The building I live in faces 580. We are up a steep embankment just where the freeway curves gracefully. The sound of the freeway is comforting to me. The rush of cars flying past is soothing; I am a city person. I grew up on busy avenues or again, like now, so close to large freeways that when I went to the ocean as a kid, my first thought was, “oh it sounds like the freeway!” A city freeway, like the ocean, moves in tides. At night cars fly by, one after the after, constant. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. Tires dully gripping pavement, engines whir in high gear. The rhythm puts me to sleep. Whoosh… whoosh… whoosh. In the morning the sounds get more dense. The swooshing sound stops. The cars aren’t flowing, their jammed together trying to get into the city. Individual clunky engines and tires rolling slowly tug at my ear, as I too, should be waking. I find comfort in that as well. Rush hour congestion proves normalcy. Our urban centers are alive. People are going to work in the morning. In the evening it’s the sound of the whooshing that replaces the sound of gridlock, that again, is comforting. All is well, people are leaving. Night falls. Whoosh… Whoosh… Whoosh…
Empty freeways are not comforting.
In the night when I heard the CHP ordering a car to pull over, hearing the engine rev defiantly, then the pops of gunfire. Immediately hearing cop cars rush up my boulevard that works like a frontage road to the freeway. I can differentiate the sound of a cop car, and not because they have their sirens blaring; you know it’s serious when they don’t want to be heard. No, there is an authority in they way they are handled. They accelerate purposefully, not impatiently, engines never choking, and I can’t hear their tires; perfect inflation lets them grip the street silently. More gunfire. Then still no sirens, knowing that for the amount of shots that just rang through my quiet neighborhood, more sirens should be blaring. Surprised to hear yet again more gunfire. Waiting waiting waiting. No more loud angry pops. Now more sirens; ambulances. Whatever happened is over. Pray no one “innocent” was hurt. Pray for a low body count. Sirens of all kinds approach, the helicopter arrives and stays in place for the next 12 hours.
And my freeway stays quiet. I can’t sleep because 580 is too quiet.