Have you guessed the topic of today’s post? That’s right – it is earthquakes and my absolute fear of them. I thought it would be a timely topic considering the cluster of recent earthquakes that have been rattling my nerves.
Seriously, I think I’ve been suffering from PTSD – post traumatic stress syndrome – since my first shaky experience in 1971. I was a girl of eleven then – when my mother moved our family to North Hollywood, California from Plano, Texas where I had become accustomed to the small tornadoes that would occasionally roll through our little town – we always knew what to do when the skies turned grey and the birds stopped chirping. We never felt helpless to avoid catastrophe. My sisters and I considered “tornado weather” just another opportunity for adventure.
But earthquakes? Now that is a different matter altogether.
You never know when one is coming – there is no obvious tell in the weather to even hint that an earthquake is about to strike. They come with complete surprise, swift and fierce – a sneak attach by mother nature.
I remember my introduction – February 9, 1971 – early morning – my sisters and I awoke to the antics of our kitten as it raced around the room we shared in a second story apartment. The cat’s rampage was bizarre but I was half asleep and wrote it off to “crazy cat stuff” placing my head back on the pillow. Seconds later I lay on the living room floor, catapulted from my top-bunk by an invisible, unimaginable force. The air sounded with a deafening rumble mingled with pops and crackles. From the corner of one eye I caught the violent motion of fish tank waters, from the other – the shattering of an heirloom vase as it jumped from the top of a china cabinet.
I scrambled to my feet, balancing on toes – fighting to reach my mother’s room. I found her in hysterics standing a top her bed naked and screaming.
I turned tail and left – partly due to “naked mother shock”, but also recognizing she was beyond being of any help to me. I returned to find my sisters.
Once the apartment finally stopped moving, and my mother found her clothes, we made our way to a Denny’s Restaurant. There we sat for hours waiting for the after shocks to subside, at least enough to allow my mother to think it safe enough to return to our apartment – I was hoping more for returning to Texas, preferring the occasional roof skimming tornado to that brain jarring earthquake.
Since that day the possibility of another earthquake is never far from my thoughts. I wouldn’t call myself obsessive, unlike my sisters who have alerts set to ping their phones when seismic activity occurs. I do always have an escape plan, a “duck for cover” plan and emergency supplies accessible in my car and at home. I have every hanging picture pinched on hook and stuck to the walls – I’ve fixed fragile collectables to shelves and secured every cabinet with latches. I keep shoes and keys by the door, purse handy and know exactly what to grab should I have to escape in a hurry – and I rarely sleep naked.
So, maybe I am a little obsessed.
Until tomorrow, Write On!
~ K. L. Parry