Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I've experience earthquakes twice before here in Philly. Both quite some time ago. One woke me in the middle of the night. I thought someone had rammed a truck into the side of my house. I noted the time because I felt it had to have been a quake. The next morning, I listened to the news and sure enough it had been.

This afternoon, as I sat on the sofa reading, my building began to bounce and sway. That's right bounce! I was bounced off the sofa. Twice. I saw things in the apartment swaying back and forth, dishes rattled. And the whole building felt as if it were moving.

For some reason, the idea of an earthquake didn't occur to me this time. I thought maybe the building was shuddering prior to collapse. So, I put on some shoes, grabbed my flash drives, took my bag with notebooks and glasses, and left as fast as I could.

I live on a very high floor in one of the taller buildings in the city. I wasn't about to take chances.

WHen I got to the ground floor, everything was chaos. People all over the lace. The building manager told me there'd been an earthquake. A big one in Virginia.

I left the building and the streets were packed with people. All the surrounding buildings had evacuated. People stood all about trying to get through to others on their cell phones. I did the same things and at first got no signal. But finally got through but only to some of those I wanted to contact.

I headed for a nearby cafe to sit and write and think and as I walked couldn't help but look up at the tall buildings all around. I wondered what would happen when the aftershocks came.

For the first time, I think I experienced what people in earthquake zones must feel. My sense of security in the safety of things was shaken. Just as the quake had rumbled through my building, it had also temporarily rattled my sense of security.

It's taking time for it to return.