I have always lived in California.
I was born in the Los Angeles area, where I clearly remember my mom telling me about her deep fear of tidal waves (that’s what we called them back then). It became a sort of family joke. Until Indonesia just a few years ago. And now Japan.
I grew up on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains, in the high desert, amidst pumice and other volcanic rocks, along with hot springs and earthquakes.
I’ve lived in California’s Bay Area for more than 20 years. I lived through the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. I’d like to never experience something like that again, which was NOTHING compared to Japan’s 9.0 (recently upgraded by the USGS) earthquake + tsunami + nuclear reactors+ oh yes, a volcanic eruption.
If you live in California, you experience earthquakes regularly. It’s part of life here. I don’t feel them anymore, unless they’re at least 5.5 on the Richter scale. To live in this beautiful state, you play with fire. Literally. Our state is riddled with faults. We sustained millions of dollars in damage from the tsunami. We’re not that far from Japan, geologically, when you think about it.
Many of our buildings have been retrofitted for earthquakes. Our workplaces implement emergency plans. We all know what we’re supposed to put in our emergency kits/backpacks (do you have one? I do!). I imagine a whole lot of Californians are restocking their emergency kits right now.
Japan’s unimagineable tragedies hit too close to home here in California. I’m sure other states and countries can say the same. I watched online news all day yesterday, awash in empathy, tears, fear, anger, shock, horror.
Japan is part of the Bay Area’s culture. My neighbors, colleagues and friends are all personally affected, at some level, desperately trying to confirm that their friends and family living in the devastated areas are OK. That all are accounted for.
This earthquake didn’t just affect Japan. It affects all of us, from tsunami warnings and damage, to potential nuclear fall out, to devastating one of the world’s largest economies. Our planet has been changed, thanks to a 4-6.5″ shift in the planet’s axis (I’ve seen both figures, 6.5″ being the most recent). Our planet’s axis was shifted!
Moreover – and this is coming from a totally non-touchy feely person – our sisters and brothers and parents and children – our global family – are hurting. Pets, livestock and animals are gone. Loved ones are gone. Homes are gone. Family treasures are gone.
We all watched the tsunami waves build in size as they neared the shore. And the utter devastation as they pulverized boats, homes, businesses, vehicles. In other recent disasters, it was hard to figure out what was really going on. I remember being so confused about the Indonesia tsunami. Katrina. The earthquake in Chile. As social media becomes increasingly mainstream, news spreads so much more quickly. News is now reported by anyone with video capability on an iphone/other cell phone. We experience it nearly live. Unedited and raw.
If you’ve stuck it out this long, thank you for listening to my diatribe. I’m finding it difficult to just “carry on” this week, given the enormity of this tragedy, which is still unfolding. I need to respect the enormity and historical significance. Our great great grandchildren will one day be quizzed on this in grade school. Many of us will have forgotten most of this by that time.
And many of us, myself included, will never forget.