Vallejo is the antithesis of Vero Beach in every way, thank goodness. i feel like an alien arriving on a parallel universe for the first time, and i am almost overwhelmed trying to experience it all and figure out what it means.
It is so great to be around smart, creative people who are a little insane, and who channel their insanity into their art. I am so ready for it. I love the Chronicle, the 49ers, the Warriors. And since I haven't been to California there is so much to see and learn. I cannot believe how conventional a life i have lived. i let where i lived define me as a person, and that is not good when you come from material, stuck up places like Chappaqua NY, Washington, DC, and Vero Beach, FL.
This is the place to be, though. For crying out loud, there is a lotus in the center of a downtown street. people who have lived here a long time say that it's the way Haight-Ashbury and the Mission part of San Francisco used to be. It has a salty past as a sailor's town, because of nearby Mare Island Naval Base, which was commissioned years ago, and is so hauntingly beautiful. ghosts frequent the place.
the downtown is really unpretentious, and reminds me of frederick, md, before it got so cutesy. i don't think there is a chance of that happening here, because vallejo is still a pretty gritty place as far as crime and poverty go. People are definitely buying up old houses and renovating them, and the city sits on a bluff, like San Francisco does, so between the gorgeous old painted lady houses and the steep hills, Vallejo has a lot of the same geologic attributes.
As far as tone goes, it reminds me of Adams Morgan, in DC, or Arlington, VA, back in the day.
And then there is Nathan's Conscious Cup. I have been waiting to find this place my whole life. it makes me want to get up in the morning. Daniel, the owner who came from Sebstapol, a big pot town, opened it a year ago, and just started serving food, and i am in love with his cooking. he looks like a tiny pirate, and likes to dress in leggings and swooshy shirts. He wears frilly flower vintage aprons and cooks like the woman in "Like Water for Chocolate." He is a born nurturer and has patience for the eccentric, creative types, who make up most of his clientele.
No two days are alike at Nathan's, and although it is a crazy, unconventional place, there is a very comforting routine and energy about the place. It is located close to several dispensaries and is right across the street from a doctor's office, where you go to get your medical marijuana card. Someone already gave me a really nice bud on Saturday. A guy even invited me to a house concert on Saturday night to hear music by a local band. I couldn't make it, because i was really tired (whine), and that is going to have to change. When i sit in Nathan's, I feel like i am in another country, where respectable people sit, reading, listening to music, drinking coffee, eating Daniel's delicious cornbread waffles.
I have written about the need for a place to anchor when you are traveling. But a place like Nathan's is important when you have settled down somewhere, too. People need a reason to get up in the morning, a place to go where people know you, things to be excited about. Nathan's offers all of these things. Every day is an adventure, if only to see what Daniel is wearing and cooking.