So I’ve lived almost all my life in the San Francisco Bay Area. I spent 4 years in the rainiest seasons of Portland, Oregon, a town that is rainier than Seattle. My most unpleasant memory of Portland, besides opening my sweater drawer to mold, is sitting in a public bus, at night, with my fellow Portlanders in wet Goretex, and not knowing when to get off the bus since all of the windows are steamed up. It’s a nightmare, actually. The only good part of that was that my friend and I had mint schnapps in our plastic coffee mugs!
Yesterday I drove down and up 101, one of the worst freeways to be in when it’s near-flood conditions. I just kept in someone’s dry tracks and sang along to soul. The pictures on the news and in papers for the last day or so have been so catastrophic, full of car crashes and other results of the awful conditions.
Once when I was about 16 I drove up and down 101 during similar conditions. I was going up to a mod show in the City (ah, the days of our youth) oblivious to the fact that, hey, when the weather is bad and there’s standing water on the road, you may not want to go out! I remember how there were no cars on the road. Later, my friend called me and told me I had just missed the entrance ramp road blocks, and that the freeway was flooding.
Last winter, same time, I woke up aroiund 5am to get to SFO to go to my grandmother’s funeral. I took 280 this time. Similar weather conditions. I tried in vain to get some weather info on the radio, but couldn’t, and had to decrease my speed so much I ended up missing my flight. I passed about six accidents on the roadside, and this is usually a twenty minute trip. My excuse sounded really pathetic to Minnesotans who were braving a blizzard to go to the same funeral.
So I’m not sure what I’m saying in this entry. I’m sure everyone reading this will say: Californians don’t know how to drive in weather. I do know that there is something torrential and vicious in the few days of rain we get here. In Portland, it was always drizzly and rarely heavy. Everybody lived in rain, for 9 or so months, so it was just the way of living. Here, people are unaware that their 1994 Honda has bald tires and hydroplanes at anything over 30mph. Portlanders grew up driving 30mph, so there’s no curbed desire to speed.
There are things I love about California that I know nobody else loves. I love the cold, dark green-blue Pacific, and I think it’s “clean” and “fun” in a way nobody else does. Warm water just oogs me out. I also like the rainy season we get here, and how it’s heavy raindrops, with wind, and usually comes with loud, scary thunder claps. I like the deep damp shiver you can get, what with the sea air and the falling temperatures and random winds. I love how fleeces are sold more prominently than personalized license plates in Fisherman’s Wharf. I dig the frozen frost on a lawn in the early morning. It’s like snow, but not really. I like the way the fog from the ocean builds up against the mountains and pours over, and you can see it wrapping around Sutro Tower. OK I could go on, but you get it.