Saturday, October 17, 2009

the bay that day

the 20th (!) anniversary of The Earthquake (yes, it deserves capitalization) is upon us. the chron is full of reflections on "where were you when..." and my own circle of friends have had many a discussion of that fateful day.

i was in the 5th grade, and my sister, mother and i had just returned from shopping for halloween costumes. strangely, i don't recall what i was that year, only that i begged my mother to be a punk rocker, complete with a multicolor spiky wig. i wanted that wig SO BADLY. i don't know if it was my mother's conservative nature that balked at her daughter! wanting! to be! a punk! or something else, but i am now 30 years old and have not dressed up as a punk. (foot stomp.)

it was pretty hot for october, although the bay area always seems to have a hot spell in october, and we were still in summer clothes. we returned home and i set about doing my math homework (a thin, purple volume of problems, both literally and figuratively) downstairs on the coffee table. my sister was upstairs, likely playing with her barbies, and my mother was in the kitchen when the shaking began.

i (gladly) ditched the math homework for the a doorway leading to the backyard, while my mother ran for the doorway separating the kitchen and family room. as the shaking was still going on, my mother and i could hear my sister thundering down the stairs, yelling. poor thing was so frightened by the shaking, she didn't know what to do. earthquake drills are standard practice in california schools, but my sister, only in kindergarten for a matter of weeks, hadn't participated in one yet.

after the shaking subsided, my mother checked to make sure we were okay. we weren't able to reach my father, which was scary, but of course this was pre-cell phone days. the three of us went outside to talk to some neighbors and compare damage, of which there was some: my mother's china cabinet fell over, breaking some depression-era and world war II-era glass heirlooms. of course, we were without power and would be for about 24 hours. given that it was dinnertime and nothing could really be prepared, once my father arrived home he was immediately sent off to carl's jr. to wait in line for over an hour with seemingly all of our neighborhood. (why carl's jr. had power and no one else did i still don't know.)

we all feared aftershocks, and slept with our bedroom doors open. school was canceled the next day, and 20 years later i am still surprised my mother let me ride my bike alone to my friend jennie's house so that we could go to the park.

my father had tickets to the world series for us, although not for october 17. we opted not to go once the series was rescheduled, and i still regret it!

i've been in several earthquakes since then. one that occurred the eve of a 49er game. that idiot jimmy johnson claimed it wasn't an earthquake, it was just the cowboys coming to town.

my sister is still terrified of earthquakes. at the mere mention of the word, she pretty much freaks. although i don't think about them on a daily basis, unfortunately the threat of the next "big one" is always around. watching and reading coverage over the last few days has brought tears to my eyes a few times.

1 comment:

  1. When I was about 4yrs old we had a pretty decent-sized earthquake in Chile (I think Mom said it was a 7.something). I just barely remember it.

    It's scary to know we could have another bad earthquake anytime here in California, but I guess we just get to crosds our fingers... and enjoy the great weather while we can... ; )