I went up to Davis yesterday, to see some friends and do some rummaging around in the library and archive. I taught there for two years, from 1994 to 1996, and have very fond memories of the place: it’s where I met my wife, and after the permament dramatics of Stanford and Berkeley– where every question is an existential conundrum, ever decision a matter of life and death– its more relaxed-yet-serious atmosphere was a pleasant change.
In the years since I left, Davis has become more of a suburb of Sacramento– lots of the farms long I-80 have been turned into housing developments– and the campus is losing some of its agrarian, farm-school feel (but it’s still got a lot left). It’s now somewhat like Cornell now, but without the hills and gorges.
After touching down (Menlo Park is exactly 100 miles away), I stopped at Delta of Venus for some coffee, and to check my messages. I spent a lot of time at Delta when I was teaching there, and always liked its slightly downscale comfortable atmosphere– very Bohemian Paris, with reggae and tie-dyed t-shirts, just the place for a young Ph.D. to drink coffee and write lectures. While other things in Davis have changed, Delta is pleasantly unchanged. How they manage not get grungier is a mystery– sort of like how some men manage to maintain a contant 3-day beard.