Although Mikey Day ’10 and Stephen Saribalis ’10 met as “rivals,” they soon developed a strong friendship and loving relationship. This Valentine’s Day, Mikey Day reflects on their love story and the part Cal played in it.
Stephen and I met in 2009 while working as staffers at the Lair of the Golden Bear in Pinecrest. What started out as a rivalry with him working at Camp Blue and I at Camp Gold soon blossomed into a fast friendship and eventually a lasting relationship. We first met at an annual cross-camp gathering when both of us knew of each other but were still navigating our personal journeys with friends and family. Those first conversations were both nerve-racking and exciting. One of our favorite early memories was heading up to watch the sunset together at “Therapy,” a beautiful locally-known overlook in the Stanislaus National Forest near the Sonora Pass. As we watched the sun set from the Sierra Nevada over the Central Valley all the way to Mount Diablo and beyond, we saw the first stars blink into existence. It felt like the beginning of something new for both of us.
When summer was over and it was time to head down the hill and back to “real life,” we had our first official date, grabbing sandwiches from the legendary Brazil Cafe on University Avenue. We perched ourselves atop the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco and watched the Blue Angels soar over the Bay. As fall set in, we spent time hiking the Berkeley Fire Trails that overlook Memorial Stadium and soaking in the beautiful golden hour views from Strawberry Canyon. From there, the rest was history.
Before long, San Francisco became our home but Berkeley was never too far away. We spent the next decade donning our blue and gold at Cal football games, making sure not to miss the much-loved Lair Day Tailgate at Faculty Glade, and enjoying many concerts at the Greek Theater. In the summer, we would reconvene in Pinecrest to help carry on the Lair traditions.
We seized upon the sense of adventure that Cal instilled in us and traveled to far-flung reaches of the globe from Peru to Egypt to Japan, seeing the world together and sharing our experiences as a couple. In the end, we got engaged while overlooking the Nôtre Dame Cathedral on the banks of the Seine, where Stephen used to reflect as a young expatriate in 2009. We learned to hold each other up when life throws curveballs, never forgetting to celebrate those moments that bring a smile to your face.
In planning our wedding, we had the incredible opportunity and the good fortune to celebrate our nuptials at the place where it all began: the Lair of the Golden Bear. Both of us have large families and a close knit group of friends, so the Lair, with all of its dirt and dust and natural beauty, ensured that we could include everyone. One of the best parts of the Lair is the close living quarters. This leads to new and unexpected connections that last a lifetime. Assigning tent cabins to our closest family and friends was both a major operation and a novel social experiment, but it allowed us to recreate the environment of openness and serendipity that led us to each other.
We leaned on our talented compatriots and dedicated Lair staffers to put on a traditional and unforgettable campfire show against the backdrop of ancient pines and the trickling headwaters of the Tuolumne river. And so we married at Camp Blue Creekside on Labor Day weekend 2019 (9.1.19) surrounded by an army of 300+ of the most important people in our lives. Why not marry at Camp Gold Creekside, you might ask? Well, that’s because our family will be camping at Gold for the rest of our lives.
We have nearly four years of marriage under our belts and fourteen years of learning and growing into the people we are today. In those years, life has reaffirmed that kindness, humility, and, of course, patience go a long way to building a successful partnership. One of marriage’s most profound lessons is that moments big and small should never be taken for granted because you never know where they might lead. Lead with love, not fear.
Learn more about weddings and private events at the Lair of the Golden Bear!