“I’ve driven across this bridge every few days for thirty years. There are bridges, and there are bridges; this one had the most magnificent view of downtown available, and it’s a miracle I never rear-ended anyone while gawking at the skyline, the old Stone Bridge, the Mississippi. You always felt proud to be here when you crossed that bridge, pleased to live in such a beautiful place. Didn’t matter if it was summer twilight or hard cold winter noon - Minneapolis always seemed to be standing at attention, posing for a formal portrait . We’ll have that view again – but it’ll take a generation before it’s no longer tinged with regret and remembrance.”
Around 5:45 p.m. last night, I drove DemiGoddess the Elder to a library one suburb over from ours, where she met up with a couple of friends to do some volunteer work. Ms. Elder has been very vocal about the fact that she is boycotting McDonald’s because of their contributions to rainforest deforestation, so last night, while she was otherwise occupied with her friends, I took the opportunity to stop at our neighborhood McDonald’s to pick up some dinner for Demi the Younger and myself. We two still enjoy our junk food.
Sitting in my car outside the drive thru window, I was deep in my head about some incredibly important thing or other, when I looked up and noticed the sunshine on the trees across the street. Really saw the late summer lushness of the leaves, and the gold tinge of the light.
I thought of all the days, of all the dates that disappear from memory while we are so occupied by life that they slip past without notice. I thought of the dates, like September 11, that we never forget because of some awful tragedy that marks them. I said to myself, “Today is Wednesday, August 1.”
That was at about 6:20 p.m. The bridge collapsed at 6:05, although I didn’t know that until I was home and My Ho called to see if I was okay. I didn't understand the reason for the concern in his voice. He told me to turn on the TV.
A number of Twins fans were on and near that bridge last night, headed for the baseball game that started an hour later. During the live news coverage, my breath caught when a hovering news helicopter captured the image of a woman wearing a Kirby Puckett jersey, the number 34 clearly visible on her back, standing near her crumpled car on one of the fallen slabs. In video clips of people helping survivors reach safety, I saw Twins jerseys, T-shirts or hats on both the rescuers and the rescued.
I saw the lot where I parked before the games during the playoffs last October.
The fact that so many of the people who survived the fall, banged up but mostly okay, immediately ran back onto the rubble to help other people, that they went back to help carry those children off that school bus, says so much about the people who live in these Twin Cities. It makes me so proud to have been born and raised here.
I keep thinking of Governor Tim Pawlenty’s oft-repeated no-new-taxes policy.
Somehow, I am not taking a lot of comfort from our president's statement that he is praying for us.
I was on the phone last night with my sister Betsy when a journalist from a Montreal, Canada, CNN affiliate called on her other line. Apparently he had called the French restaurant where she works, hoping to find someone there who could speak French, and the restaurant manager gave the journalist my sister’s phone number. She can, in fact, speak French, but she had just heard the news herself and wasn’t able to provide him with much information.
I talked to many friends and family members on the phone last night, brief conversations mostly consisting of, “Are you okay? Good. Yeah, we’re fine. I know. I can't believe it, either. I’ll call you later.” This morning I had e-mails from people in town, as well as from family members in Boston and even London. Such tiny gestures of concern that speak volumes. Thank you to everybody who has checked in.
I love you, too.