Sunday, November 22, 2009


I've saved this Nuala O'Faolin (pronounced Noolah O'Fwahlin) quote that I love:
"She thought she could hear time passing. But its passing did not soothe the ache that possessed her. She waited. . . She never doubted that what she was waiting for would happen." Sometimes the resonance is so existential. Then on days like today you drop someone off at the ferry and turn around to come home, maybe in time to make second service at church and BAM. Traffic stops.

The Hood Canal bridge has opened for a submarine or a floating taco stand or a Navy issued dolphin or sea lion. And hundreds of cars stretch in front of you, and soon behind you, waiting for the bridge to open. I turn off my engine and give thanks for the fact that I've brought the apple breakfast pie in a basket in the back seat because it came out of the oven too late to have it before we left home. Then I realize I'm not hungry. I'm a little chilly sitting there with the engine off, but I'm not hungry. And it's raining out so I don't really want to get out and walk about to try and warm up, either. I figure I'll watch other folks for a while and maybe invite someone in for coffee cake as we wait.

The young couple in the BMW in front of me slip out of their car for a smoke. The girl looks a little worn for her tender years. I call out asking if the bridge is open. The pimply faced skinny guy with no ass to hold up his precariously hanging denims answers me: "no, the bridge isn't open." Which tells me he isn't used to the bridge. When we say "open" we mean the drawbridge has been opened to let something pass. Not "open" for travel. I decide these are not coffee cake-worthy people but not because they don't get what "open" means in this context. I just don't want the smell of cigarette smoke in the same car with Apple Breakfast Pie's yummy cinnamon sugar overtones.

Then a truck door a few vehicles behind me opens up and a dog bolts out and starts patroling the long line, snout to the ground. A few minutes later a beefy guy about six feet tall wearing a cowboy hat saunters along behind the hound emitting two sharp little whistles every now and then. The whistles are meant to convince the rest of us that his dog will come back to him. Any second now. Really. About five minutes later the dog prances near my car and sits, looking back down the line, waiting for his whistling man to catch up. Yeah, I think we know who's in charge here. Probably not right to offer coffeecake to the dog and not the man.

All this while the lines grow longer and people begin to get a little impatient. A few vehicles pass the line then slow, suddenly, as if realizing too late what was going on, then pull a "u" turn and drive to the back of the line, turn around and get in the queue. But after a bit longer one truck a few cars ahead of me pulls out of line and drives off. Seconds later another truck, from a few spots behind me, screams out of line and forward, then veers sharply into the vacated slot. "Right," I think, "because when this line starts moving you're THAT much closer to ......WHAT?" And then we do start moving, quite slowly as traffic has been stopped in both directions, of course. As we crossed the bridge I look up the canal and down and see only one smallish boat heading up, pretty far in the distance. On the other side of the water I'm surprised to see a line of vehicles stretching for miles, I think at least six miles, in fact, up the hill and nearly to the turn-off to town.

So today I missed church. But some days are for going slow, I figure. And for watching how people respond to being slowed down. And for not necessarily sharing your coffeecake.