La Habra, CA

IMG_3666Earthquakes are nothing new. Something experienced through the years. A shift here. A  jolt there. A rock. And a roll. Everywhere. But not often. They come and go. Spend years hibernating. Then one day, or another, they jerk. Wake up whatever location the epicenter is in and its surrounding areas. Put people on the alert. Scare them. Mix up their emotions.

FRIDAY, MARCH 28

When I felt the house move, unexpectedly, as if something sharp jabbed into its side and from below, something like an aggressive child playing a rough game of Hide-and-Seek, sticking his pointy edged stick into the solid confines of the cardboard box, suspecting a hider hidden within, my heart did a quick-step and my voice squeaked surprise.

Cupboards flew open. Glass shattered. Pictures fell off the wall.

From our bedroom, I leaped from my side of the bed, ran to the door frame, and stationed myself there, hollering to Rudy to do the same. He stood in the frame by the kitchen and waited for the earth to stop rolling, hollering back, “I’m good!”

The electricity suddenly turned off just as the house stopped moving, making one last loud creak of its wooden bones. Dark. And. Silent. Until I heard Rudy stomping through the kitchen, the glare of flashlights bending around walls, eventually coming into full view. “Here,” he said, handing me a light source. Then he walked away, returning a mere minute or two later with candles, saying we should conserve the batteries on the flashlights. (Which, by the way, we learned that candles are a no-no. Wicks mean matches, matches make fire, and fire can cause an explosion if there is a gas leak.)

Curious about where the actual earthquake hit, I tried my phone. Googled Earthquakes Today. La Habra, 5.1 it said. Confused that my location was getting in the way of facts, I tried again. La Habra, 5.1 Magnitude. I re-Googled my request with something about Earthquakes in CA Today. La Habra, 5.1. Just then lights flashed back on. And I heard the newscast relaying  the information that, yes indeed, La Habra had been hit. Interestingly, I thought, Cool, we have never been the epicenter of an earthquake! But then I thought, What! We are the epicenter! Yikes!.

Not much damage. A few things scattered about. Some shards of glass spread on the floor. Framed pictures faced down. A single wine bottle, hurdled off its rack, leaving its large family behind, landed, unbroken, under the kitchen table.

SATURDAY, MARCH 29

The day was filled with aftershocks, most notably in the evening. Large jolts, as if we’d been smacked hourly by an out-of-control car, veering into our home’s structure. Though my heart jolted right along with the quake, I knew there wasn’t much I could do except be prepared to duck-for-cover, if necessary. Our floors are scattered with mementos, some antiques, most not. It matters not whether we put these things back up today or next week. Earthquakes are unpredictable. Random.

SUNDAY, MARCH 30

Just before I planned to drag myself to the kitchen to start brewing a cup of coffee, another precursor to The Big One, or just an aftershock, hit. My body tensed. Toes pointed. Calves tightened. My stomach was sucked in, pressing my back into the bed’s mattress. Shoulders froze. Arms wrapped around my head. It took me a minute to realize I was under some form of duress, until I took a deep breath. And felt my body slowly loosen. Relax. Return to normal.

Not long after, with coffee in hand, while looking out the living room windows, gazing at puffy clouds, blue skies, and swaying tree branches I felt the floor roll, something like sitting in a row boat, gentle waves rocking it back and forth. Quietly. Peacefully. And yet, not knowing if danger lies beneath.

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Rudy and I were ready for a child, having had planned for an additional family member to join us for the past several months. We both believed there was no perfect moment to bring a baby into the world, but rather that bringing a newborn child would be perfect. Thus, the joy of reproducing began.

At the time, I was working for a medical laboratory, as their secretary. My job was to answer the phone, file information, and update clients payments. I had only been there for about three months, when, one morning, instinct told me I was pregnant with my first child. When my wondering words fell into the ears of a coworker, an expert phlebotomist, someone who draws blood, she immediately pulled me to the back room and performed a quick blood test.

Later, that same afternoon, the two of us, husband and wife, were sitting at a nearby Burger King, unexpectedly having lunch together.

So, why did you call me for lunch? he asked. I don’t think you’ve ever done that before. Everything OK?

Oh, yeah. Everything is great, I said calmly, quietly. I reached for his hand. I have some good news.

Rudy looked at me, trying to read my face.

Yes? he cautiously asked.

I stretched over the laminate tabletop and kissed him on the nose. A smile spread across both our faces.

Really? he exclaimed. Then he jumped up, pulled me up out of my swivel seat, and hugged me.