When it comes to geography, I’m a cat, not a dog. I’m slow to settle in. When I moved from Texas to the Bay Area, I loved it right away, but it took me a year or longer to start to feel like this was my home. Smaller moves across the bridge to San Francisco in 1993, and back to the East Bay in 2009, produced a similar shock.

While I’m great with a map, and I can get the big picture of what’s what pretty quickly, my “real” map of where I live is more pictorial and personal. I don’t know if this is how everyone does it, but over time I build up connections, a friend’s house, my favorite hardware store, the park where the dog got bitten that time. It’s when these associations paper over the whole landscape that I feel really settled and at home.

This week I was struck with how much my Berkeley landmarks are increasingly my kids’ landmarks: their former dental office, their schools, their favorite restaurants (not, as you know, to be confused with my favorite restaurants!). The softball field we went to by mistake trying to find little league. The art supply. A great kids shoe store. The seasonally-decorated cookie aisle in the market. Jonathan’s rock. The road where the wild turkeys sometimes gobble around.

All these places and hundreds more are now linked in my mind to our family. Gradually “my” map of the East Bay is becoming our map. While I’d be just fine with never having been inside a Chuck E Cheese, most of the time it’s delightful to have my kids’ joyful, sugar addicted view as I navigate around town.

Two years ago next month we met the kids, Two years ago May they moved in. My East Bay, my whole map of the world, will never be the same. And I’m so glad for it.