I guess by now you’ve all heard about the earthquake that struck Southern California and Baja yesterday. I did feel it, and like always I marveled at the power of the earth to shake and shimmy like a go-go dancer. Having lived in this region much of my life, this was certainly not the first earthquake I felt. There was the 6.something in 1990 when I lived on the 7th floor of my almost 80-year-old dorm building. And the large one when I was camping with my parents in an RV at the beach, on a cliff, overlooking the water, when I hoped Dad had set the emergency brake so that we didn’t take a take a short cut down the cliff to the beach. You get the picture.
Everyone that lives some place else can’t understand why I’m not terrified of earthquakes. I have two words at first: Hurricane and Tornado. But truthfully, I lived through the Northridge quake. Earthquakes don’t scare me anymore. I was finishing UCLA and was a nanny for a really amazing family. I lived in the guesthouse by the pool, my life was pretty damn perfect. The quake hit in the early morning, it wasn’t quite dawn. Everything in my little guest house fell off the walls, crashing down around me. I grabbed the only pair of shoes I could find, a pair of sandals. Stupid, but anyway. I dodged the waves almost as tall as me coming out of the pool to get to the main house. I made it through the main house in my sandals, through the kitchen littered with broken glass bottles of vinegar which I didn’t even smell in my panic. I got to the family at the back of the house. They were prepared with the radio, the gas had already been shut off and we hunkered down through the after shocks. Later on we took at tour of the neighborhood and saw plenty of destruction. Houses where chimneys had taken down entire walls of homes, exposing them like doll houses. Really upsetting to see peoples lives exposed and falling apart. The freeway overpass near the house had collapsed, making for a terrible mess of construction and commutes for months to come. But I survived.
Reminding myself that I survived helps me to not fear them now. Reminding myself that more than likely I’ll live through the next earthquake too. Whether it’s a real earthquake, or some other change. Some seismic shift in my life that threatens to shake my foundation. I’ll remember back to a time, a situation or circumstance, that really shook me up good. I’ll remember that I picked myself up, took stock and moved forward. Here’s to not fearing earthquakes.