The night was black; there was no moon to guide us when we woke up to sound of the earth roaring, the feel of concrete slamming up then down.
Dogs barked and whimpered, car alarms bleated and died out. Then there was silence.
It’d been my first major earthquake.
We pawed our way through the dark hall over broken glass picture frames to find our children, our shoes, the doorway.
In the 1994 earthquake, I lost almost everything. We lived on the second floor of a nice apartment about a mile away from the Reseda Boulevard epicenter where (I believe) 23 people lost their lives.
Everyone in our building got out alive. But the building was destroyed, gas hissed into the alley and we had to flee.
I walked away from that disaster with my daughters. At the time, I didn’t care about all the material things.
All of the “stuff” we had seemed so worthless. And as we rebuilt, I didn’t replace all the junk we had. I didn’t have a mixer or a microwave. I didn’t fill the kitchen with “good plates” and every day plates. My cabinets remained near empty for many years. Slowly, they have been filled with occasionally used items nestled next to the well used necessities. I have things I don’t need. Pretties collected that I’d resisted for so long fill small places here and there.
And here we are again – on the brink of another disaster. And I say – I do not care about all of these things I have collected. I care about my family, my friends, students, neighbors.
My first year psych teacher said to me – before that 1994 Northridge earthquake – “The only real thing of value is meaningful human relationships.” I have always held that close.
We should dismiss our first world concerns of malls, cars, and money. We can put aside our overly independent natures and our me first attitudes. We can do what it takes to make certain that those we love, families and strangers, survive this.
We know what we need to do. We’ve done it before.
Hold on to those you love, even if they are far away right now. Nothing else matters.