It was a lazy day that day. Joseph, the younger brother of my girlfriend at the time was sick with the flu, so I had decided to stay home with him that day because their mother needed to go to work. Lazily, I lay stretched out on the couch when, all of sudden……”BOOM!!!!”……followed closely by the windows rattling!
I immediately knew what it was and I jumped up to my feet. Running around the corner and down the hallway to the bedroom where Joseph was sleeping, I stopped dead in my tracks in the bedroom doorway and yelled, “JOSEPH, EARTHQUAKE, DOOR, NOW!!!!” He jumped up and joined me in the doorway. I’ll never forget that feeling, standing there, feeling the earth roll underneath my feet, wave after wave after wave.
What an amazing, scary, wonderful, bewildering, and fascinating sensation! The logical part of my brain knows that the earthquake didn’t last for long, but, when in the moment, not to mention even now, it felt like it just went on and on. Once the earth’s vibrations settled down, we both went out to the living room so we could watch the news.
Joe sat down on the floor and I went back to the couch, where I began to attempt making phone calls to let both of our mothers know that we were okay. A few minutes into my dialing, Joe interrupted me. In only the way a seven year old can, he attempted to recall all that he had learned in school about earthquakes and then said “What are those things called? You know, the after boom things?” I replied, “Yes, you mean aftershocks?” He said, “Yeah, those things. Well, my teacher told us that sometimes the aftershocks are even bigger than the first one. Is that right?” so, of course, I said “Sure, sometimes that’s right, but not all the time.” Then, he said, “Okay” and just walked away to his room.
Finally, I got through to his mom. All was well on both of our ends, so then I started attempting once again to get in touch with my mother. After a few minutes, Joseph came out of his room, exasperated, arms piled high with his survival kit, which included his blanket, his half full bag of candy left over from the last Halloween, multiple video games, and his video game console with the cord dragging behind him. He said to me, “Okay. I’ve got everything just in case. You just need to get the water.”
Not able to help myself, I laughed and laughed and laughed. Finally, I was able to stop laughing long enough to try dialing again. This time I was able to get through so I could check on my mom, as well as attempt to share my survival kit story.
The story couldn’t have come at a better time. My mom worked in the library at Western State Hospital. She was safe, but her library was in shambles and some of the old brick buildings had crumbled in areas, so a story to lighten the moment was just what the doctor prescribed.
After finishing a good laugh and letting her breathe for a moment, I got off the phone so I could call his mother back again to share the story. If there’s anything I could be thankful for in this situation, it is the fact that Joseph had actually been paying attention somewhat in his lessons about earthquakes and their “after booms” enough to know that some preparation is, indeed, necessary.
By Christina Brewer