Friday, July 9, 2010

Nana Gets Shaken in San Diego

I visited my brother in San Diego this past week. On Wednesday there was an earthquake. Even though I was raised in Southern California, I don’t remember earthquakes from my childhood. I was away at college for the big Sylmar earthquake of 1970, where my family was evacuated and had to camp out at a local high school for several days.

On Wednesday I was standing in my brother’s kitchen. I felt a rumble and in my memory I think I hear a noise like machinery starting, but I don’t think there was really a noise. The memory is my brain trying to make sense of the environmental input. I felt the shaking and then a rhythmic rolling, rumble under my feet. It rolled and rolled for over a minute. I wasn’t frightened, nothing was falling off the walls. We stopped what we were doing and looked at each other for the long duration of the quake…wondering if this was the big one. We later learned that it was a 5.5 earthquake.

In 1976 I was in Costa Rica for Peace Corp training. Our daily classes were held at a coffee farm outside of San Jose, in La Guacima. The classrooms were converted farm buildings with dirt floors. One day during a Spanish class, while I struggled to answer “Que esta haciendo?”, I felt my chair moving. I turned to look, but there was no one shaking my chair. The shaking went on for over a minute. It was an earthquake.

I think perhaps that earthquakes are the universe’s way of reminding us that we can never really be in control. Wednesday’s quake was a strong reminder that control is an illusion.


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