Tuesday, April 18, 2006

doesn't take much to rip us into pieces

Okay, I swear I am not complaining about work, but I had to get to work at 7:30 this morning. I know that is technically not a big deal, so I am not whining. I swear. But last night, I went to bed feeling absolutely confident I would wake up very early this morning. Why? Because all of this weekend, talk of the 100 year anniversary of the great San Francisco earthquake floated on every airwave. And supposedly, at five o'clock this morning, church bells and sirens were supposed to be wailing. Either I am a light sleeper or the Mission decided let the motherf***er burn, because I barely rose to my alarm clamouring in my ear at 6:15.

That was a wee disappointing, because I had gone to bed thinking about how crazy it would be to wake to such sirens, to even feel for a nanosecond the panic that people feel in massive earthquakes. I was not in San Francisco in 1989. Where I grew up, in EBF, if we had a thunderstorm, it was a considered a crazy natural phenomenon. Earthquakes were things only discussed, like when you mentioned you wanted to move to California, for example. The thing is, I have never really felt an earthquake in San Francisco either. Once, I was sitting in my apartment and thought I felt a tremor. The apartment seemed to sway slightly for a moment. But I live in such a crack shack that I could not be sure if it was an earthquake or a large truck passing my apartment. I checked the reports for the next day or so to see if there was one in the news, but I think it was a false alarm.

Forces of nature like that frighten me and fascinate me at the same time. But I have certainly experienced that uneasy feeling, the feeling that the ground beneath my feet is unsteady. In some ways, ever since I moved to San Francisco, I have been on shaky ground. I pulled the rug out from underneath myself. A life had been carved out, with dinner parties and Sunday barbecues, long weekends at summer homes and winters spent in ski houses. I had rides to the airport, and people to bring me soup when I had the flu. All of this and more, and I thumbed my nose at it all and walked away.

I talk a lot of sh*t about my affection for the Mission, and how important moving to San Francisco has been. For the most part, I stand by it. I could never regret where I am now. But I know I am in earthquake country. Every day is filled with a hundred uncertainties and doubts. Yet, I know that I needed to be on the rock solid east coast for the time that I was there. It was as though my molecules were not really staying together in my younger years, like it would take just the slightest perturbation for me to dissolve apart. With two feet on the ground, you can create those inner bonds. By the time I moved out here, I was steady enough that the tremors of life's twists and turns could be weathered. I could afford to jump across the gaping chasms that opened before me, because I had a kind of inner parachute that could rescue me.

But I know what I gave up. Many of my dearest friends still live on the east coast, and even though I have been horrid at keeping in touch with them, they still invite me to their weddings, they still try to set me up with dudes they know, and they still come to visit. And what is amazing about those friends is that some of them have so little in common with me on the surface. The nice thing about being stuck in the suburbs is that you are forced to take a dip beneath the superficial, to go in search of what lies a layer below. And you find yourself shocked at how much everyone has in common underneath it all.

And yes, that was very cheesy. But, A called me today to tell me he is visiting this summer. We used to be roommates, but we both moved away from the house that really felt like a home. For a long time, I attributed many of my east coast friendships to convenience. But I know that is a crock, because there was nothing convenient about coordinating a trip to Peru with A. And even though we nearly killed each other in the process, we did it, and it would not have been the same without him. Even that, I could pass off as the convenience of a common goal. Just over a year later, he will prove me wrong by heading out to the land of earthquakes, another solid soul on a roller-coaster ride.

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