My First Earthquake

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    My First Earthquake Experience

    It was June, 2005. I had just moved to Los Angeles earlier that year. Where I am from (Great Lakes region), we don’t experience earthquakes. Certainly not significant ones. Earthquakes are just not on our minds.

    So you could say I care about earthquakes . . . as much as earthquakes care about me.

    Before boarding the plane for LA, my Mom cried on the phone. She tried the predictable scare tactic, and attempted to fill my head with a lecture on “all the street/gun violence and earthquakes in Los Angeles”. It didn’t work. I rolled my eyes and boarded the plane anyway. She’s my Mom. I expect that from her.

    A few months later, I invited her and her sister (my aunt) for a visit. She was thrilled of course. I turned the tables on her and warned her about “all the street violence and earthquakes”, but strangely, that didn’t stop them from coming. She didn’t give it another thought. When they arrived, the two grey-haired sisters were so excited to hit the town. I’m usually up early, so I gave them my bedroom and I slept on the couch.

    Over the years, I developed an interesting morning ritual of putting on one sock, and taking a few moments to ponder life’s mysteries as I delay putting on the other. I use this period of time – between socks – to gaze out the window and prepare myself for the day. Sometimes it’s 5 minutes. Sometimes much longer. Have been doing it ever since I can remember, and this particular random morning was no different. The dames were still asleep in the other room as I sat there holding the second sock in my hand – watching the sunrise.

    Then . . . . BOOM!!!!

    Not at all what I expected. I always imagined earthquakes to be a short, violent and jittery movement. But this was a sudden shove followed by some large, slow waves. The drapes wafted. A vase broke. Some girl in a nearby apartment screamed. It was remarkable. Almost like I was an insect on a giant waterbed. Like an elephant was sitting directly next to me and decided to change positions.

    I froze and waited for it to be entirely over (about 15 seconds?). That HAD to be an earthquake! Still with one sock in my hand, I barged into the bedroom, and my aunt was laying there with her eyes wide open: “Was that . . . an earthquake?” she asked. This woke my mother . . . “WHAT? AN EARTHQUAKE?? JUST NOW??? AND I MISSED IT???? DAMMIT!!!!!”

    So it seems she’s not as terrified as she originally pretended to be.
    At least she never gave me any grief about earthquakes again.
    But she’ll still nag me when I leave the fridge door open too long.

    After the drama subsided, I bolted for the computer to look up recent earthquakes. It didn’t take long to learn a 5.6 had just occurred in Palm Springs. ( And we felt it 100 miles away? ). I had no previous experience to compare it to, but if that was a 5.6 . . . . I don’t want to experience a 7+, thankyouverymuch.

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