Walking Home from SF State

Jeffrey Linn

When the quake hit, I was studying in the library at SFSU. I felt the first slight shaking, and wondered if it was an earthquake, but as it got stronger, I knew that it was. The lesson of many years of California elementary school earthquake drills kicked in, and I dove under the heavy library table. Seconds later, shelves were jumping up and down and books were falling down all around me. I was horrified as the thought came to mind—“I’m in the old part of the library!” Fortunately, the structure held, and when the shaking stopped, I looked out from under the table. The piles of fallen books had released decades of accumulated dust, and a cloud was slowly rising to the ceiling. I’d never realized that old books were so grimy.

Afterwards, I had to make my way back home to the Mission. Because of the power outages, all electrified transportation was out of service—no Muni, no trolleys. So I started walking home. By the time I made it to the Inner Sunset, it was getting dark, and the bars were starting to fill up. I peeked through the window of the Little Shamrock on Lincoln & 9th, and saw brief images of the fire in the Marina and the collapsed deck of the Bay Bridge. Then the power went out, and I kept walking.

By the time I made it to the Castro, it was dark and the bars were packed. Everyone knew it was a huge event, and the folks of the Castro are never ones to pass up an opportunity to throw a party. There was a sense of both revelry and generosity–the Walgreens had closed, but the manager and employees were standing in front of the store, handing out free batteries and flashlights to whoever wanted them. It was festive and joyous. The rest of my walk was quiet and uneventful. When I got back to my apartment on Oakwood Street, it was dark—the power was still out, but was restored within an hour.