Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I feel the earth move under my feet

Seeing as how I've blogged about probably all of the other items on Davy DCist's list, I can't not mention that minor issue of the EARTH QUAKING yesterday.

To be perfectly honest, I still don't really believe it. I saw the buildings sway, heard the rumble, felt the shaking, but still just can't quite wrap my head around it. Give me blizzards, suspicious packages, and hurricanes any day, no problem. But an earthquake? In D.C.? Don't be absurd.

Tuesday was such an amazingly beautiful day: Carolina blue skies, low heat, and a gorgeous breeze. So around 1:30 I decided to take a work break and pick up a few things at Gap, two and a half blocks from my office. On my way back to the office, about a block and a half away, I felt a rumbling that I assumed to be a big truck. Then, I noticed the buildings start to sway. And I just kept staring at them sway. While the buildings in Old Town are only two or three stories high, they are also quite old and, oh yeah, generally stationary.

I sometimes have a problem with vertigo, and once they started swaying, my head got all wishy washy and nothing really made sense after that. Thus I went to my go-to mode for any stressful or unknown situation: rationalization. "They aren't really moving. It's just a big truck. It's scaffold falling. It's construction work. Or a big truck." (I kept looking all around for this damn truck.) A man on the street even stopped and asked if it was an earthquake and I scoffed, said no, and kept walking. (I feel really, really bad about this, that I just said no and kept walking.)

After I dismissed the big truck, construction, and earthquake theories, I moved on to the most obvious one: bomb. But even then I couldn't even panic or stir up any real emotion, so I focused on walking as quickly as possible to my office, determined not to draw attention to myself in case it did turn out to be a dastardly big truck. It seemed to stop almost as soon as it started  and I probably only moved 10 feet while it was still going, but with my head all wobbly, who knows. All I wanted was to get to the office and be around people I knew. For some reason that was a big deal, to see people I knew so they could tell me what happened. Because for some reason I didn't trust the earth moving and all the strangers standing in the street staring up at the buildings.

I got to the office to find everyone gathered in the hall discussing what had happened, no one quite believing it. After a little while I realized I was shaking and didn't stop for about an hour. But it really was just...fine. I stayed late to avoid the metro mess and then spent about two hours on the train due to speed restrictions. A few picture frames in my apartment fell and a glass jar broke, but that was it. It still doesn't quite seem real, especially given the destruction we've seen in Japan, though that one was of course much stronger.

I'm very good at packing my emotions down, telling them to chill out, and then pulling them out at a more appropriate time. But as a result they don't always appear when I need them, or when it would be most prudent. (If you know me I'm sure you have gathered this if you've ever seen me start yelling and crying because I can't find a lost shoe. Hint: It's not really about the shoe. I've probably just unpacked some emotions from a weak prior.)  But maybe this is a good thing, maybe I'm much better in a crisis or a potential crisis than I assumed. And right now everything is just...fine. I'm not sure I'll be taking any work breaks to go to Gap anytime soon, but for now, it's just...fine.

That being said, I don't ever care to repeat it. Ever. When I say give me thundersnow or hurricanes, I mean it, those are at least predictable. And lest ye think I'm being cavalier, I know the destruction they can bring, I just like a little warning. And I really, really don't like when buildings sway.

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