Last week I had the chance to visit the campus of one of the great public universities in the country – the University of California at Berkeley. It was my first trip to the city and the campus and was a memorable one. Not only does Berkeley’s hilltop location provide an excellent view of the North Bay and the city of San Francisco and its towering bridges, but the campus was beautiful and brought me back to my college years, although I attended a much smaller university. What I will remember most, however, is a prominent display near the student union and the bookstore. It was entitled “How I Feel About Berkeley.” The display was a long wall of beautiful black and white photos featuring the faces of current Berkeley students – the classes of 2010 to 2013. Although the photos were black and white, it truly was a rainbow of color and diversity. Each student had his or her name displayed and a chance to provide a caption at the bottom of the photo. Besides English, there were comments in a multitude of languages. But these students were not from abroad. The Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Hebrew, Portuguese, Hindi, Thai, Hmong, and other languages that these students understood and proudly displayed came from their homes. In California. You could see it in their faces; these were not foreign students. As I gazed at the faces staring back at me, each commenting on what the university meant to them or how it changed their lives, I had the distinct impression that they (including their contemporaries in all shapes and colors at the top universities in the country) are the future. These kids, not much younger than I am, were what the country must depend on and who will ultimately change the world as we know it. I was holding my daughter at the time and as we were beckoned to leave the display by my departing party, I turned to her, all of two and a half years, and whispered, “Say goodbye to the future of your country.”
Another vacation is here. While I have traveled quite a few times this year for work compared to the recent past, I have done so each time on my own. Tomorrow morning, I am on the plane with my wife and two young daughters. For a six-hour flight. To California. My prior flights have been spent reading and watching movies and television. But I will now have to switch activities every twenty minutes to keep the kids entertained for the duration of the flight. But we have been looking forward to this trip for months and I am glad it is here. It will be nice to get away and see family. Up until this week, my wife and I were even planning on leaving the kids with grandma and grandpa and getting away on our own for a few days. Given that our last trip together was literally years ago, I thought a few days together would be a needed getaway. Not surprisingly, that is no longer happening. It’s a money issue. We finally agreed (although it was a compromise on my end in the spirit of keeping the peace) that we would forego the mountain hotel resort together for a few day trips around town. On tap we have some shopping and dining; enjoyable activities, but not the hiking and relaxing I had initially planned. While I am sure we will end up enjoying the vacation (hopefully), this raised the question in my mind whether we will ever have a chance to get away on our own. This was supposed to be our chance, but I will now have to wait and see if I can convince my wife to spend a few days alone with me next year. If not, I may have to plan a one-man getaway on my own.
This past weekend marked the six year anniversary of the weekend my wife and I first hit it off together. I will always remember it. It was fall, I had just started law school and love was in the air. The cooler weather and changing foliage each October always reminds me of those days. I used to walk around our university campus thinking, wondering what the future held for us. There was so much uncertainty in our lives at that time, but we knew we wanted to be together and were determined to make it work. We took a leap of faith and committed ourselves to each other.
Now, six years later, I look back at what we have accomplished together – two educations completed, two careers on track, two wonderful daughters, one house and almost six years of surviving in New York – and smile. While I feel we have a long way to go sometimes, we have certainly come a long way. If nothing else, we finally deserve a vacation, which is where we’re off to next week. Lake Tahoe, here we come. With the chance next week to step out of our hectic lives, I am ready to rekindle the fire and affection I felt that fall six years ago when I fell in love.