Capturing pictures of the everyday and mundane details of living in a place as odd as Berkeley’s Normandy Village means that I can look back to the little details. This maroon fire escape served as the back door to our apartment, but also easy access to the shared laundry room—and thus a route I frequently traversed, trying to find a time when the machines were free.
Arriving at the one-year anniversary of the end of my sabbatical time in Berkeley, I’ve also reached the end of processing pictures that I took while I was there—though many more will be posted in the future. Our apartment was on the second flood of this build, where the screen of the same laptop on which I’m currently typing lights up the bottom-right corner of the window and the narrow slit of dark windows were over the kitchen sink where I’d cook dinner.
There are no crenelations, gates, or moats; this is not a place to hold off an invading force. Nonetheless, the châteauesque architecture of Berkeley’s Normandy Village seems like it could fairly be called a castle, filtered through generations of repeating architectural patterns. With each generation, the style moves farther from the functional reasons for its original existence.
Given the extraordinary nature of the Normandy Village, “regular” cars seem oddly out of place. Perhaps that in part because the average car has grown so significantly in size since the little bays of the village were built.
My messy sabbatical desk in the Normandy, sitting next to some enormous (if leaky) windows, was home base for a glorious eight months. I’m glad I paused to take a picture of it as it was (rather than in perhaps a more photogenic state.)
Heading out from the Normandy Village, the crazy brick patterns, tiny windows hidden under the eaves, and trees sprouting from the concrete give way to the mid-twentieth-century architecture of Berkeley instantly. Exiting means stepping through some kind of spacetime membrane back to reality.