Tuesday, October 30, 2007

There's Something in the Air

Tonight after dinner we got lazy and allowed the girls to stay up a little too late. Once I was finally rounding up the children to herd (can you call two a herd? Probably not. Hmm) them upstairs, Slipshod jumped off the couch saying, "Earthquake." I said, "I don't feel it." I could tell that it was happening - the house was clearly moving, based on the creaks coming from the walls. It kept going and Slipshod couldn't believe that I couldn't feel it. He watched me during the rest of it - the quake lasted for a while - and I never felt a thing. It registered 5.6 on the Richter scale. Not huge, but we got calls from lots of family members asking if we felt it, because they did.

It's been this way with almost every earthquake I have ever experienced. When I was growing up in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia, one summer Saturday I left the rest of the family in the back yard (we were all out there doing yard maintenance - seriously - one of our more Norman Rockwell moments, perhaps) and went inside to get myself a drink. The kitchen table was empty save for the glass I set upon it, into which I poured some lemonade. As I turned to replace the pitcher in the refrigerator, I heard a sound and when I looked back at the table, my glass of lemonade was jumping and dancing around. I went back outside and asked my mom if our house could be possessed. Turned out we'd had a 3.4 earthquake. I hadn't felt a thing, despite the house clearly moving.

I didn't even feel the 1989 quake, and I was in San Rafael at the time. I knew something was happening because everyone I was with (we were outside, walking to the dining hall on our college campus) reacted - one friend even said she felt like she almost fell over. Oh, and I also had an inkling what was happening because somebody across campus yelled, "EARTHQUAKE!"

When we got to the dining hall friends who had already been inside told me that everyone had dived under their tables when the quake hit. But I didn't feel it. I'm serious. What I noticed was the shivering sound in the air as all the tall, old eucalyptus trees we were walking under shook. And of course the ensuing shower of debris (leaves, shredded bark & fruit) from the trees confirmed that something was not quite right. But I didn't feel the earthquake.

I think I did feel some of the aftershocks, but probably only because I was sitting on furniture that moved when they hit.

There was another earthquake I remember happening when I worked at the college. My boss came running out of her office asking if I had felt it and I said, "oh, is that what that was? I didn't feel anything, but it sounded like they were moving very large furniture in the office above ours." Nobody else had heard the noises I had heard; but they had all felt the quake. Again, I felt nothing.

There was one a number of years back that I did feel. It happened at 7:30am on a Saturday and we didn't have kids yet, so of course Slipshod and I were in bed. I woke up because the bed was shaking. I couldn't figure out what was going on, then decided that Slipshod must be getting out of bed despite the fact that pre-kids he would never have gotten out of bed that early on a Saturday. Or on a weekday, for that matter. I turned to look, but he was snoozing, unmoving, next to me. I looked into the open closet and some hangers were swinging gaily back and forth and since I was not very awake I started to freak out a little because I couldn't figure out what was going on. I poked Slipshod, whimpering, and told him that the hangers were swinging. In his characteristic high-functioning half-awake state, which ensures that he will not remember a thing once he truly wakes up, he said, "oh, it's just an earthquake. Go back to sleep," which he rolled over and did himself. Ha ha ha!

This seems so weird to me. I should be able to feel the earth move under my feet, right? But I only feel quakes when I'm sitting or lying on furniture that's moving. If I'm actually in contact with the ground or the ground floor of a building, I don't feel a thing.

Once years ago, in an effort to explain this phenomenon to myself, I remembered the Medieval Theory of the Humors which I had learned about in Shakespeare class during college. I think I did this after that quake I felt a work. I knew that my element according to the Medieval Theory of the Humors was Air, and it turned out that my boss' element was Earth. I extrapolated that she could feel earthquakes because her element was Earth, and that it made sense that I heard rather than felt them, since my element was Air. Never mind that my extrapolation does absolutely nothing to explain why given that I think most people do feel earthquakes, people whose elements are Fire and Water should also feel earthquakes, though their elements wouldn't necessarily give reasons why they should feel them.

Well, that's it, really: My inability to feel earthquakes is such a curiosity to me that I had to tell you all about it, and my pet theory. Hee. Oh - the epicenter of tonight's earthquake was about 5 miles from our house in the South Bay so I talked with one of our renters (a longtime friend) and he said the place is fine. The earthquake woke him up and spilled a can of Sprite on the floor; that's about it for that house. But it must have felt quite a lot stronger there than it did here.

Let me leave you with something silly for Halloween: A picture of a friend and I the last year Slipshod and I really dressed for a Halloween party (I even made the dresses - we used to be so into that sort of thing). I'll even tell you a secret: This picture was taken mere hours before Sweet Pea was conceived. We're pretty sure it was the green wig that helped us finally conceive after 21 months of trying.

1 comment:

dlub said...

I missed an earthquake too! It was a small 3.5 quake. I was washing my face before bed, and Squonk hops up and asks "did you feel that?"

I guess I wash my face a little too vigorously or something. :) ha ha!

We saw where the epicenter was, and thought about your old place. Glad everything is OK!