Tunnel Vision

Golden Gate Bridge, San FranciscoI make it through the six-hour flight from Boston to LA. I endure the two-hour wait at LAX, a sprawling compound of too many high-stressed, higher ego-ed people, and then the hour hop to SFO.

I hold my breath, remember to release it as we wait, and wait, and wait for our baggage, which finally rolls around the moving horseshoe 45 minutes after we’ve landed.

Our driver, as roly poly as a malt ball, leads us to his small sedan. I fall back in the car seat, my guy’s briefcase sitting like a rock between us as we speed away from the airport and toward the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County, and freedom from motion once our front door is reached.

But no, instead the car idles in stop and go, bumper-to-bumper malaise on 19th Avenue. On this beautiful Sunday afternoon, thousands and thousands of Bay Area lovers are traveling – somewhere – and are stuck instead on a concrete highway to nowhere.

San Francisco, 19th Avenue, Golden Gate Bridge, traffic

I look out the window at tiny duplexes, the commercial shops selling rubber tires and plastic flowers, the newly sprouted garden lots and dingy gas stations, and I think… uh oh.

A hundred yards from the MacArthur tunnel (the big dark hole we have to drive through to get nearer to the Golden Gate Bridge), I exclaim, loudly yet unintentionally, “Okay, I have to get OUT of here!!”

My guy’s startled glance helps me realize that I sound a bit – crazy? – and the eyes of the front-seat malt ball get rounder and bigger as he stares at me through his rearview mirror.

I open my window – car fumes, anyone? – and pray we don’t stop inside that tunnel. I could lose it – like an inmate too long in her cell. I could kick open the door and run away from the dark dangerous hole of a tunnel toward – what? Would there be light at the end of my tunnel? Or would there be…

MacArthur Tunnel, San Francisco, traffic, Golden Gate Bridge

Something is tapping my knee. Softly at first, then more insistently.

I open my eyes (not realizing they had been squeezed tightly shut) and reach for the item my guy is handing me. His cell phone? With a cord attached to it?

Oh, ear plugs.

Wordlessly, he motions for me to put the ear pieces on. I do, reluctantly. What bad news am I going to hear? The traffic report, for God’s sake?classical  music, music, driving, tunnel, claustrophobia

But no, I hear flute and cello, violin and piano, harmonizing the sounds of angels singing. The music wafts into my brain and my body and my heart. Sweet soulful sounds symbolizing life on the other side of the highways and small cars and tunnels. Life full of green grass, blue skies, puffy clouds, birds soaring, lovers hugging, children laughing. joy trumpeting.

The car stops. My guy reaches for his phone and turns off his app to KDFC, the classical station, because…




Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County

24 thoughts on “Tunnel Vision

  1. My first thought was “is it Friday?” But, then proceeded to read your latest adventure on Thursday….
    Bruce, who traveled a lot for business, always says that the only ones who think travel is glamorous are those who don’t travel….
    Personally, I like the whole “beam me up, Scotty” idea! Just transport me to where I want to be without the hassle of car, bus, train, plane, etc. I love to be places and hate the travel involved getting there!
    And, oh do I understand about sitting in tunnels! On our honeymoon we were stopped in the Balt Harbor Tunnel for hours, the trucks couldn’t turn off their Diesel engines and the smell and the heat…..I cried and begged never to be made to go thru a tunnel again. Which of course didn’t happen, but it was a traumatic experience! How smart your honey was to think of the headphones!
    SO glad you are home! Doggie kisses to Henry – I know he’s glad to have you home, too! xxoo


    • I DO like to post consistently on Friday morning – you mean yesterday was Thursday? Why are the days running into each other like this? :=0
      Yes, Star Trek was one of my favorite shows, probably because of the transporter – all the places we could go! But if there’s a tunnel, a long bridge, traffic, fumes, small spaces, air beneath me, water above me, fergetaboutit. Keep me home with a good book, or a TV show about transporters.
      That Balt Harbor Tunnel — the worst. I feel your pain.


  2. I can so relate to this Pam! My biggest fear is the Ted Williams tunnel! Sometime, over a cup of tea, I’ll tell you some of my many claustrophobia stories!


    • I can’t wait for that promised cuppa tea and stories – I have a feeling we’ll need several cups! Always relieved to find fellow claustrophic travelers – nice to share something, if only to commisserate and realize we are not alone. (P.S. I avoid the T.W. tunnel whenever possible. shiver)


  3. Unfortunately I understand – HATE tunnels – talk to myself and am convinced I can walk out if necessary. Marcia


  4. Pam, it’s sweet that your man knows you so well that he sensed what would help you in that moment. I was mesmerized by your description of the driver with the malt ball eyes. So glad you’re home. Relaxation…


  5. This was so fun. I think you could make an entire series out of this, different trip, different songs, different travel mishaps.

    My family once ran out of gas in a traffic jam on the way to Florida.

    Btw, I love the mental image of your driver giving you the crazy eyes! LOL


    • A series of traffic mishaps…oh, I do have lots of material, that’s for sure! Let’s see, the time the cop stopped me on the Golden Gate Bridge, the time I drove the wrong way on a one way highway, the time… uh oh, I better stop now!!! :=)


  6. As a hardcore commuter (on the opposite end of the country) I can relate, sympathize and empathize. If anyone tells you that getting anywhere is half the fun that person is either a liar, an idiot, or both.


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