Sunday, August 31, 2014

You shook me up

I’m a California native, so I thought I’d be used to earthquakes by now. Nope. Never going to get used to being tossed around in bed in the middle of the night, books flying, glass shattering and dressers bouncing against the walls.
This Sunday’s earthquake was like some psycho wine country version of “Poltergeist.” Mother Nature grabbed hold of us that morning, shook us around like she was really pissed off and then walked away with her middle finger in the air.
I like to think I’m cool in a crisis, but when that quake hit I was screaming like a teenager. So were the girls. By the time I’d gotten to them in the hallway, it was over and all we could do was just clutch at each other.
Put shoes on, yelled my husband.
Shoes, right.
What are those again? My brain was not exactly working at that point.
Back next to the bed, I searched for shoes but a 2-foot pile of books covered them.
College Girl had spent the night at a friend’s house, so the first thing we did was try to call her. Amazingly, the phones worked. She was fine, physically.
Stay put, we told her. I had visions of a traumatized kid trying to drive on buckled roadways around fires and fallen branches.
In the hallway, the girls grabbed a small battery powered emergency light that had been plugged into a wall socket since after the 2000 earthquake. The week before, I’d thought of throwing it away because it’s old and has a pretty feeble light. Sunday morning that little light never looked so good.
Downstairs almost every step cracked as we walked over broken glass. The fish tank broke, said my husband. There was tank gravel and water everywhere. Balsamic vinegar had shattered all over the kitchen floor, mixing with spilled sugar. Actually, I think the sugar conveniently soaked up some of the vinegar.
Think you need to do some spring cleaning of your cabinets? Don’t waste your time. Just wait for an earthquake.
Like a lot of other Napans, we lost most of our dishes. Wine glasses fell into drawers that had been flung open, leaving glass shards inside them. Ceramic pots stored on the top shelves had broken into bits on the floor. I picked up one lid, still intact, to put it away for safekeeping.
Don’t bother, said my husband. The bowl broke.
Making my way to the front door, I peeked outside to see neighbors walking outside with flashlights.
You OK? they called out.
Yep, I answered feebly. I felt like barfing.
The rest of the downstairs was more of the same. Contents of every shelf facing east/west were dumped. Most north/south shelves had held firm.
I braced myself as I opened College Girl’s room, already filled to the brim with the contents of her school apartment.
Looks just like normal in there, I said with a laugh.
A firefighter neighbor came over to turn off the gas and check out our hot water heater. As it slowly started getting lighter outside the sound of broken glass falling into trashcans could be heard. The cleanup had begun.

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