What is Happening?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

My boat strikes something deep.
At first sounds of silence, waves.
Nothing has happened;
Or perhaps everything has happened
And I am sitting in my new life.

– Rumi

In my reading this week I came upon this little quote by Rumi and was visited again by something not so little that happened to me over twenty years ago.  It was October and my husband and I had just arrived in San Francisco following a Napa wine trip; it was our first time in the city by the bay and we were eager to explore.  After parking our rental car in an electrically powered garage and checking in at our inn on Union Street, we immediately headed down to the Marina district late on this Tuesday afternoon.  Animal lovers that we are, the first thing we did was go to the pier to look at the seals sleeping on the docks.  As we stood there we thought it peculiar that the seals began sitting up one by one and looking up at the sky; and then suddenly it felt like a big wave hit the dock and water lapped up onto our shoes.   At first we were nonplussed, but then the French tourists in front of us, who had known no English when we had spoken to them a few moments before,  began running and shouting “Fucking earthquake!  Fucking earthquake!”  We were stunned.  It felt  like only  a few seconds had gone by and nothing around us seemed to be changed; we had not even been knocked off balance.  Truly, what was all the fuss about?

So, here’s what really happened:

  • The property damage price tag for the quake was over $5.9 Billion.
    An estimated 3,757 people were injured and there were 67 reported fatalities.
  • The Goodyear blimp, present for the World Series game, was pressed into service providing aerial shots of the damage.
  • The earthquake is sometimes referred to as the World Series quake, and the interrupted third game of the series was postponed for 10 days.
  • The actual quake was broadcast on a live television feed.
  • This earthquake lasted 15 seconds at a magnitude of 6.9.
  • Although most of the damage occurred in San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Cruz, damage was reported in many other locations in the region, including: Hayward, San Mateo,Monterey and Boulder Creek.
  • Over 18,300 homes and 2,575 businesses were reported damaged.
  • The quake left an estimated 12,000 people homeless.
  • Santa Cruz County’s Forest of Nisene Marks State Park was the epicenter of the quake.

While this was called “The San Francisco Earthquake” by the media, the Santa Cruz area also sustained much damage and required a great deal of volunteer manpower to recover.

As for me and my husband, we were stranded without food or hot water for several days, our car was in the electrically powered garage and there was no power to open the door, the airport was closed,  and the owners of our inn flew the coop.  But we eventually got out and flew home safely.  We had lost nothing but the minute bit of innocence we had left at our age.

Sometimes in our lives the unexpected happens, things startle us and we are shaken to our core.  We may go to great lengths to recover and some of us never do.  Then there are times when monumental things happen and they just do not register; we feel puzzled but strangely calm.  An example here may be the death of an elderly parent who has been sick for a long time;  it comes as no surprise and is partly a relief so it does not register as the monumental event that it actually is.   But then one day, or on many days, we wake up to the shock of what really happened and we realize we are sitting right smack in the middle of our new lives.


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