EUREKA! Tremors…

Earthquake Memoirs

It’s an exciting time to be alive! Currently, I sit in Old Town Coffee and Chocolates, at the front by the door. I come here often for wifi; it is my favorite shop, with a relaxed atmosphere and warm vibe. The place has two great rooms with old brick walls, wood floors and big square panes of glass filling the window front. As I write, people who have just arrived are asking whether it’s safe to sit here. That is because the PANES TAKEN during the earthquake are still missing, and being replaced right now by a local glass man! As you will see, in Eureka, we are still shifting a bit since the big shake!
What we experienced on January 9, 2010 at four twenty seven PM was nothing less than groundbreaking, earthshattering madness! I had an inkling at the time, but when I heard 6.5 it boggled my mind! The quake was 25 miles beneath the ocean floor, just off our coast. Although it only lasted 30 seconds, the quick quiver has had far reaching consequences (see Tremors II…).
Saturday morning: I turn off my alarm at quarter to eight and snooze at ten til. I am sleeping in, and through two phone calls from a laundry date. An hour or so later I roll over fo’ real. So does Mike, who needs a shuttle to the Trail. We throw clothes hampers and cycles in the car and head to town with Kallie.
After tuning bikes, I run a shuttle up Fickle Hill for three bike boys. Then cruise the van down country roads and pop into the Coffee Break drive-thru for scone and a smile! Continuing to Jacoby Creek, I read in the cool, wet redwood/fern forest. Before long three dirt-splattered devils come speeding by with doggie close behind. Mike and Kallie have matching mud freckles! Everyone gets dropped off to unwind and I am headed to the laundromat on 7th and E.

It takes awhile for five loads of laundry on a busy day, but I take it in stride, absorbed with searching for quarters (exactly enough!), throwing clothes willy nilly, specially handling sleeping bags, and car cleaning in the meantime. There are five minutes left on my last load. I walk inside to the wall of dryers, and while standing over my hamper (meditating on dryness) THE WHOLE PLACE SHAKES!

It had been a totally normal and wonderful morning until that moment; then it got exciting! The shock of EVERYTHING moving at ONCE makes me think I am suddenly dreaming. When standing on solid ground, one does not expect their balance to be challenged by LAND! I can\’t make sense of it – dreaming? The laundromat feels like a sloop at sea!

The structure jerks wildly back and forth, from floor to ceiling. It is hard to aptly describe, because in an instant: all things coincide. I am astonished. In quick succession a second and third jolt follow, extinguishing electricity in a loud buzz as lights fail, washers stop swishing, and clothes dryers drop dead. The hum of what was, now lies quiet. But the rock of rolling continues. Transformation complete, we be afloat on the sea!
Someone says, “Go!” and we all start for the exit. Things are still swinging and a piece of the front window breaks out  as we pass (adds drama). As we duck and file out the door, I hear myself utter, “Is this an earthquake?” Someone answers, \”yes,\”  and although I already know, confirmation gets the message through. If this were one of those ridiculous disaster movies, we were in perfect form! I am beginning to understand why those flicks are characterized by a lack of logic. Our acting was unbelievable, because we ourselves were unbelieving!
Even standing in the parking lot, we are incredulous because you could feel fluid earth still swinging underneath you – a soft shifting. Previous earthquakes that I have experienced were just a quick jerk: the couch I am sitting on shutters back and forth as if a car hit the building and it\’s over in a fraction of a second. This earthquake’s shakes, however, stay as rolling waves, leaving us with the feeling of floating.
We just stand there for a full thirty seconds, huddled in the lot and looking around as movement fades, like ripples over water. When it feels fairly solid, I jet to the van and try Bro, but the cell towers are on overload. So I dart into the laundromat, grab clothes from the flattened dryer, throw them in the hamper and drive home to find him. My heart is pumping pure adrenaline.
When I get home, everyone and the dogs are fine, but still running around in shock and amazement. I join the party, checking everything out to see what’s going on. No one had electric; people were on the streets to check their houses before dark. We are scrambling in chaos for awhile: looking for lights, keys and phones – in such confusion from a house that is upside down and torn over! Everything fell off it’s shelf and one of our bookcases actually did a face plant in the center of the bedroom. Some of my pottery died in the fall, but the best ones survived.
Anyway, we leave that be – it isn’t a priority. Instead, taking an hour to put our hands on headlamps, and then in order to find important things like keys. I had both our sets at the laundromat. I thought I gave them back… but I wasn\’t really thinking. I was sure I had them…  but where? Or …I can\’t remember. There is a huge blank about the moments during and immediately after the earthquake – so we search. And just as I was about to drive back to the mat, Bro finds them in his hamper. SHEW!
It wasn’t until several hours later that we put together how those keys got away. I had just walked in to the mat from our van. I was investigating a pair of pants; meditating on dryness – when the tremor came. As it shook, we all dropped everything and evacuated. Luckily, \”everything\” fell straight into the basket below, so when I hastily grabbed the hamper to go, I had the keys for Bro.
Once found, we drove around town to see what was going on. There was no way of hearing anything, but getting through on the phones was becoming better, so dad hopped online to tell us what was going on. All good. So we met up with a friend for \”Mission: Beer\”. We headed to a part of Eureka  that we heard still had electric, and sure enough found Safeway (packed to the brim). There were abandoned carts and sticky floors inside and two of the five front windows were broken. When we made it through long lines and back to the parking lot, there was a woman standing there, just leaning on her car,  starring in awe. As she looks on, the lady asks, “What’s it like in there?” with wonder. The glazed look in her eyes was sublime. We chuckled, “You’ll be fine.”

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