The Personal Blog of Stephen Sekula

Is falling down

We landed in SFO over an hour later than scheduled. The woman sitting next to me was ill-prepared for actually leaving the plane. When the herd thinned ahead of our row, she seemed to suddenly realize that getting her bags together was a good idea. The two mini-bottles of wine she downed during the flight probably weren’t helping, but I don’t want to say that cuz I don’t want to seem all judgy.

“The Bay Bridge is closed, you know,” my father told me on the phone just before I left Dallas.

“No, I hadn’t heard that,” I said.

“Really?” was my father’s response. He always hears something super-important that I have failed to note. This happens at least once a week and despite my hyper-connectedness, constantly reminds me that I don’t know shit.

The woman in front of me was making the newbie mistake – rolling her bag on its little wheels down the aisle, right behind her. BAM! It caught on the arm of a seat and jerked her backward. I came to a sudden stop, trying to avoid the inevitable crash. She muttered another apology, just like the one she muttered as she gathered her bags to leave the plane. I contemplated jumping aisles, scurrying through the business class to the other aisle and getting ahead of her. But I wasn’t in the mood for dick moves, and that was a serious dick move. I decided to play it cool and collect some good karma.

Others were less patient. Several people from behind me scurried through business class to the other aisle. They forgot Bernoulli’s principle, or statistical mechanics, or whatever principle it is that dictates that when you suddenly cram three or four impatient people into the same narrow passage their flow also slows. Bad karma. Their line backed up. By the time bag lady got to the airplane exit, we were three people further ahead of the aisle-jumpers.

Traffic on the San Mateo bridge was backed up halfway along the length of the bridge. This was at 7:30 at night. The SuperShuttle driver was muttering curses in something slavic. The name of his dispatcher was mixed into the curses. The lady going to Hayward sat uncomfortably in a sea of three people going to Palo Alto. Somehow, the majority found itself going to Hayward, across a jam-packed bridge.

The bearded gentleman next to me struck up conversation. “This is weird. This traffic is bad for 7:30. Must be an accident.”

“The Bay Bridge is closed,” I said.

The PA system in the airport had kept announcing this fact. How this had escaped anybody’s attention was a mystery to me. I was only a little satisfied that I wasn’t the only person who hadn’t heard this news.In contrast, I was very satisfied that a Palo Alto native was the one who heard this news later than me.

“Why is it closed?”

“Part of the repairs from the last bit of damage fell down on some cars,” I said. I didn’t know if this was objectively true. This is what I had heard. It sounded good and scary, so I just repeated it.

The man seemed even more surprised.

I stared off into the distant north of the Bay, over the dark waters to a strand of yellow lights that I pretended marked the location of the empty Bay Bridge. I didn’t know what I was actually looking at, but for the purpose of my state of mind they served nicely as the Bay Bridge. I looked at those sick yellow lights, hovering on the far edge of the dark water, and I thought to myself, “Is falling down.”