers, architects, lawyers and waitresses the finer points of using a new-fangled weight machine system called Nautilus.
Berkeley's colors burn bright within me and time refuses to fade. I could not live here but part of me never leaves. Looking back across the 30 years, Berkeley was the perfect place for ME to attend law school. It was not fun, hard work did not always payoff and there was much to dislike. But I became a woman here and these sounds, smells, sights and emotional landscape launched the lawyer and human that followed. So THANKS!