earthquake fall-out / by vanessa

I'm going to be honest here. When the earthquake hit last week, I was scared. Five of us were in a co-worker's office which is on the fourth floor of a building in Studio City-ish. We were on a conference call with NY. In the middle of a discussion about our next software release, the building shook, or rolled, rather. "We're having an earthquake!!" I squeaked. NY kept talking. I gathered myself, thought of rooting down (seriously, I'm such a yoga geek), and said it firmer, and louder: "WE'RE. HAVING. AN. EARTHQUAKE." Three ran for the doorframe, the guy whose office we were in was already at his desk, and I stood there, alone, in the middle of the room.

When the building continued to shake for 15-but-what-seemed-like-30 seconds, my first thought was, "I could die." And then I got depressed.

I know it wasn't a big one. I know it didn't do any real damage -- my apartment was fine -- but it, ummm, shook me. (Thanks Kate Hutton, seismologist at the California Institute of Technology, for pointing out that this one was a "small sample" of what's to come, and to "be prepared at any time because it could happen at any time." I bet you voted for Bush.)

Four days later and I've calmed down. I still feel a little foolish for freaking out, but fortunately the earthquake unearthed (sorry - I loves me a pun) emotions, fears, and even clarity that I didn't know I had. Relationships I've broken from came rushing to the forefront, questions of what-am-I-doing-with-my-life followed behind, and all because in that moment I thought about death.

Recently, my boss asked me what my fears are. Social situations, I responded. I said this to a man who had just admitted that the only thing he's afraid of is his own death for his family's sake. I always pictured him the sort that could be faced with a gun to his head and still calmly convince the assailant to "put something on my calendar for next week."

I never think about death, I told him. Until last Wednesday, of course. And while I no longer worry about walls dropping around me, here I am wondering about the earth beneath me.