Tuesday, October 24, 2006

2 Brm, Hdwd Flrs, Easy Walk to Freeway

Today I took a walk near the Oakland Estuary and discovered two interesting things. The first is the intersection of 8th Avenue and 8th Street, which some eccentric part of me found appealing. Eight is a very auspicious number in Chinese culture, and not surprisingly, the blocks right around there did seem to be heavily Asian.

I also discovered why late at night or early in the morning, when there is little local noise in my neighborhood, I sometimes think I can hear BART trains. And regular trains. And vehicles that sound like trucks even though 18-wheelers are prohibited on 580, the freeway nearest my apartment. It’s because I really can hear all these things.

In most of San Francisco, and along a lot of its Berkeley and Oakland length, BART runs underground. I knew it popped up between Lake Merritt and the Coliseum, but I didn’t realize it did so so close to where I live. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I didn’t realize I lived so close to the place where it comes above ground. But now that I’ve walked there, I understand that it isn’t so far. It just seemed that way because it’s a couple of neighborhoods away. Ditto the freight train tracks, and an elevated section of truck-heavy Highway 880. I knew they were there, of course, I just always thought of these things as being too far away to be audible.

It’s the middle of the day right now, and I can’t hear the freeway at all. All that traffic hiss must be blending into white noise. But I just realized that right now, I can hear a train whistle. That’s pretty cool, and makes me like my neighborhood even more.

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