I bet you were all wondering what would bring me back here. So was I, frankly. It’s been a rather busy few months of kids home for summer, a dead-for-the-third-time’s-a-charm computer, school starting, and K coming home on leave, and me trying to nail down regular work. Turns out what it really takes for me to sit down and write again is an earthquake. You heard me right. Earthquake. Nothing major, mind you, and I’m sure my friends on the left coast are laughing behind their hands at the lack of magnitude it takes for my heart to pound and my mind to race, but that’s ok. I laugh at the thought of them driving around during a snow storm…or as I like to call it, a light dusting. I have only ever lived on the east coast and I’m no stranger to hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms, nor’easters, drought (and not just the writing kind), hail, and floods. Not to mention, black flies, mosquitoes, and jellyfish. Mother Nature and I come in to contact fairly often in these parts and I have a healthy respect for the power she wields. She never mentioned the possibility of earthquakes though. Mighty tricky of you, Mother Nature, mighty tricky!
Saturday night, just before 11:30pm, I was laying in bed reading and starting to doze off. All of a sudden I heard a loud boom/crash/extended thud and then the house shook for a couple of seconds. At first I thought I was more asleep than I imagined and perhaps I was about to have a blockbuster movie dream. No such luck. My next thought was that the basement blew up again (yes, I said “again.”), but quickly pushed that aside when I realized that the smoke alarms didn’t go off. Then I thought some idiot finally took the corner in front of our house too fast and hit the gigantic pine tree outside Monkey’s room and hoped that the tree wouldn’t break and crush my house (or my Monkey!) or the animal shelter across the street. There was no other sound though after that initial boom, so it couldn’t be that. Maybe something nearby had exploded in an enormous fireball…All of these thoughts were zipping around in my head at supersonic speeds while I tried to assess my next action which all centered around “Holy crap I might have to get 2 sleeping kids and 2 dogs out of here ASAP.”
Pants went on quickly, and the ridiculously calm dogs (who were my first clue that all was more well than my pounding heart and flight ready brain were able to process) looked at me askance while I shut them in my room to go investigate on my own. Nothing smelled funny, no sirens in the distance, and the kids were both still asleep. I went downstairs and made sure the basement door wasn’t hot and that the barn was still attached and the shop in the side yard was also still in its usual dilapidated state. Everything was right were it should be—unchanged. I suspect even the pantry mouse was undisturbed. Back upstairs I go, to waiting dogs who I’m pretty sure think I’m off my rocker at this point, but are nice enough to not say so out loud. I collar them up and outside we go to investigate the property and look around the neighborhood for signs of the obvious coming apocalypse. Casey and Zoe, amazed at their luck in getting to go out after 9:30pm, immediately go running off to sniff out the wild animal nightlife and I stand at the bottom of my driveway wondering what the hell was going on because nothing seemed to be going on. Surely if there was a rift in the space time continuum (which was the only other option left as far as I could tell), I would be seeing aliens or a passel of long-forgotten farmers making their way back home in a horse and buggy parade. Nope. Nothing. All was quiet on the Great White Northern Front.
I called the dogs back in and we returned to bed. I think my heart finally began to slow to it’s normal pace and the adrenalin rush unlike anything I’ve felt since riding the Mt. Everest roller-coaster at Disney (it goes backwards!) started to dissipate as well. Of course the first thing I did after settling in was get online. I saw my neighbor across the street was also online (Phew!) and she and I instant messaged briefly about the excitement of the night (let me tell you, we do not generally live in an exciting part of town at all), and thanks to Twitter (yup, Twitter) we quickly found out that we were hit with a 3.2 earthquake less than 10 miles from our neighborhood.
For as much upheaval as that tiny earthquake caused in my internal organs, I was actually glad it was that rather than all my other options (especially the Doctor Who-esque scenario). There were far more chances for death and destruction coming out of my brain than what was happening in reality and I could not have felt more relief at that realization. Aside from the novelty of having experienced something that was neither on my bucket list or any other list of mine for that matter, it made me realize that I need to remember to keep a calm head when crazy shit happens (i.e. pay attention to the dogs who were calm the whole time). I am not 100% prepared for a disaster—natural or man-made—but I could be with little effort. I know where all the things I would need are: first aid kit, water, and food (thanks Army for your oh-so-tasty MREs!). I know, though, that our generator is lacking fuel, and I don’t have any wood yet for the fireplace if it were necessary to be stuck at home without electricity or heat. I have a camping stove and fuel for that, and we have blankets and sleeping bags. I don’t have anything that’s particularly grab-n-go, and it’s probably a good idea to consolidate. Soon. You know, just in case.
I don’t plan on this little shake up making me paranoid about the possibility of future disasters since they are not the norm (and I really prefer the whole “level head” thing to “crazed loony” thing), nor do I plan on making next summer a family Outward Bound extravaganza, but it sure has made me think twice about what I would do if something truly serious happened. As long as K is attached to the Army, and given that the National Guard is called out for any type of local (and some not-so-local as it turns out) disasters, the kids and dogs and I are pretty much on our own during tough times. It does not hurt to believe that all those years I spent hanging out with Boy Scouts (my dad was a Troop Leader and my brother a Scout) showed me preparedness. Even more important, just being a single-parent forces you to manage a degree of planning and logistics I don’t believe can be taught in college. But here I was left at loose ends even for such a short time over something that in reality was small but could have been bad, bad, bad. Thankfully this is not a cautionary tale that will wind up being checked on Snopes because of its unbelievable circumstances, nor will I end up a recipient of the Darwin Award (at least not this week!). However it is a good reminder to tend to basic needs and always have a plan…which I am working on before Winter comes with all its frozen goodness.
In other news, as I mentioned K was home on leave for a couple of weeks earlier this month and a grand time was had by all. He’s back in Afghanistan counting the days until the deployment is over. The kids did really well with the transition (ah, my little adaptable beings!) and they, too, are looking forward to Daddy being home for hours of hikes, faux camping, sparring practice, and Lego building.
I won’t make promises that I’ll be writing regularly again. Those seem to bite me in the ass. So you’ll see me when you see me and thanks for sticking around and caring what I have to say.