I was trying to take a nap upstairs in my parents’ house. It was a geodesic dome, and my twin bed was tucked into a corner where an internal wall met the downward arc of the roof. Just as I was drifting off, the bed began to rock and then shake. My first thought was that a mild earthquake was a nice way to be rocked to sleep. But the shaking continued to intensify. I quickly got up and went out onto the landing.
I walked downstairs as my parents appeared at opposite ends of the living room that spanned the dome. Hundreds of antiques shook and swayed. Outside, my mother’s car pitched up and down as waves rippled through the ground beneath it. The two young redwood trees behind the car shook violently. Of course it seemed to take several minutes before it had passed.
When it subsided and was gone, I assumed that it was no worse anywhere else and was prepared to go on with my day. My parents insisted that it must have made the news and turned on the radio. Sure enough, we soon heard that the Bay Bridge had collapsed (leading everyone to picture the complete destruction of the suspension bridge) and damage was widespread. Television news quickly showed the fallen deck on the cantilever section of the bridge, and for years people would wonder at the driver who headed toward the enormous gap at full tilt. The next drama was the damage and fire in the Marina district. The longest-running drama was the collapse of the Nimitz structure and the work to rescue those that were trapped, some for days.
The morning after the collapse, I remember having breakfast at Cafe Barbara in Lafayette and listening to someone at the next table describe having his flight diverted to Las Vegas and driving a rental car through the night to get back to the Bay Area. His daughter as working in San Francisco and was essentially trapped there overnight. That’s all I really recall. It must have been my first semester at Diablo Valley College, so I was probably too preoccupied with my Art History class with Ann Piper to pay much attention to anything else.