Dear earthquakes… it’s over. Bye.

May 3, 1974: Actors dodging rubble during filming of motion picture

(LA Times)

Certain aspects of your personality don’t mesh with certain aspects of my personality. I’m afraid I’m choosing to die in another form of natural disaster.
It's all a matter of where you stand.

It’s all a matter of where you stand.

A couple of days ago my Facebook feed was filled with several posts about an article in the New Yorker about a massive earthquake that’s due to strike the Pacific Northwest. The author says that it won’t be the Big One; it will be THE VERY BIG ONE.

Normally, I’d jump all over phrasing like that. Not today. Not for you, earthquakes.

The author goes to great, well-written lengths to explain the mechanisms behind such a Very Big One and how it will turn everything west of Interstate 5 into the infrastructural equivalent of a rotting cantaloupe filled with dead bodies instead of seeds.

But I didn’t need an education. I was already quite aware of the phrase “Cascadian Subduction Zone.”

And “liquefaction.”

And “ghost forest.”

And “inundation zone.”

I have been fascinated with disasters since I was a child –so much so that our neighbors gave me a coffee-table book called The World’s Greatest Disasters when I nine. I read and reread the book so many times that the book’s British origins helped fuel a lifelong Anglophilia in me. After all, what kid can resist reading that the debris following the Christmas Cyclone of 1974 in Darwin, Australia was “scattered higgledypiggledy?”

When my mom dabbled in Community College when I was eleven or twelve, she would take me to the library when she studied. I was expected to amuse myself with the various AV materials available, and I found myself repeatedly watching one called San Francisco: The City That Waits to Die. In it, men in white lab coats placed a small toy house with a flag attached to it on a mass of wet sand, and then they shook the shake table. Every time I re-watched the film, the tiny house plunged downward until only the top of the flag could be seen. Our house at the time was on sandy soil and in imminent danger of liquefaction despite its location in Virginia Beach.

And to this day, if I wake up in a weird position on the bed, covered with pillows, I just lie there still, pretending what it’s like being covered in debris. Continue reading