Solid Ground

Posted: July 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: California, Discoveries, Earthquakes, Eating Out, Friends and Strangers, Little Rhody, Misc Neuroses, Summer, Travel | 2 Comments »

“What about earthquakes?”

It’s the refrain I often hear when I tell East Coasters and Midwesterners I live in San Francisco. And though I always want to ask them if there are buses where they live, and if they ever cross streets, sometimes I actually bite my tongue.

The fact is, well, aside from a summer a couple years back when we had a hearty smattering of earthquakes, all with epicenters just miles from our house—aside from that unsettling patch, I really don’t worry about quakes. Or at least, that’s what I thought.

But apparently it’s taken me being here on the East Coast to plumb the depths of my subconscious fears. Because before nodding off to sleep, at both my Dad’s house and my sister’s schmancy Cape Cod digs, I remember having the smallest mental twinge, realizing that I had nothing to worry about.

I’m not sure whether I was unthinkingly planning an emergency exit strategy—how I’d sweep through one room to grab one kid, then dispatch Mark to grab the other—or if I was unwittingly wondering whether the glass on the art hanging over the bed would shatter into a million razor-like shards when it fell on us, or maybe I was wondering how long it’d take to walk to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts, a perfect alternate Red Cross Center where we could ride out the mayhem until the utilities were back up and running.

I mean, I’m not AWARE that I was thinking any of those things, but in both houses, just moments before nodding off, I remember a little uptick in my wakefulness, then a settling back down with the reassuring thought that those walls weren’t going anywhere. I was on solid ground.

Our two-week vacation is nearly complete, and it wasn’t until today that I took the girls for a quiet morning stroll along the harbor’s boardwalk. Kate, a stroller addict who I’ll no doubt be pushing to prom in a broke-down MacLaren, skipped along the whole way, pointing to fishing boats, peering terrifyingly close off the edge of the pier, and marveling at the white face of a floating dead fish.

Our stroll ended at a lovely open park, which we wandered though to arrive at The Beehive Cafe, Bristol’s newest and most charming caffeine hole.

Why, I wondered, had I waited until today to do this? Sunshine or not, it would have been the ideal start to every day we’ve been here.

But it’s a late-arriving realization (along with my unsuspected earthquake fears), leaving me with no recourse other than to plan longer visits in upcoming summers. Maybe rent a house. And when she’s old enough, enroll Kate in Bristol Yacht Club sailing lessons, in the hopes that my genes have failed to pass along my reckless nautical habits, and that years from now crushes on Junior Instructors will still carry one through a full season feeling giddy, while remaining utterly sexually innocent.

I mean, I lay out these summer plans in my mind, then flip-flop to think I could convince Mark to just move here. You know, put up with the winter too.

See? Told you you could set your watch to this feeling emerging from me about now. Emerging, that is, like some alien from Sigourney Weaver’s midsection. Impossible, as it were, to repress.

Tuesday or so I called John and made a dinner date with him and Jim. We dined at a sweet small place when I was in town last, and had a memorable, hilarious, and slightly boozey dinner. An evening where I felt I started to get to know (and love) Jim—a somewhat intimidating task when you consider how well and long I’ve known (and loved) his partner, John.

So, that dinner had been so lovely, I was fearful we had little hope of replicating it. But, I’m an optimist.

Plus, I had a babysitter.  So really, how bad could it be?

When I climbed into the shower that evening, having slung the kids in bed promptly so Mama could go out (yay for grannies!), I realized my travel-sized worth-its-weight-in-platinum shampoo was out. A wet walk through the bathroom revealed nyet in the shampoo category, and Joan was across the big house—my sleeping babies freshly a-doze between us.

I’ve never done Outward Bound, but back in the shower I figured I could do something crafty, and reached for the Cetaphil face wash. I mean, we used it on the girls’ hair when they were wee, right?

Let’s just say that that night at dinner I looked like a greasy droopy-haired mope, AWOL from the asylum. Early in the evening, I confessed to John and Jim about my hygiene challenge, apologizing that when my hair dried it’d likely be less than adorable. But an hour or so later, it became clear that it wouldn’t even get so far as to appear “dry.”

When the madras-pants-clad owner hustled the check to our table at night’s end—it being clearly later than the employees were keen on still being there—I reached for it. “Oh!” he trilled, in a voice less gay than the term ‘trill’ might imply. And looking over at John and Jim, “I wish a beautiful woman would buy dinner for me!”

Jim glanced at my limp asylum dreads, then up at the restaurant owner and said, “Me too.”

Well one thing I can look forward to back in Cali (the potential for trembling earth aside), is my own ugly green shower, overflowing with embarrassingly costly shampoo. Clean hair, here I come!


2 Comments on “Solid Ground”

  1. 1 wee1 said at 1:41 pm on July 9th, 2009:

    Good thing you didn’t use that Royal Jelly face cream on it. Yikes! Cetaphil is tough stuff.

  2. 2 John said at 7:13 am on July 12th, 2009:

    Funny stuff.
    Your writing, that is.
    The hair was indeed a fright.
    Also funny was your fear that your hair would “frizz out” when it dried, when in reality it remained glued to your head.

    Pack that earthquake emergency kit already!

Leave a Reply