A lot of my friends and colleagues on the East Coast don't feel that way. Today's 5.9 shaker centered on Richmond, Virginia, scared the crap put of people I know all up and down the eastern states. I was in a training session for The Shelter Pet Project's new content management system when I started hearing from folks in DC, Boston and New York that they'd been evacuated from their buildings because of the earthquake. We had to cancel the training because the folks running it were in DC, and they lost Internet and phones.
Now, this was a relatively small quake, but it struck areas that are not only not used to earthquakes, but where the buildings codes aren't earthquake-tough. And the whole thing got me thinking about the biggest, most destructive quake I've ever lived through, 1989's Loma Prieta earthquake.
I was at Candlestick Park at the San Francisco Giants-Oakland As "Bay Bridge" World Series when it hit. People with radios at the park kept saying things like, "The Bay Bridge collapsed! The Marina is on fire!" and I kept saying, "Typical media exaggeration, blah blah blah."
And then the hours went by, and they called the game off, and we started driving across a city with no streetlights or traffic signals, broken glass and fallen buildings everywhere, and the radio reporting deaths and massive destruction... I realized I'd been engaged in a little thing called "denial."
I got home, made sure my gas was off and my cats were safe, then headed for my mom's. My brother, Jim, and his then-fiance, now wife, Julie, lived in the Marina; their apartment was one of the ones that collapsed. They made their way on foot to our mom's house, and my other brother, McKenzie, arrived a few hours later from where he'd been in Southern California.
We all huddled together for a couple of days, and then our lives got somewhat back to normal. Jim and Julie stayed at my mom's, McKenzie went back to Southern California, and I went back to work and my cats.
Jim and Julie's wedding was scheduled for a few weeks later. The night of Julie's bachelorette party, my mom called me at work and told me the church had failed its inspection and been condemned. They were frantically looking for a new church, but so far, no luck. And Julie, who was already at her party, didn't know. Did I want to tell her when I got there?
I, being a coward, called and asked the restaurant to tell her I'd been held up at work, and didn't go. Since she and Jim'd had their apartment fall apart around their ears and lost pretty much everything, I felt that the news should be delivered by someone -- anyone -- else.
And it was. Now, I admit I wasn't there, but this is the story my brother told my mom at the time. When Julie got back to home late that night, he was sitting up waiting for her. "Jule..." he said. "It's going to be alright, but..."
She saw the look on his face and held up her hand. "No. Don't tell me. I don't want to hear it."
The good news is they found a church after all. We called as many of the guests as we could, and on the day of the ceremony, one of our cousins went and stood on the steps of the old church with a map to the new one. It was a beautiful wedding, a great reception, and really, now that I think of it: We lived happily ever after!