Andrea Ferretti moved to Bernal Heights last year, and she’s noticed that living here has had an enlightening influence upon her approach to daily life. She traces the root of that experience to the ritual that take place when two cars try to pass one another on one of Bernal’s tiny, narrow streets. Andrea calls this “The Yoga of Bernal”:
Bernal marches to its own drummer and the pace of that drummer is verrry slow. When I first moved there and I would drive home from work, I found myself exasperated as soon I reached Bernal. I would be in fast-twitch, downtown mode, eager to get home when suddenly I’d be halfway down a steep, narrow hill nose to nose with a driver coming the other direction. One of us would have to awkwardly back up or pull into a driveway to let the other pass.
Then one day something shifted. I noticed the rhythm to driving in Bernal: If you see another driver coming toward you in the distance, you pull over to the right—this is easy to do once you reach a small intersection—and it allows you smoothly weave around each other in a sort of dance. You do this over and over again as you drive through the neighborhood—either you choose to yield or the other car does— and it works out perfectly. When I clicked into this simple Bernal dance I felt like I’d finally arrived as a local. Sure, you have to slow down a bit, you have to give your neighbor driver a friendly wave, and you have to be willing to yield. But that’s all part of what living in Bernal is all about. Slowing down, giving a wave, yielding when it’s necessary.
PHOTO: “No, After You!” by Telstar Logistics