Three years ago, on Christmas, I gifted Jenna with a trip back to Berkeley to watch a California home football game. She loves her alma mater and hadn't been back on campus since she graduated in 2007, so she was due for a pilgrimage back to her undergrad roots.
Fast forward to now: we still hadn't been to a game and she was beginning to think I had completely forgotten about her gift. We'd been to the Cal v. UCLA game here in LA at the Rose Bowl, but we still needed to head up north.
Now, as a die-hard Angeleno, I have a strong dislike for all things Bay Area-related when it comes to sports. Cal was no different when we first began dating. Since neither of my universities had football teams (shout out to the CSUN Matadors and Long Beach State 49ers!), I was a casual USC fan at the time, with an allegiance to the school for no other reason than I had a lot of friends who attended the university. When Jenna rightly brought up the fact that she rooted for ALL of my favorite sports teams just to support our relationship and keep her boyfriend happy, the choice was pretty clear: I'll take a size large UC Berkeley shirt and a 7 1/4 fitted Cal hat, please. I was the newest and most passionate California Golden Bears fan.
Another word to the wise: Jenna loves surprises. She also loves when she doesn't have to plan anything (that's not true, she LOVES to plan, but since she's a serial planner about everything...seriously, the girl has TWO 2013 planners she carries with her everywhere...she also enjoys when someone takes the planning over from her). So, a few months ago, I checked our schedules - everything was clear. Then I told her she was busy from November 1st-November 3rd (which also happens to be the weekend after my birthday, causing her to be even more WTF about the timing) and she wasn't allowed to know what we were doing or where we were going. My intentions were to let her know at the last possible second that she was headed to Berkeley for a game. We made it all the way through TSA security at the airport without her finding out. I even (with the help of her mom) packed her bag for her. She had NO clue where we were headed.
I had arranged to stay with our friends in Pleasant Hill (one of which was her favorite sorority sister from Cal and one of her bridesmaids), booked the flights, and we were all set. Even as we got through security, she still had no idea. So we walked over to the flight departures board where I asked her to guess where we were going. It went something like this:
J: San Francisco!
J (getting visibly disheartened at this point): Vegas?
J: Fuck. Idaho?
A: Haha, definitely not.
J: Uhhh, that's all of the places up there...
A (walking away): No, it's not!
J: Where the hell are we going then?!
J (wrinkling her face as if someone cut the dirtiest fart in history): Oakland? Really? ...Have you BEEN to Oakland before?!
A: Yes, I have, and it's BEAUTIFUL this time of year.
So the location was out, and after a few more Q&A's she figured out we were going to the game and she was STOKED!
What followed was a wonderful weekend with great friends, day drinking at the college bar, reliving glory days, and making new memories in a place that is near and dear to both of our hearts. Cal lost the game, unfortunately, but we'll never remember the score, we'll just remember our first trip back to her beloved campus in what will hopefully become a tradition we practice more than once every three years.