With the San Francisco earthquake hitting the other day, I know I’m not alone in stopping to think about exactly what I was doing on the night of the Northridge quake in 1994.
The biggest disaster that night had little to do with plates or windows.
I remember the situation like it was yesterday. I was sleeping at my new boyfriend Billy’s apartment, when at 4:30 a.m. the two of us were shaken awake by a thunderous noise and vibration. Glass shattered, dishes slammed out of cabinets and crashed to the floor, people screamed, the entire building shook and shook and then the lights went out. It felt for a moment like the world was ending. And then it stopped.
“Earthquake!” Billy yelled.
He made a grab for me in the dark to make sure I was okay before rolling off the futon and grabbing his favorite pair of cut off sweatpants from the floor where he’d dropped them the night before. I could hear the tenants of his apartment building noisily gathering in the floor’s hallways and making their way outside. I was busy reaching around in the dark trying to make contact with my bra. This was such a nightmare. I made it a rule to sleep with clothes on ever since I’d been living practically on top of the San Andreas fault. It seemed that natural disasters loved to strike in the cover of darkness and I didn’t want to get caught running outside naked. But I’d relaxed my rule a bit since getting regular sex and now it was looking like I might end up going outside braless.
Billy and I had a sickening realization seemingly at the same time. Oh God, his parents.
“We have to go get my parents.” Ah yes, my new boyfriend’s parents were staying in a hotel down the street. They’d arrived just the night before and I was supposed to be meeting them for a civilized breakfast that day (much much later that day). For the first time. Meeting my boyfriend’s parents. And as we stood there panicking, his parents were most likely being evacuated down the stairs. I wouldn’t have time to find my bra let alone run a comb through my hair.
And that’s how I met my new boyfriend’s parents –at 4 in the morning on an emergency stairwell after a major disaster. We made awkward introductions –mainly because since I was at their son’s apartment in the middle of the night, it was obviously we were sleeping together despite only knowing each other a month or two. The whole rest of the day, and their trip really was a mess of demolished apartment buildings and dealing with scared pets and freaked out roommates.
We went on to date for over a year but from that moment on, the writing was on the cracked walls.
P.S. if you want to read about my equally horrifying recent trip to the pediatric dentist check it out on Babble.