March 12, 2011

Sometimes

Sometimes when the news is so bad, like today's sorrows from Japan, all I can do is walk and think and be sad.

I came out of a building in downtown Lima when I was 13 years old, the ground shaking.  My friend gripped my arm, her face white, and we watched as all around us the buildings swayed, the glass cracking and tumbling down.  "Let go, let go," I pled.  "I've got to run."  But she held on and in our terror we lasted out the nearly minute-long 8.1 earthquake.  While there weren't many lives lost to the quake, it triggered huge mudslides in the mountains that wiped out entire towns.  After that experience-- my first earthquake ever--whenever we'd feel an aftershock, no matter where we were in our house in Miraflores, we'd tear downstairs, fling open the door and stand--all of us--in the doorway, waiting out the temblors.

I live in California, and occasionally I'll feel an earthquake--a shake, a crackling of the wood beams in the walls of my house, a sudden unsettling of the floor.  I go very still and I wait, poised to run down my stairs and stand in the open doorway.  My house is a frame house and we are perched on granite, so my rational mind knows I'm in good shape.  But when you feel the vibrations, no matter where you are, you go very still while your mind races on and on.  When I moved to Wisconsin, people kind of thought I was funny to have lived in California with all its earthquakes, but after a particularly bad tornado season--and after spending a lot of time in my basement--I wondered which disaster is worse: the one you anticipate or the one that travels through the earth unbidden and unannounced.

A disaster is a disaster, no matter what form it takes.  I watched the news all day long; my thoughts and prayers and hopes and courage go to those suffering at this time from the earthquake and tsunami devastation, far far away.




16 comments:

  1. Any disaster, small or big, close or far, stops time. The pause makes people think. Then life pushes people to act again - whether it is kindness to the closest to you or support to the ones who need help to get back on their feet. Priorities shift back in place.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have never been in an earthquake and you, can you count the number of your earthquake experiences? I am nervous that I will not be spared much longer,especially with so many people ignoring reality of global warming.
    Bonnie

    ReplyDelete
  3. My husband commented to me, as we watched the news, "I guess our snowstorms are pretty inconsequential." We have snowstorms and an occasional flood or ice storm but the disasters we see on TV are so devastating to so many people compared to our experiences in the northeast.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I can tell you are nervous, but not in a constant state of panic. I think I would be the same. Did you see this: http://newsroom.lds.org/article/church-statement-on-missionaries-in-japan

    ReplyDelete
  5. Even here in northern Illinois we occasionally experience earthquakes, and of course, tornadoes are more frequent than one would like. Your post captured the feeling of waiting out a disaster beautifully.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Did writing your thoughts, knowing you are sharing with a community who will respond, help you today? There's the power in writing. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan. My husband has friends who live there and we are hoping to hear from them soon.

    ReplyDelete
  8. That second paragraph is some great writing-- your terror really comes through.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You are so right. No matter what disaster it is, they are all disasters and they all affect peoples lives in varying degrees. I can only imagine the terror you must have lived through. I have never experienced an earthquake, let alone a tornado. I pray I never do. I would be the feinting sheep on the ground because of the terror running through me. My sympathies also go out to the people of Japan. Great blog - you expressed yourself very well. The present, the flashback, back to the present. Awesome writing.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "A disaster is a disaster, no matter what form it takes."

    This sentence jumped off the page at me.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Beautifully written. So powerful. The only natural disaster I've ever had to deal with was a hurricane. It was utterly terrifying, but somehow seems -- as I remember if four years later -- more manageable than an earthquake, than a tsunami. My thoughts and prayers, too, are with the people of Japan.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I was just as stunned as you, but I have never lived with any earthquaking or really bad weather. It's unfathomable.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Beautiful post. I will never forget my first earthquake experience, and have spent many quiet moments in the last two days reliving that experience, praying for all who are affected this time around.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Your writing is powerful. The last paragraph sticks with me. I like the way you coupled a short sentence with a long sentence.
    Ruth

    ReplyDelete
  15. Your writing is filled with powerful verbs and vivid images and thoughts. You created so many emotions with your piece. If you don't mind, I would love to be able to use your piece to show to students. Amazing slice.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I can't imagine what you were going through as you heard about the disaster in Japan. It is amazing how in an instant something will trigger a memory & bring you instantly back to something that has happened in your life. I'm praying for those in Japan as they continue to put life back together. I really could feel the fear you experienced. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete