I’m airborne now, soaring above Mt. Bruno, and gazing over the dipping neckline of the Golden Gate Bridge and the gemlike buildings glinting like chiseled quartz at the tip of the Peninsula. Winds blow in from the Farallons sending whitecaps skittering across the Bay. In all, I feel sadness. I need to flee this place. I think of Rannie, of the service for her this afternoon, and the fact that she once breathed life but no longer does, shadows this whole place in illness.

And she wouldn’t have wanted that. Get the heck out and eat some good food for me, she might have said. No one should feel sad. She joked to her friends to be careful because she was going to come back and haunt them, but only in a good way. They just better keep their eyes open. I feel the haunting has only begun.

The plane arcs across the Pacific, over Mavericks. I look down trying to detect that monster wave but to my eye it is indistinguishable from the rage of other froth that embraces the shoreline. Braver folks then I, though, are even now thrusting themselves into that bracing water. We arc again, up from the Monterrey Bay and across the forested coastal hills. Somewhere in there a little Elliot happened across a charming extraterrestrial whom he would take home and secret away in his closet. And the hills give way to the Salinas valley and the slender ribbon of water that feeds this vast floodplain that each season is transmuted into millions of tons of leafing and fruiting vegetables. This water and this soil rendered into food is ingested each day by human beings all around the world. But already below us are the chock-a-block formations of the Diablo range and the Pinnacles, and in the distance to the west the gentle valley home to the Mission San Buenaventura and the Hearst hunting lodge and dry foothills that may yet become carpeted in vineyard. This is Steinbeck’s Red Pony country.

Eastward we cross yet another coastal range – but now the folding hills support grasslands and cattle until even further east when the water gives out and the land becomes laced with winding strings of road that lead to nest upon nest of oil derricks. McKittrick country. The heaving biblical tempest portrayed in There Shall Be Blood. Here you may own the surface skin of the land, but nothing underneath. The oil and mineral rights were sewed up by conglomerates decades ago. Even from the air the expanse feels like an evil infected tract, our machinery sucking the crude oozing up through the seams.

And then the grand big valley, but harvest is over. The pilot carves a wide circle around a broad patch, mile upon mile, of vineyard – undoubtedly low end grape. He essentially executes a sharp right hand turn, and I wonder why he didn’t choose a more gentle route and wonder if it has something to do with the gale winds building over the coast.

I look down and notice the San Andreas Fault, that rent in the earth signifying where California is slowing tearing away from the rest of the continent. I want to consider this formation, but I don’t know enough and I want for a companion to marvel with, someone who can appreciate the intricate delicacies of this amazing landscape. I look about in the cabin. Nearby passengers are engrossed in books or magazines or iPods. And then my own attention drifts away.

I email Danny Feikin many hours later from a motel in Flagstaff.

Rannie Yoo died on Sunday and her memorial service is today. I debated staying all the way up to when I was standing in the security line at SFO and then just decided I needed to get the hell out of that city. Flew into Flag in 60 mph winds in a prop plane. I thought that you must be use to that shit, but I’m not. And I thought I wanted to just fly around the sw with you – you’re the only other person I know who would really give a rip about flying over the san andreas fault or the pinnicles or an open pit copper mine in bagdad (I later learned from google maps because no one else on the plane knew or cared), or the colorado river, or the duststorm blowing beneath us in the mojave. Or some vast tract of subdivided desert subdivided for what? Or over the boneyard.

His reply:

The USG must not have liked what Rannie Yoo did. Barracuda web filter blocking all websites referring to her. Was she the kindred spirit you blogged about during your xrt days?

I can’t wait until life is as simple and immediate as flying over the san andreas fault as the goal and summit of one’s day.

To which I feel there is only one response.

That we can’t wait. That the future does not exist. That Rannie will never know it. That the only faultlines available to her were her final breaths.

A fact that now begs me to seek the fault lines in my own life, no matter how big or how small. I need to recognize them. I need to investigate. If only for Rannie’s sake.

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