April 20, 2013

our first earthquake

This morning was eventful for us, but it was awful for the folks who live 70 miles southwest of here, where a 6.9 earthquake killed handfuls of people and injured hundreds more.

Today started out a sunny Saturday morning in our enormous city.  Some people were asleep.  Others like us, with small children, were up and breakfasting, but we were all groggy and unkempt, getting our bearings after a long work week.

During our devotional time at the breakfast table, while Daniel was reading about Goliath in his boxer shorts (Daniel in his boxer shorts, not Goliath) the earth began to shake.  Actually, I would describe it as more of a roll, like we were riding on water. 

First, I gripped the wobbling dining table with both hands, my eyes wide and alert.  Next, I released the table, grabbed the two kids nearest me, and ran for the front door.

"Stop!" Daniel shouted, "everybody come together in the doorway."

So we huddled there, the six of us, in the doorway leading out of our apartment, until the biggest waves of movement had subsided.   We could hear things falling inside our home.  When we felt that the quaking had lessened, we hurried down the seven flights of stairs, in our bare feet and pajamas, with nothing in-tow but our kids.

Once on the ground, we met up with hoards of neighbors, all in their pajamas, most in bare feet.  I take that back, our neighbor Alan was not in his pajamas.  Alan had put on his pants and belt, and hat, and had thought to grab his emergency bag, which he keeps on-hand.  Alan, who reminds me a lot of my dad, stood in stark contrast to my own dear husband, who was still in his boxer shorts.

Another friend had thought to grab a carafe of hot coffee on his way out, and was passing around little Dixie cups of strong brew.  I was more than happy to partake, since my own mug of coffee sat un-sipped and cooling on my dining room table on the seventh floor.  Actually, it sat in a pool around the mug, for it had sloshed everywhere during the quake, but I wouldn't know that until later.
That's my husband in the red shirt, in his underwear.
Coffee, anyone?
For almost an hour, or so it seemed, we milled around outside, laughing at each others' pajamas, petting our neighbor's pet bunny (which they remembered to grab on their way out; our George Fuzzy was left to fend for himself), and letting the kids crawl in-and-out of our parked van to occupy themselves.

But it wasn't all fun and games.  The local people, gathered around us in clusters for as far as the eye could see, were somber and some of them crying, remembering past and recent catastrophic earthquakes which affected many people they knew.

One group of very old gentlemen stood waving their arms and ducking their heads as they talked, each of them in turn telling and acting out stories of long-ago quakes.

Finally the crowds dispersed, and we mounted the stairs to our home once again.  A vase had fallen from the top of our dish hutch, pictures were cockeyed on the wall, bottles had fallen inside the pantry, and of course my coffee had spilled everywhere, but otherwise things looked pretty much the same.  We washed our filthy bare feet and sat back down to finish our now-cold breakfast.

The rest of the morning had the feeling of water boiling; all of us jumpy, everything eerie.  Our city, which is usually quiet and serene for its size, was buzzing with a million murmurs as people along the streets below our window talked and talked and talked about the quake, and quakes before it.

The aftershocks came.  We placed a bottle of half-empty children's liquid Benadryl on top of our hutch.  If we thought we felt the apartment moving, we could look at the bright red liquid inside the Benadryl bottle;  if it was sloshing, we knew to get under a doorway.  If it was still, we knew to carry on.

The shocks are slowing now, as the reports pour in of the damages at the epicenter.  We are praying for the survivors.

Today's earthquake reminded me of why we build our lives on G0D and nothing else.  When the very ground beneath our feet begins to roll like its made of liquid, G0D stays completely still.  Guaranteed.