The first earthquake I remember was the Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987. The ground started shaking as I ate breakfast in the kitchen. I don’t remember if I actually got down and under the table nor what Danny or my mom did. They didn’t seem all that scared.
After the shaking stopped, mom turned off the gas and checked the kitchen shelves. There were no leaks; everything was in its right place. I went to my bedroom and found a dozen stuffed animals on the floor, rather than the high shelves nailed to the wall. Mom searched for Adrian in her bedroom, and couldn’t find him. He had hidden in the closet after being awoken by the shaking.
Mom sent me and Danny to school that day. I must have been one of three or four kids in Ms. Buxton’s second grade class that actually showed up that day.
Later, I’d check out books about earthquakes and write reports on them for school. As I read more, I grew more interested. Part of me found them fun, despite fully understanding that they caused a great deal of destruction and death. In college I took a class on the subject and would try to identify the different types of seismic waves when an earthquake struck. These days, I’m bummed when I miss an earthquake or am out of town when one hits, like last July’s Chino Hills quake.
Of course, I don’t always enjoy the ground shaking. I dislike the late night/early morning quakes and being shaken out of bed. The ’94 Northridge quake was one of those, but the actual 6.7 early morning quakes isn’t what I remember most from that day. Later that morning, my family went to Mass. An aftershock hit during the service as the entire assembly knelt and watched the priest consecrate the bread and wine. After the shaking stopped, the large cross behind the altar continued swinging from side to side. Everyone remained kneeling, the priest didn’t acknowledge the tremor, and a lone woman sobbed across the center aisle.