Where were you when...?

Saturday morning. It was very early in the morning, although I'm not sure of the exact time. I know it was crack of dawn type early because I had gotten up to see my husband, Hudson, off to work. Hud was working on a job in Simi Valley, just north of LA, so he was up and away by about 3:30am, to the best of my recollection. I'm not sure why I didn't go back to sleep, but I think it was because I had the day off or something. Anyway, my cat, Dave, and I were goofing off upstairs in the living room when I, simultaneously, heard and felt it. The initial rough jolt was followed very quickly by a rolling sensation which, if you've never experienced it is impossible to describe, and I could hear the wine glasses suspended above the bar clanging together. It took me about 10 seconds to realize that it was an earthquake, a very strong earthquake, and that I should be under something. I grabbed Dave and jumped under the dining room table because there are no open doorways upstairs. The rolling subsided after about 30 seconds, but I could still feel it. I walked unsteadily to the phone so that I could call Hud, only to find it ringing as I reached for it. It was Hud, turned around and on his way back home. He told me to call his parents in Arcadia (in LA) and my parents in Anaheim (southeast of LA) and to stay under the table with the radio on and the cat leashed up with me, which I did. Neither parents' phone went through, and I got this truly horrible message telling me that "all circuits are busy" and to "try again later". By the time Hud got home, I was starting to panic. KNX news radio (LA station) was broadcasting that freeways had collapsed, buildings were on fire, and there were buildings collapsing all over the city...and I couldn't talk to my mom to make sure she and Daddy were OK. Once I'd taken a quick shower, we were off in Hud's truck (in case we had to go off road or navigate collapsed highways), first to his folks, then to mine. We spent the rest of the day driving around LA and Orange County. No one that we knew was hurt, but the scenes of devastation were beyond my comprehension. We'd be driving along on the freeway when, all of a sudden, the ground had just lifted an overpass up by a foot and we'd have to slow to a stop and push forward very slowly. It was a spooky, eerie kind of day.

I can't believe it's been ten years since Northridge. In some sense, it feels a lifetime ago because so much has changed. Hud and I have been divorced for over five years now, and that, in and of itself, is enough to send me reeling at the effect time has on our lives. If you had told me in 1994 that, ten years on, I'd be divorced and engaged again, I'd never have believed you. We were practically newlyweds then, married for less than two years, still happily unaware of what lay ahead of us. So much about LA has changed, too. They retrofitted all of the freeway overpasses in California to allow for the side to side motion that caused the collapse of several freeway interchanges, so that shouldn't happen again. In the true spirit of Los Angeles, there are nearly no signs of what happened early on January 17, 1994 because the city is so good at regenerating, repairing, and moving on. I guess, in a lot of ways, I'm like the area I grew up in. The scars from my past are not visible to the untrained eye and, just like LA, I've moved on. The pain of growing up and moving on from my first love has subsided and has, only just recently, been supplanted by the joy of experiencing a new love, and, while I still worry about the ground moving under my feet, I understand now that sometimes life needs shaking up in order to grow.


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