Babygrrl’s First California Earthquake

Do they not make cute bibs that say that?

So, welcome to California indeed.

  • I have watched a Laker’s game at a bar and cheered.
  • I have been lost on freeways that don’t always make sense.
  • I’ve had In n Out burgers, apparently a rite of passage.
  • I’ve been to several beaches, some dirtier than others.
  • I’ve bought stuff on credit at the corner bodega.
  • I’ve walked home at 3AM from the bar on my turf.
  • I’ve been able to give directions.
  • I know the bus and train systems.

And now, my final rite of passage…

the fucking earthquake.

I’ve felt tremors before on the island but not this.

I was on the phone and in a matter of fact voice (I always amaze myself with how calm I am in crisis) informed my friend that I thought it was an earthquake. It took my brain a few minutes to place what was happening as the shaking got more intense. I stood in the doorway (which I have since learned is no better than any other place in the house) on the phone with increasing unease and increasing fear as I hear crackling and watched the yard ripple, everything in my house shake, the cats in the neighborhood going crazy. I stood in the doorway as I tried to discredit what I was feeling. It is an old house after all and sometimes it wiggles just from heavy footfall or neighbor kids running up the stairs. It slowed, then stopped, then shook again.

Finally I turned the tv on to catch the news and saw the seismographic reading and freaked out.  I saw the damage (relatively minor) to some structures, I heard all the predictions, all the expert advice, and was generally a puppet in the hands of the media.  For all my analytical brilliance if they had told me to get duct tape and saran wrap to stay safe I would have run to the hardware store then… oh wait.

My bedroom is upstairs and I spent a scared and sleepless night.

I’ve been in hurricanes and those I can handle.  You have time to prepare, you have time to brace yourself and deal with the fact that nature is powerful beyond belief.  This earthquake shit comes at you out of nowhere and all of a sudden I don’t feel safe.  Hurricanes, floods, blizzards are all manageable and you can get away from the worst of it to one extent or another.  There’s no way to get away from the shaking.  There’s no higher ground (well unless you’re worried about tsunamis then yeah that’s important),  there’s no shelter if your property isn’t safe enough to resist the natural event, there’s no time to get your bag together in case you have to run.  Suddenly the earth is shaking and there’s no getting away.  In a world where I’ve been feeling increasingly unsafe in other daily ways this just was not okay with me.

So, I stayed up all night trying to get right.  And when I did fall asleep I woke up startled coz I felt a wiggle.  I thought it was my imagination but I got online (cause the internetz is never wrong) and there were a series of smaller quakes which I don’t know if they were felt here widely or if my hypervigilance combined with the internetz but it still scared me into staying awake a few more hours, watching dark night shift into dawn and longing for roots.

The other thing this quake brought up for me was my lack of connections here.  I don’t really have People here and that doesn’t feel so safe either.  I had a few friends who, although not geographically present made sure I felt supported.  But really, this shook me up more than I would have expected, pun optional.  This sense of instability and unease has stayed with me, and I’m not sure how to move out of this space.

As much as this place feels like home, yesterday reminded me that it isn’t and that I’m alone here.

My bestie and I are composing a list of items to go in my earthquake preparedness kit.  While I am absolutely calm and together in the crisis, any crisis, when it passes and the dust settles I tend to get a bit, er… um, not so calm? So of course, last night, in my many hours of sleeplessness one of the things I became concerned with was my lack of an earthquake preparedness kit.  Right.  And then the logistics of it: where do I keep it? Do I carry it with me 24/7, as well as my 7 day water supply?  So far we’ve decided I must have lipstick in it, mascara as well, and he suggested a confetti gun as a way of signaling rescue workers while remaining festive.  I’m also thinking of incorporating a party horn thingie as well as the whistle they suggest.  (They being the serious news anchors speaking in grave tones about preparing for The Big One)  He also has ideas on creating a glitter gun for this, because well, if I’m going to be trapped in rubble I might as well be fabulous.

It may be par for the course for people who have been through them dozens of times but I am still not on solid ground.  My roots are doing battle with my wings right now.

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