Soon after my cousin Mindy had Kali, my mom shipped Josie off to California to be her “mother’s helper.” Josie was a minor—I think this was several years ago. I can’t even remember how long, but sadly it’s approximately the same age as Kali, which means I’m not sure how old she is, either. I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say that it was 4 years ago because Kali isn’t in school yet and I wasn’t married at the time Josie went. Kali was about 9 months old when Heather, Mindy’s sister, got married. Heather got married shortly after Andrew and I got married.
And that was a really long way of saying that about 4 years ago Josie went to California to help Mindy out with new baby Kali. And because Josie would have been about 11 and the airlines were being really weird about letting minors fly unaccompanied, getting her to and from California was a little bit of a bother.
She had to have a parent drop her off at the airport and have a prearranged person pick her up, with photo identification and a statement from my mom saying that it was alright, which wasn’t a problem. My mom dropped her off at the airport and said goodbye. Mindy picked her up. That all worked out fine.
Getting her home, however, was another story. Mindy is not one of Josie’s parents so was not allowed to drop her off at the airport meaning that she couldn’t fly home. That could only mean one thing…
So (omitting a lot of details that would make this story super long (and probably offensive to some)) on the appointed day, my mom, my friend Annik, and I packed up the car and left on the long drive to Southern California.
We stayed most of our nights at my Auntie Arlene’s house. She lives about an hour away from my cousin Mindy, but her house is bigger…and closer to the ocean…so we stayed there. My cousin Lance was on some uber cool trip with his friends (doing some cool outdoorsy thing in some South American country) so I got to stay in his room. Annik stayed across the hall from me in my cousin Jenna’s old bedroom. Mom and Josie stayed in the game room.
Early one morning, I believe it was a Sunday, someone started shaking me. I assumed that Josie had been sent in to wake me up to get ready for church.
“Okay, I’m up.” I said, not getting up and still being shaken, “You can stop shaking me now. I’m awake.”
The shaking continued.
“Josie, go away! I’m awake, okay?”
The shaking started to get a little stronger and I realized that my whole bed was shaking, not just me. I then thought that perhaps it was Uncle Michael who had been sent in to wake me up. He’s such a prankster.
“No, really! I’m up!” I said, sitting up and opening my eyes.
I looked around the room. I was completely alone. And I was still being shaken. As was everything in the room.
So, I thought, This is an earthquake.
And then I tried to remember what I had learned in elementary school during our earthquake drills. All I could think of was that there was a self right above my head and a window behind me but I couldn’t remember quite what to do about any of that. All I knew was that was probably bad.
I ran into the hallway because I thought I remembered something about doorways being safe. My mom had just come upstairs to check on us, so I met her in the hallway. Everything was still shaking.
“So,” I said, “This is an earthquake.”
We were the only two who woke up for it. My aunt and uncle, Annik, and Josie all slept right through it. When my aunt got up we told her about the earth quake. She was rather placid about the whole thing.
“Did you see any waves across the floor?” she asked, “Sometimes that’s really neat to see.”
We informed her that we had not seen any waving of the floor.
“Did you at least run out to look at the pool? Sometimes we get little waves in there and water sloshes out.”
We had not gone to look at the pool either.
My aunt thought we had wasted our entire earthquake experience.
I, on the other hand, found it rather surreal. Things were shaking so hard that it took me a few minutes to catch my balance when I got out of bed. It felt like the ground had liquefied under my feet. And it was slightly scary; this was only a little earthquake and the power behind it was stunning.
It’s a good thing we weren’t at Mindy’s house! They were hit far worse! Perhaps I’ll tell their story next week.