Saturday, October 17, 2009

20 Years Ago Today....

Twenty years ago today marks the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area. For most Bay Area residents, they can remember exactly what happened to them that day. It was a bit different for me. I didn't experience the earthquake because I was on a plane flying to Columbus, OH.

About 6 months before the quake, I worked for a very short time for a lighting company in Berkeley. I ended up losing the job 3 months later. At the time, it was pretty devastating, as it was the first job I didn't quit on my own to go to another. I felt lost and wasn't sure what I'd do next. Looking back on it now, I'm glad the job didn't work out. I decided to take some time away from San Francisco and arranged to fly to Columbus to visit my sister Cindy.

In 1989, when it wasn't work, it was usually playing softball. My co-ed team at the time included Jeff, a teammate who played outfield or 1st base. I developed a huge crush on him when we first met. We often hung out with other teammates after games and practices, usually sitting next to each other when the team would go out to eat.

There were a few times Jeff and I would hang out together solo, and it was during those times I'd throw him my car keys and let him drive my first stickshift car, a 1988 blue Acura Integra. The picture of the Integra on this blog entry is very similar to the car I drove, except the color of my car was a lighter shade of blue.

As the date neared for my trip to Columbus, I asked Jeff if he could watch my car while I was away. He agreed and would take me to the airport to catch my flight.

After Jeff dropped me off at SFO and I flew off into the wild blue yonder, I hoped I'd land in time to catch the opening pitch of the Bay Bridge World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's. I arrived in Columbus around 8:30 pm. When Cindy found me at the gate, this is the dialog that immediately followed:

Cindy: There's been an earthquake in San Francisco!
me: How bad was it?
Cindy: I think it was something like a 5 (Richter scale reading). But part of the Bay Bridge fell off!
me: If the part of the Bay Bridge fell off, it was a lot more than 5.

Cindy and I got to her house within a half-hour. Not more than 5 minutes later, Mom calls, frantically wondering if I made it to Columbus or not. I heard Cindy saying on the phone, "she's right here, Mom". I then talked to Mom for a few minutes assuring her I was fine.

My itinerary was to stay in Columbus for 2 weeks and fly back to San Francisco. Mom didn't want me to go back. Even though I had no job at the time, for me it was a no-brainer. I flew back to San Francisco after a 2-week stay.

Forward to the present, 20 years later: I now live in the Inner Sunset district after having lived in the Inner Richmond district at the time of the earthquake until 2002. I'll have experienced 3 more job layoffs but now have a decent job with decent pay. I no longer play softball. I still drive a blue car with a stickshift, but now it is a BMW 325i.

And whatever happened to Jeff, the softball teammate who watched and drove my car while I was away in Ohio for 2 weeks? We lost touch about a year after the earthquake. Over the years, I always wondered what happened to him. After my 9-year relationship ended earlier this year (March 2009), I wanted to get back in touch with people I hadn't seen in a long time.

Jeff was among the first I wanted to contact. I ended up finding him at I emailed him to say hello in late June. We got together for lunch in August. We fell madly in love and have been together since. He's the Jeff that has been subject of many recent Tweets and cause for my stupid grins.

So for everyone living in the San Francisco Bay Area on October 17, 1989, the earth moved. It moved again for 2 other people 20 years later. And yes, Jeff has driven the BMW.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom

As I tweeted this morning, today is Mom's 72nd birthday.

Growing up, Mom was boss. She got us up in the morning for school and made us breakfast. She made sure we had lunch money, or packed us a sandwich for those few times we brown bagged it. She went to the grocery store and paid the bills. If we wanted to do a family outing like dinner and movie, we wouldn't go unless Mom wanted to go. If I wanted expensive sneakers such as my Adidas Cross Country with the green stripes or Nike Cortez with the red swoosh, Dad would tell us to ask Mom.

Mom was in charge at the restaurant during daytime hours. I sometimes tagged along with her during summer vacation and used to play in the air conditioned dining room. She always made an awesome lunch like hamburgers, fried rice, chicken or shrimp while there. She knew our neighbors and was friendly with most of our friends that visited our house.

When Mom wasn't working, she played mah-jongg. Lots and lots of it. She'd often take us to homes of other Chinese families, play long into the night and go to work that morning often with no more than a few hours of sleep. Years later, when I'd come back to Columbus to visit during the holidays, Mom was always in search of the next mah-jongg game somewhere in town, even if the weather conditions were less than ideal. She lives now in New York's Chinatown and still plays mah-jongg several times a week.

While I don't see Mom more than a few times a year anymore, she's the main reason why I had such a fun and memorable childhood. I wish she'd take more vacations, but she's happiest when she's busy.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you and couldn't have made it without you.