Night Fear

Somewhere between reality and madness there is driving. I applaud loyal readers for putting up with this tiresome subject. But here it is again. It must be noted that one of the many complicating factors in my life behind the wheel is the growing superfluity of getting behind the wheel. Just in the last few days…our Friday night out was facilitated greatly by BART, the regional metro. And a daylong class near the University of California, damned if we didn’t get to Berkeley the same way.

So these days I often drive places…just to drive places. And when I don’t drive places, I drive in place, vis-à-vis starting my car and letting the engine run. In fact, I do the latter often enough to have developed a particular technique. I turn the ignition, depart and leave the car running, then return and hope for the best.

On this particular Sunday morning, I was determined to make an actual drive, no matter how weak the purpose. So where are else but Noe Valley, only about one mile away and full of all the obstacles and tasks that constitute a typical State driving test? Even at nine on a Sunday morning, 24th St. is already full of people shopping, breakfasting, jogging and caffeinating…which means they are also parking. My putative mission was coffee, which lightens the navigational load. Drive more or less anywhere in San Francisco, park where there is space, and you’ll find a café. The neighborhood library being closed, the blue disabled parking space was empty. Space is always empty when you think about it. Don’t think about it. It’s too early.

Naturally, the Diamond Café was reasonably full and warmly hosted by a team from the Middle East. This being California, they were serving, inevitably, a Mexican-themed breakfast along with the usual pastries and Italianate coffees. After that, I did bit of Jane’s shopping. How else to celebrate Hanukkah but with a pork roast? And latkes.

So what’s the point of this Sunday morning meandering? To avoid thinking about the moment when I had to slightly back uphill. Did I mention that I drove into this parking space without reversing? This is nothing to brag about, involving as it did, a major collision with the curb. As for backing up…it’s still a matter of faith on a hill. When I take my foot off the brake and the car is in reverse but begins to drift forward…that is not a good moment, but a bad one. That out-of-control feeling resonates with something within me, and that something is also not good. Fortunately, that’s all there is to this particular vignette. My big fear, that in the panicky instead of rolling forward I will over correct and blast backwards…that didn’t happen. Nothing happened. Except for fear.

Did I mention that on Friday evening Jane and I joined an interface march for peace and justice through San Francisco’s Mission District? The whole concept smacks of such liberal naïveté…that it has to be worthwhile. This particular neighborhood has had more than its share of killings, including, of course, shootings. Many of the latter include the police. So, march we did. Is there anything about someone wearing a clerical collar that guarantees safety? Not really. Not when you’re reminding everyone of a police shooting in which a young Latino kid supposedly lunged with a knife and was shot six times in the back. It was well after dark when ways entered one of the Mission’s more infamous parks. We found a bunch of adolescent guys congregating by a basketball court and wished them well. In particular, we wished them safety. Gangbangers at night on a playground…and I worry about driving? In both instances there’s nothing to do but keep moving.

Comments are closed.