I was on the phone with American Airlines when it struck.
I’m flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco in the morning. I’m renting an SUV, picking up my buddy Jon who’s flying in from Philadelphia, then heading up to Point Reyes where I’m meeting up with my best friend Sibby, and the groom’s brother, Mark. Then we head further north still to meet up with the groom, Matthew, and marry him off in an outdoor ceremony high above the Pacific.
Sibby, Matt, Jon and I went to high school together. Sibby was the brain helming the soccor team. Jon was the scientist helming the baseball team. Matt was the brawn helming the lacross team. Me? I was the writer, helming the school paper.
We’re an unlikely group of friends, really. I’m never sure how I fit in. Except that, like The Breakfast Club, I think there are elements of each other in all of us. Somehow, we create a whole. And so, when I have said, ‘You tell me where you need me and I’ll be there,’ I have to mean it. Even if it means packing up my business suit, pulling on some fleece, and heading to an outdoor camping wedding somewhere along the northern coast.
On Sunday night, Jon and I will return to SFO. He’ll hop on a United flight to Philadelphia, I’ll hop on an American flight to Los Angeles, where I’ll switch to the LAX-JFK red eye. Which I’d like to upgrade to business class. Which is why I was on the phone when it struck.
The floor began shaking. The windows began creaking. The building began moaning. At first, I thought a big truck was passing by. But then it just kept coming. I pulled the phone away from my ear, mouth agape, and looked outside. I couldn’t see anything moving — certainly, no big truck passing by — but I could feel the floor fluttering below my feet.
It was an earthquake, my first. A 4.9. Not a big deal, right? Second one since I got here (there was a 7.0 way up in Northern California while Blaine and I were at the Wilco show). Still, it was kind of exciting, and kind of unnerving. In the few seconds it took to settle down, I wondered, ‘Is this it? Will it get worse?’
I’m looking forward to getting back to New York City where the ground feels firm beneath my feet, even if it really isn’t. But first, I have to walk deeper into the ring of fire, closer to the fault lines.