On Sunday, I drove over the Bay Bridge to the San Francisco airport to attend a conference in Washington, D.C. It was my very last trip over that bridge since they will be closing it this week and opening the new bridge after Labor Day. My very first trip over the Bay Bridge was 49 years ago when our family moved here from Canton, Ohio in 1964 -- I was seven years old.
I remember leaving Canton that October day. It was snowing and gray. We were all dressed up as people used to do for airline travel in those days. There were no security lines, no baggage fees and plenty of room and free food. My dad had flown ahead and found us a home in Danville, a sleepy little town of less than 4,000 people. He loaded my Mom and all five of us kids into the shiny new station wagon and headed east to our new home.
I'll never forget that car ride. I pressed my face up to the window and watched in wonder as we drove over that bridge. There were a lot of firsts for me -- my first plane ride, my first ocean, my first big city and my first mountains. I barely noticed as my one-year-old sister fussed, our two Siamese cats howled, and my older sister sneezed from what turned out to be an allergy to Eucalyptus trees. I was mesmerized by the new landscape and excited about our new life.
A lot has changed since then. Danville is no longer a tiny little town. We later moved to Napa and that area has also changed a lot over the years. My Mom is no longer with us and most of my siblings have left the area. But the beauty and the wonder of the Bay Area stays the same.
I am so grateful that my parents brought us to the Bay Area and I can't imagine living anywhere else. Although I know I'll never drive over that same bridge again, I know the new one will be beautiful in its own way. The Bay Area and life in general has changed a lot since that day back in 1964. I said a fond farewell to the old bridge but I'm already looking forward to the new view.