The first time I came here was the first time I realized how much I adored the girl shuffling to the hidden button that would open the gates. I don’t think it would have ever occurred to me that within a few years this would be the location where I would announce to her family that I’d asked her to marry me and that she had said yes. No, at the time I was too busy turning the soil, plucking the sprouts of an oak tree, singing to myself. I wanted to come back, sit on the patio and write or play my guitar. That was the first impression this place ever had on me.
My hands shook as I raced into my boots, eager to join the crowd of people fleeing their vehicles. But people have all fled and the tunnel now is quiet, and nearly calm in the narrow aisles between lumber trucks and gravel trucks. The light is dark and yellow, already thick with smoke. An abandoned Caltrans truck silently flashes red and yellow light on the walls and in the windows and mirrors of other abandoned vehicles. Paint and engine oil are burning, I’m the last idiot in the tunnel breathing in their fumes. But their selling point is in their cinematic appeal. And although I am not terrified, and the owners of these abandoned vehicles are safe, there is just enough fear mingling with this smoke for me to close my eyes and imagine terror, open them as a spectator in a nightmare. And the novelty of that feeling is keeping me here.