The places we call home

As a soon-to-be graduate, I’ve been struggling with the concept of home. In a week, I’ll be going home to my family in Los Angeles, but I’ll also be leaving the home I’ve made for myself here in Berkeley.

The first place I called home in Berkeley was Unit 1. The sixth floor of Cheney Hall was friendship, it was two roommates, it was “turn the laundry room into a rave,” it was stay up until 3 a.m., bunk-bed-descending chaos. It was home for its semester-long game of Assassin, heading to Crossroads as a group and bonding over bedbugs. Floor six was home to quidditch players, a capella singers, AFX dancers and dedicated Rally Committee members. It was full of both people I’d stay in touch with for the next four years and people I never really got to know.

The next year, I remained on the south side of campus, but I moved into a studio apartment with a friend of mine. That apartment was home for its dusty staircase and dim lighting, for its lullaby of car alarms and for seeing familiar faces along the street on the way to class. Home was a too-long line at the Walgreens down the street, the staff of Cafe Milano knowing me by name and protests passing by my second-floor window. I worked late nights as a cashier at Abe’s Pizza, where my co-workers — clad in tie-dye — quickly became part of my family. There on Telegraph Avenue, home smelled like warm mozzarella and sounded like “Hell, yeah.”

Before my third year began, I found the closest semblance of the home I’d left behind in Hoyt Hall, a student cooperative that availed itself to me at a crucial point in my life and where I live today. Hoyt is a family of 60 in a mural-covered home with three staircases and four levels and three different roofs. Hoyt is lining up plates on the stairs at 6:50 p.m. and late-night dining-room conversations and intensive kitchen cleans to Earth, Wind & Fire and eating curry off of a Tupperware lid with a measuring spoon because, somehow, we never have regular spoons. Or we only have spoons. There is no in-between.

Home at Hoyt is my room with too many houseplants overlooking Ridge Road. It’s hearing my friends talking two doors down and popping in to join the conversation. It’s knowing I never have to be alone if I don’t want to be. Hoyt is Gandalf playing the saxophone on repeat for hours, sunbathing on the roof, wine and cheese and disorientation and snaps all around at council. Hoyt is a community that makes a well-loved house feel like a home.

In my four years at UC Berkeley, I changed majors, I changed houses, and I changed friend groups, but there was always one constant: The Daily Californian. And more than anywhere else, the Daily Cal office is a home away from home.

Joining the Daily Cal was one of the first things I did when I stepped foot on campus my freshman year, and I’ve remained a staff member in some capacity for eight consecutive semesters. Home at the Daily Cal is quote walls, it’s iced coffee, it’s debating whether to get dinner but instead eating Oreos at story review. It’s half-laughing, half-crying over a spokesperson’s response, and it’s every type of party parrot Slack react.

The Daily Cal is home for its faded cubicles, its worn-out couch, its food-strewn news desk perpetually immersed in a tangle of cords and chargers. It’s home to people who do incredible work to get the paper to press each morning. And it’s also been home to so many strong and phenomenal female journalists who have led the paper and acted as mentors during my four years on staff. Berkeley is home, but the Daily Cal is home base. It’s the place I know I can always fall back on, and it’s the place I’ve grown as a journalist and as a person.

After graduation, I might be “going home” to Los Angeles, but I’ll be leaving behind all the homes I’ve made for myself on this campus and in this city. I’m the person I am today because of the places I’ve called home and the people who made them feel like one. But now it’s time to say goodbye.

So goodbye, Unit 1. Goodbye, studio apartment. Goodbye, Abe’s. Goodbye, Northside. I’m not ready to say this one yet, but goodbye, Hoyt.

And most difficult of all, goodbye, Daily Cal. I might be leaving, but I will carry a piece of you in every interview I conduct and every story I write.

Get ready, y’all — I’m going home.

Maya Eliahou joined The Daily Californian in fall 2015 as a general assignment news reporter and copy editor before becoming a student life beat reporter in spring and fall 2016 and a web producer in spring 2017. She founded the Daily Cal’s social media department and served as its editor in fall 2018, joined the multimedia department in spring 2018, served on the editorial board in fall 2018 and returned to the news department for her final semester in spring 2019. She is graduating with bachelor’s degrees in political science and media studies.