Thursday, September 28, 2006

Atmospheric Pressure

Right after 9/11 there was a huge thunderstorm in the Bay Area. I come from a monsoon area - most summers we get really remarkable electric storms; it's one of the few things I like about the weather here. Virginia got storms that put the New Mexico type to shame - real window-rattlers that made at least one child laugh unconvincingly and announce that it 'wasn't really scared much at all thanks and maybe we should have a camp out together please and thank you?' But in the three years we lived in California we had one storm, just one - this one.

Kirk watched the sky. I watched Kirk. I watched him think about crop dusters and the local airport. I watched him check the temperature and the local humidity, and I wondered about what the range was for keeping small pox virulent for air delivery. We listened for the high-flying military planes that were patrolling the coast, and I considered rumors I had heard about cloud seeding, triggering sudden and violent storms that could, maybe, wash things clean.

But I didn't ask.

We walked to the crumbling cliff north of our house, a place where there are precarious benches anchored in concrete. The ground erodes away beneath them, and you end up swinging your legs like small children at a cafeteria lunch table. Underneath, the tide pounds into hollows, making echoey booms and sending spray shooting up every fourth or fifth wave. The rain came steaming down, and lightning flashed over the water.

A friend said the next day that it felt like the whole world was raging, a natural catharsis. It helped, she said, it cleared the air.

Yes, I answered. I hope so.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's too son to ask in the sequence of your stories, but did Kirk regret leaving the AF after the 9-11 attacks? (Not so much because he and his team might have stopped them but more as a sense of his own personal duty.)

child 2 said...

i think it was more like a habitual thought. he had a job that required him to think of the worst that could happen when disaster strikes. he had been thinking in paranoia for so long, i think it was just a natural reaction.

For Kirk said...

Hope the above answers this a bit. But I'll add the short answer: yes. Yes, he did regret it.

Answering for myself - I have to wonder what it would have been like had he been in when it happened. If he had been in a position where, however unlikely it might be, he could have stopped it, what would that have done to him? I don't know.