Last night could have gone very differently. At exactly 6:00pm, we popped Dr. Evil in his crate and headed out the door to meet friends for dinner. Thanks to our lucky star, or to our guardian angel or to who knows what protective forces, we’d chosen a spot none of us had been to before, a Thai restaurant in a far-flung suburb. Not our neighborhood, not theirs either. But it had great reviews, and the oddity of the location somehow added to its charm.
Everybody arrived as planned at 6:30 and sat down to some truly excellent food in the mostly-empty strip mall storefront. The large-screen TV across the room was flashing an Asian hootchie mama music video, “I Will Survive” creatively mixed with “Fly Me To the Moon.” It was a hoot, and we were prepared to spend the evening happily catching up on a year’s worth of conversation.
The proprietor brought frightening news with our entrees: a major freeway bridge had collapsed into the Mississippi River. Highway 35W, right near downtown, a bridge we’ve driven countless times.
He flipped the TV away from gyrating booties to a local news station, and we watched the surreal scene in horror. Fifty cars in the river. Twenty highway workers on the bridge when it fell. At 6:05, the peak of rush hour. The time we would have been on that freeway, nearing that very spot, had we chosen any one of a hundred other restaurants for dinner.
This was the kind of scene that doesn’t happen in Minnesota. None of us could remember anything remotely like it. We don’t get earthquakes or mudslides or hurricanes or any of those sorts of disasters that typically cause bridges to fall. Snow and the occasional tornado are about it. It was shocking for us, from the safety of our cozy vantage point, and I spent much of the evening imagining how people must have felt as they sensed the bridge vibrating and the road underneath them giving way, the road that had always promised to be solid and to carry them home to hugs and dinners and the pleasant, mundane comfort of watching the evening news–not being in it. Not dying in Old Man River’s watery, muddy clutches.
As much as we enjoyed each other’s company last night, and the good food and our friends’s charming and previously-unseen-by-us-baby, every one of us was shaken. By the time the fortune cookies arrived bearing good wishes, we all wanted to be home, to check in with family and friends and make sure everybody was all right. To make sure they knew we were all right. We said our goodbyes and departed in torrential rain, the first good rain we’ve seen here in weeks. A sky’s worth of tears for everyone who didn’t make it home.
Trackbacks & Pingbacks
Comments are not allowed at this time.