Almost three hours ago, I and several million of my now closest friends, experienced a 5.8 magnitude earthquake. And you know what? I didn't like it at all. I was in a parking lot in Washington, DC, about to head home. I'd put the key in the ignition and was set to pull off when a sudden, and violent shuddering began. Now, as the owner of a late-model Jeep in severe need of strut work, I had confused the earth's trembling with the last gasps of my car.
The shaking soon stopped and I headed home, and as I sped down the highway, I heard my Blackberry chime as new text messages were being delivered. I thought nothing of it, and kept on towards home, but with a short stop at the Panera. And that's when I saw a sight that was a bit confusing - hundreds of workers gathered on the sidewalks outside of the office building that sits adjacent to the Panera. I thought maybe there'd been a bomb threat - these things happen sometimes - and all I could think was, "damn! I hope I can get my Greek salad before the whole plaza's evacuated". And that's when I thought, maybe, it'd be a good idea to look at those text messages, and whatdayouknow?? My husband had texted me about the earthquake. Now, I knew I wasn't getting my Greek salad!!
The next few minutes were an exercise in frustration. Frustration that I couldn't make a call or send a text message from my Verizon Blackberry to my husband and family. Frustration that now my husband, loyal AT&T customer that he is, will have permanent bragging rights. Frustration that I wasn't going to get my lunch! But hey, there at least is one bright spot and it's this: I was able to send and receive messages with my mobile Facebook and Twitter applications. Woo-hoo!
This was my very first earthquake, and while the sensation of being tossed around on land was foreign to me, sadly, this combo-pack feeling of vulnerability/fear/confusion is very familiar. This is the post-9/11 world, after all. On that September day, as rumors of attacks, fatalities, blackouts and curfews flowed, and as public officials and news media struggled to tell the public what to do, thousands decided to forgo the waiting and head home, clogging Metro platforms and the streets and highways around Washington, DC. Today's been no different and while I type this, images of a jammed 395, 495, and 95 are playing on the local newscast. I guess Dorothy was right - there's no place like home!
And that's where I am now - home. Safe, right now, and attempting to comfort my freaked-out house cat without resorting to a Valium. Tonight, I'll turn off the news (and they're frequent references to Haiti and Christ Church, New Zealand), and drink a glass of wine with my husband with a new-found respect for my West Coast brothers and sisters. And, maybe I'll sit down with a good book, or, better yet, my homeowner's insurance policy! I'm just saying:)