By Tracy Flanigan
As I write this, I can’t help but notice as I look down that I am wearing a big soft sweatshirt with the word “Cal” emblazoned on the front in six-inch navy script. I wear it not for inspiration, but rather as routine as I often find myself wearing Cal gear around the house, to the grocery store or simply over to a friend’s house to drink a glass of iced tea. It is comfortable, familiar and my pride in it has become a source of who I am, however peripheral my relationship might be to this fine institution.
My daughter, Anne, is a junior at UC Berkeley majoring in Media Studies. We are from a small town of around 13,000 people in the southwest corner of rural Missouri. As far as I can tell, no one in our town has ever gone to Cal, but from the moment we checked the admission decision on my old personal computer and saw the word “Congratulations,” we were intrigued. One week later we found ourselves on a plane to California, and having been sold, one week after that on a return trip, where my daughter tried out for and made the Cal Dance Team.
Since that time, we have become immersed in all things “Cal.” And there has been no happier immersion. The more we put into Cal, the more we get back. As our time at Berkeley moves on, we find ourselves saying, “Oh no, only three more semesters.” Now we find ourselves on planes all the time attending Cal football and basketball games, Cal Day, Cal Parents’ Weekend and even sneaking the occasional weekend to be on the Berkeley campus for no other reason than we love it. I’ll admit, sometimes when I watch my daughter dance at games or on Sproul Plaza, I cry. Berkeley has shaped who she is as a person, the way she understands the world… and yes, what I end up wearing every other day.