The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

6.6, or On the Surface: A Prairie Boy in an Earthquake.

by Steve Gajadhar

7:00am Sunday, October 15, 2006.
I’m awake and thinking about getting my ass out of bed, brewing the coffee, and settling in to watch the NFL. Maybe my Saints will be on TV? Only a few things to do today: some work, start my blog so that I’m not jamming it out Tuesday night, and finish the day off by joining up with some friends to hit a new snorkel spot.

Still thinking about getting up. Decide to cuddle instead.

It starts out small. We’re used to small ones on the Big Island. The volcanoes burp a lot, little 2 and 3s on the Richter scale, nothing to worry about.

Still going. The house is starting to shake. The bed is starting to shake. I’m starting to shake. And it’s loud. Like the earth is growling. But it has to end soon, doesn’t it? My wife says, “Holy shit.”

Holy shit. I am aware of nothing but motion now. All other senses have shut down. It feels like we are on the back of something that no longer wants us there. We should get outside, or under a door, anywhere but on the bed, awaiting the arrival of the second floor on our laps. The TV is walking toward us. Something like glass crashes in the living room; must be the windows, or the dishes. And the growling. Maybe it is the end of the world?

But it ends. Shock has frozen us. We slowly take up refuge under the door, waiting for the aftershock, the back end of the wave. It hits at 7:10am, a 5.5: another earthquake instead of the aftershock. We ride this one out before stumbling into the living room, outside into the backyard. Most of the neighbours are there already, and our little cul-de-sac steels itself against further fury. I wander around the house, looking for cracks, or shifted columns, any visible tilt. Sirens in the distance signal it’s over.

We were lucky, only a couple broken dishes and frayed nerves. My wife had to go up to the mountain to assess the condition of the Canada France Hawaii Telescope. I spent the rest of the day alternating between weeding and catching radio updates in the car—staying outside, because the house didn’t feel like shelter anymore. The power was back on by 3pm. People back to work on Monday. We humans are a resilient lot. Like Fleas.


Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Glad you guys are okay, Steve.

Wed Oct 18, 10:11:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

You made me feel as though I was there with you Steve. Thanks for sharing that terrifying moment.

Wed Oct 18, 11:58:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger craig said...

oh my Lord - I was gripping my desk as I read your post, Stephen. So glad you are okay.

I couldn't imagine it - what the hell is a prairie boy to do? I don't recall a single tremor all the years I lived in Sask.

take care

Wed Oct 18, 12:35:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

This is just great, Steve. Thanks for bringing us into the experience. Fleas, indeed. Eventually the earth will shake the parasitic lot of us off for good.

So glad you weren't hurt.

Wed Oct 18, 01:03:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

Thanks for the well wishes, gang. Right now I miss the "solid" ground of good ole Sask. Better go to the beach today...

Wed Oct 18, 04:38:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger tamara said...

Steve, happy to hear you're stirred but not (too) shaken. Thanks for the play-by-play. Far more exciting than a football game!

Thu Oct 19, 01:18:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Patricia said...

holly mother of god....thanks Steve, totally...god...terrifying, and wow, your house does not feel like shelter, I can so see how you would feel that, glad you're all doing fine...xoxo

Sat Oct 21, 12:41:00 pm GMT-4  
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Tue Oct 24, 01:14:00 am GMT-4  

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