It's Monday afternoon, and I'm somewhere between 4th and Townsend and my meeting. My destination only lies a few blocks over there, but traffic is at a stand still. "Bay bridge" I say to myself. Only the bridge could cause such problems. I'm in no real hurry so I relax and take in the world.

My heartbeat seems to slow down and I absorb images without real meaning or sound. A beat develops in my mind (there's always music in my head). A 20-something, with a lit cigarette and a Starbucks, pulls out in front of me in his vintage Plymouth. Kinda cool, kinda hip, kinda preordained. Two guys pull up along side of me with their rap music loud enough to leak into my attention. I like it. Good beat. My head starts bobbing up and down to keep rhythm. We're not moving. I watch the 20-something smoke and sip. He seems pretty lackadaisical about the situation. I watch the traffic lights cycle over and over again, but we're not going anywhere. Someone starts to honk their horn continuously, and another responds my screaming "Shut the fuck up!" at the top of their lungs. The horn stops. I wonder if the retort was in anger or in jest. I figure it was anger, and decide to make my right on 6th instead of here.

6th isn't much better, and again I sit and wonder at my world. A mature Italian woman stares at me from opposing traffic, I think she's smiling. As we creep closer, I realize it's a scowl. Angry at me, angry at the traffic, angry at life? I turn my attention to the sidewalk. There's a man and a woman having a discussion, writing on the trunk of a car and gesturing. An accident? A grungy fellow slowly winds past them, smiling and looking pretty stoned. He pauses to stare at the discussion and then at this reflection in a store window. He smiles incessantly.

Traffic loosens up enough for me to arrive at my destination. I park and walk through cars that aren't moving. "Definitely the bridge," I conclude. I pause to wonder at the traffic. It has taken me an hour for what usually takes me 5 minutes. I shrug and head inside.

After the meeting I head home. I fly onto the bridge and immediately have to stop at a wall of angry stop lights. Hmmm ... odd for this time. Oh well. The jukebox in my head picks a new selection and I drift off.

It takes me 45 minutes to get home instead of the usual 20. I park in the driveway and climb out of my car. Across the street at the apartment complex, music drifts across the evening from an open door. It's loud enough so that I can identify the artist: Bocelli. Instead of being annoyed, I smile and find myself relaxing. I sniff the air, hoping to catch the fragrances of jasmine and honeysuckle. No luck, they haven't bloomed yet. A sigh, and I head inside.