Earthquake!

Dear Erin,

I love your pictures. I can almost see myself there. I can hear the gulls and smell the sharp air; I can see the sparkling horizon stretching out beyond sight. I hope it was breezy while you were there; a still beach is a dead beach. It needs the wind to rush down it and bring it life.

Speaking of liveliness, did I tell you what happened last Thursday? I felt my first official earthquake! And it was … low-key, and exciting more for the idea than the reality. I say “official” because there have been a couple times since we’ve moved here that I’ve woken up and been sure the house was shaking slightly. But if those tremors were real, and not just waking dreams, they weren’t enough for anyone else to notice.

But this time, there was no mistaking it. It was slightly after 10 pm, and Charles and I were watching Elementary (a wonderful show, by the way; highly recommend it). I was on the couch and he was in the recliner. As I remember it, I heard a thump outside and the wall next to me shook, and so did the couch. Just for a second, but it was unmistakable. Charles and I looked at each other, and he said, “Earthquake?”

I thought, “surely not,” because I was under the impression that it had been a localized shaking. Nothing else in the house seemed to have been affected. To be honest, my first thought was that something had hit the roof and slightly shaken part of the house. My second thought was that the washing machine, which was running at the time, had gotten unbalanced and had shaken itself into trouble.

But no, it was an earthquake. 3.5 and maybe 15 or 20 miles from us. Clearly, though, it’s not a big deal because only the young people and the newbies (like me) commented on it on Facebook, and everyone had pretty much forgotten about it the next day. The experience was almost the opposite of a hurricane. A hurricane is all about days or weeks of build up, and many times you just end up getting a little rain and wind. In this instance, the event just happened, out of nowhere, and all the thinking about it and processing it took place after the fact. No opportunity for dread, for tension, to build to such a height that you have to cut it with a hurricane party. Just a thump, a shiver, and it’s over.

Speaking of dread and tension that build to a distracting fever that you have to cut with a party, we saw The Great Gatsby yesterday afternoon. Actually really enjoyed most of it. But watching that is in some ways like watching a hurricane approach: disaster is coming for someone, achingly slowly but absolutely unavoidably. If these people were smarter, they’d evacuate, but for one reason or another, they refuse to leave and save themselves. And when the storm hits, some of them don’t survive. Now I feel like I need to back and re-read that book whenever I’m homesick for a hurricane.

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