At Galería de la Raza at 24th Street and Bryant, I don’t remember the sound but clearly remember the floor of Studio 24 rolling like waves at the beach under my feet. The shelves that ran half the length of the store loaded with Mexican glassware and ceramics lifted and dipped with each wave. The drinking glasses, pitchers, candlestick holders, figurines, dishes, and cups, levitated and gently fell back on their respective shelves shifting slightly as they landed. Very little broke, because the earthquake seemingly rolled down Bryant Street. Had it arrived perpendicularly down 24th Street, I‘m sure the shelves would have tipped over and everything would have spilled creating a carpet of sharp glass and clay shards at our feet. I stood hanging on to one of the pillars, Umberto at another. In my nervousness I just babbled calmly about mundane things unrelated to the violent shaking.
When it stopped I called my parents in Chicago from the payphone on the corner to tell them I was okay and asked them to tell Susie I was safe when she called since I called first. This out-of-state call-in procedure was one of the few disaster preparations we had arranged. My mom told me the Bay Bridge was broken. Realizing I wasn’t going to make it home to Berkeley until the next day, I walked the four blocks to Ray’s house in Balmy Alley. Frank and Nora arrived seeking refuge too. I took a romantic photo of them in Ray’s doorway illuminated by car headlights as night arrived early in the Mission; the streetlights and houselights dark without electricity. The car radio told us the Cypress freeway collapsed in Oakland. We opened bottles of Gundlach-Bunschu wine from Sonoma, toasting our good fortune. We made a plan to wake up early if the power was restored to get to the ATM machine before the money ran out. I fell asleep on Ray’s couch.