Like the rest of the East Coast, we experienced an earthquake today. And not just a little tremble, but a 5.8 magnitude whammy, with the epicenter a mere 90 miles away in Mineral, Virginia. News reports say it was felt from Massachusetts to South Carolina, but a friend of mine in Canada e-mailed to make sure I was ok, and said that he felt it in Ontario, too.
I hate to even pretend like a 5.8 earthquake on the East Coast of the United States is a big deal after the recent widespread tragedies that have occurred in countries like Haiti and Japan. I can't even imagine. In fact, I can't even imagine living on the West Coast where these things are more common and more dangerous. But as my cousin from California pointed out, "A 5.8 in an area not used to earthquakes, including buildings not being retrofitted to handle the shaking, is nothing to sneeze at!" Oh, I didn't sneeze at it. In fact, I nearly peed my pants.
Not only that, here in the mid-Atlantic, Mother Nature usually takes it pretty easy on us. For the most part, we don't have to worry about hurricanes like in Florida and the Gulf, tornados and flooding like in the Midwest, forest fires, earthquakes, and tsunamis like on the West Coast, or blizzards like in the North. The worst we have here are heat waves and the occasional Snowmageddon. (Which some members of my family think is fun.) Acts of God aren't even on the worry radar over here - being in the nation's capital we're much more concerned with acts of terrorism.
The other weird thing about experiencing an earthquake, is that they happen out of the blue - literally. Today was perhaps the most beautiful day of the year in Northern Virginia. Perfect blue sky, sun shining, a gorgeous 80 degrees, and then BAM, my house feels like it's being torn apart.
Thoughts that went through my head as my windows rattled:
- The &#$*@!!! washing machine is off balance again!
- Wait a minute, I'm not doing laundry!
- Is this an...EARTHQUAKE?!
- Oh shit, is this a nuke? A bomb?
- The house is going to fall apart!
- Should I stay upstairs and risk falling to my death?
- Or should I go downstairs and risk getting crushed?
- I'M GOING TO DIE!
Fortunately, my wine was just fine. Whew! (Priorities, priorities!) Who would've guessed the wine rack was rated for seismic activity?
Afterwards, I still wasn't sure what happened. I couldn't reach anyone on the phone. I tried googling "DC earthquake" immediately afterwards, but nothing turned up. So I turned to the most valuable tool in an emergency...Facebook. Within seconds of it happening, nearly a dozen of my friends from New York to West Virginia had already posted "Earthquake!" Larry reached me via text message - he was unnerved after being in a swaying high-rise office building. Hours later, I finally reached my mother:
Me: Are you ok? Did you survive the earthquake?
Mom: Yes, I'm fine!
Me: Did anything break? Your china?
Mom: Nope, it all survived.
Me: Oh good, I just wanted to check up on you.
Mom: WHO IS THIS?
Well gee, Mom, only YOUR FIRSTBORN CHILD.
And because comic relief is always good in situations like these (and because I needed some rolling to go along with all the shaking and rattling!), this guy never fails to crack me up:
Rollin' from Funnelcloud Rachel on Vimeo.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some wine to drink...