Something I’ve learned about Virginia since I moved here a few years ago is that everyone over-reacts to everything involving weather. I’ve joked a lot about how a bit of winter weather causes life to grind to a halt here. Thursday, as a thunderstorm that was a bit heavier than usual rolled through the area as a likely result of the most recent hurricane, people were jumping and moving about quite nervously. Several emergency vehicles flew through a nearby intersection. Anything other than sunshine brings about its share of chaos here.
The reason I’m able to distance myself from these reactions is that I’ve lived through a lot of severe thunderstorms in my life, and I grew up seeing winter weather the likes of which Virginia may never have experienced. Nothing that happens here concerns me, nothing causes me to be overly worried or concerned. My experience tells me it will be okay.
Tuesday of this week, while returning some comments on some recent posts here, I noticed a sound above me, as though someone were running around upstairs in the building that I was in. I thought it odd, but didn’t give it a lot more consideration. Except that it didn’t go away. It became louder. A colleague looked up from her phone call across the room to ask me what I thought the sound was. At that point, the room began to shake.
I’ve always done better at keeping very calm in real crisis situations than I do with minor things. For example, if someone gets injured and needs help, I’m very calm and composed, but if I drop my sunglasses, I start to hyperventilate. Tuesday was a calm and composed sort of crisis. I remember sitting still, looking around, and thinking, “was that an earthquake? Do we even get earthquakes in Virginia?”
When the building that I had been in was evacuated, I received a text from Karen, who was currently about 30 minutes away from where I was, asking, “Did you feel that?” That was the first that I became convinced that I had experienced an earthquake.
Now, West coast friends will tell me I’m a wimp, and that I need to deal. I suppose that, in the same way that winter weather doesn’t concern me because of my experience, earthquakes are too regular for them. When I was in grad school, an old girlfriend was doing an internship in Florida for the summer. I remember seeing that a hurricane was moving through her area, and calling her to see if she was okay. She laughed at me, and that anything under a Category 3 didn’t cause anyone to worry there. I thought of this when I read a tweet on Tuesday to the effect of, “Anything under a 6.0 doesn’t even get us out of bed” from someone on the West coast.
Prior to Tuesday, though, I had never experienced an earthquake. While I am glad to say I’ve had the experience in a way, and while I’m very aware that this was very minor as earthquakes go, the feeling of powerlessness I experienced for about 30 seconds that afternoon was something that I didn’t enjoy at all. I don’t exactly have a bucket list of natural disasters to experience, and I’m glad that this was the relatively minor event that it was.
Still, when a friend posted to the lyrics to the AC/DC song that I used to title this post on his Facebook feed, I couldn’t help but smile. I lived through my first earthquake this week. If its all the same, I’d just as soon avoid a second.
Photo Attribution: dbking