Sitting on the short pier off Jack London Square, the sun is hitting my back and the wind is flying my hair around, which should make me look glamorous but doesn’t. I can hear two girls talking about a third, gulls calling out where the best dinner is to be had, music blasting from across the water, from Alameda where I live. An old man, bent and grizzled, looks like an old sailor as he aches his way off the bench at the end of the pier and climbs onto his mountain bike. He coasts by me, his tires clicking .
The yachts are rocking up and down, yawning and groaning with a deep satisfaction. The ferry’s low horn sounds in the estuary, its rumbling engine churns the water. The office toilers are returning home to bask in what remains of the fog-free afternoon.
My sinuses are swollen shut and I can’t smell the water that surrounds me, nor the food cooking in all the fancy restaurants.
My shadow is cast in front of me and in it I cannot see the frump fest of middle age, my crinkly eyes, the mottling of my Irish/Scottish/English skin. I can see my earrings bob when I shake my head and that I am writing in a shadow book.
The bay doesn’t care about bodies. It is the law of buoyancy that applies, the principal of wetness, the hydrogen oxygen mix of atoms that matter here. The water is no more or less wet on the Queen’s toe across the pond. If only human perception complied with nature’s rules, if discernment were a mathematical formula: knowable, predictable, true.