mind the gap!

lomaprieta-marina-crushed-carTomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Umm, yay?

I was born in the Bay Area and earthquakes have never fazed me. Even while it was going on, I didn’t panic, because it honestly wasn’t that bad in our house. I think some plates rattled and I remember the lamp hanging above the kitchen table, where I was sitting, swayed pretty crazily.

What I remember most about it was that it seemed to go on for a freakishly long amount of time. The earthquakes I’d been in before had always been a quick jolt or two, then over. Loma Prieta went on and on, and just when you thought it was over, it started up again. Of course it was only like 30 seconds, but in retrospect it seems like several minutes.

Earthquakes are what my Louisiana relatives always come back with whenever I express my reluctance to live in an area where your house can be devastated with hurricanes on a yearly basis. They’re always like “Yeah but California! Earthquakes! EARTHQUAKESEARTHQUAKESEARTHQUAKES!!!”

BULLSHIT. For one thing, earthquakes — at least potentially devastating ones — don’t happen several months of every year. They happen maybe once a generation. My parents had their house destroyed twice in the first three years they lived in Louisiana. In 40+ years of living in California, they were in a total of one big earthquake, that didn’t cause them any personal property damage. And okay, you get a warning with hurricanes, but all you can do with that is save yourself. It’s not like you can pick up your fucking house and evacuate with it.

But the main thing is that I consider Loma Prieta my earthquake insurance. I was in a major earthquake. Loma Prieta will be in American history books next to New Madrid and 1906. I have a better chance of winning the lottery while getting struck by lightning than I do of ever being in a quake of that magnitude a second time. The way I see it, I never have to worry about earthquakes again.

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