Review 2007: All Roads Lead Home

Kat Herzog on Minnesota

About a week before a visit to my native Minnesota, the road fell into the river.

Most news outlets called it a bridge collapse, but nobody I know ever thought of that stretch of 35W as anything more than a bit of highway that happened to run over the Mississippi River. It's indistinguishable to me from any other part of the highway. It was one of those anonymous capillaries that are part of the vast roadway circulatory system that usually gets you where you need to go with a minimum of fuss.

Being a thousand miles away, it wasn't quite breaking news on network television, and even if it had been, I was at the computer. I read about it right after it was posted to Metafilter, which is, for better or worse, how big news usually finds it way to me. A sucker-punch, a minor black wave of nauseating anxiety washing over my vision, and then I was on the phone. My family was fine, my sister and brother-in-law in verklempt trances in front of the television. One friend was unaccounted for, and repeated hysterical messages ("Even if you are at the bottom of the Mississippi River... you've got to call me back!") to her voice mail were finally answered a few hours later when she checked her messages.

One of my sister's coworkers was among the missing and later -- weeks later -- confirmed dead.

I absorb trauma easily, and this blow so close to home added one more entry on my List Of Things To Daydream About In A Highly Paranoid Fashion. I play The Highway Collapse in my head as I drive along the roadways. The sight of even the most slightly shabby concrete will trigger it. My mind's eye sees the road shudder slightly, the asphalt rolling in an unlikely gentle wave, cracks open, steel girders groan as they buckle, the cars in front of mine fall in a cascade of rubble, airborne and silent for a moment before everything roars in a crunching crush.

I snap back fully to reality, to the reassuring pace of rush hour, to the present view of cars and streetlights, before my car slides off into nothing.

Kat writes Geeky Sweet Nothings.

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