First Earthquake

23 07 2015

When we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area a few months ago, all our non-Bay-Area friends talked about was the earthquakes. We laughed it off…. Yes, the earth moves and shifts all around us all the time and no, we are not overly concerned about this. Somehow a couple of million people seem to live here and go about their usual daily business like normal human beings all over the world.

I did take, shall we say, a new interest in this natural phenomenon, as any new resident would take an interest in something that is unique to the region to which she has recently moved. I installed a free app on my cell phone called, appropriately, “Earthquake Alert!” and I look at it at least once a day. As one does.

Then two nights ago at 2:40 am the earth literally shook under me, ripping me out of sleep. It was very freaky. It felt like someone had grabbed onto our solid wood headboard for dear life and was shaking it violently. There was little noise, just some creaking and the movement. I was wide awake in half an instant, sat upright, grabbed my cell phone and tapped on “Earthquake Alert!”. Turns out it was a 4.0 magnitude tremor on the Hayward Fault, and the epicenter was 7 miles / 11km  south of us. Nothing super-huge in the great big world order, but enough to unnerve me. I am, after all, a Yankee, and they don’t really have earthquakes on the East Coast.

First earthquake.

First earthquake.

My husband, about half a mile away in our king-sized bed, stirred a bit and I asked, “Did you feel that?”

“Mropohghllrr….unh-huh.”

“I think that was an earthquake.”

“Mmm-hmm…”

Next thing I hear him peacefully snoring away again.

Eyes wide open, adrenaline spiking at a moment I was supposed to be deep in my REM phase (and jealous of my husband who was able turn around and pretend it never happened), I lay there totally awake, wondering what would come next. Sirens? Evacuation orders? Gas main fires? People running into the streets? About a half hour after the first jolt there was another, weaker, shorter tremor, that, turns out, was a 2.7 aftershock. According to my smart app there were a few more, but they didn’t reach me.

I was still wide awake an hour later but it seemed the rest of the world, like my husband, had gone back to sleep. There was no panic, the coyotes went back to howling in the dark, our neighbor’s chimes continued to tinkle in the wind. Just everyone going about their usual business.

Then this afternoon someone at the US Geological Survey used the words “Hayward Fault”, “major quake” and “any day now” (or something similar) in the same sentence.

I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear that.

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