Pops tried to open my bedroom door and when it wouldn't open he back to yell. That's the first instance I felt panicked. The sound of my bedroom door scraping against a bookcase that had fallen over and was now in the way. I yelled at him to stop and rolled out of bed. Pushing the bookcase up with books strewn all over my floor, Pops slammed the door open.
"I'm fine!" I yelled and motioned to go back to bed. Pops was not having it. He ordered me to put on some shoes and head downstairs. This sucked. It was so early. I didn't think it was so bad. I walked downstairs from my bedroom to the second floor of our townhouse. Our kitchen was a mess. A cabinet that held all our cups and glasses had tipped over. The kitchen cabinet doors were hanging half open and some of our plates had spilled out.
The phone lines didn't work. Everyone was tying up the lines. My neighbors had spilled out into the driveway of our townhouse complex. We all waited. Waited for what, I don't know. Nothing was on fire. Nothing had collapsed. An aftershock rolled and panic crept into everyones eyes.
Pops was worried that people would try to come and rob us since there was no power. He placed a black clutch type bag on the coffee table. It was a bag that I only saw during Halloween. It was the bag that held his 45. I didn't question whether or not it was really necessary. I was more concerned that I couldn't watch TV on our regular TV. Whenever shit goes down Pops takes out the 45. It's his go to gun. He owns other guns, but that's the one that I always associate with Pops.
Two miles away my cousins house as fine. My parents decided to take me there so I could take a hot shower. They had hot water because they didn't turn the gas off of their house. They still had power, so I sat in front of the TV and watched all the cartoons I missed. We should've been in school but class was cancelled. I think it was cancelled for a week. If you lived out in Santa Clarita you were out longer since the freeway had collapsed and the Old Road into the Valley was severely impacted. My oblivious nerd girl self thought, no school for a week? Sweet! Earthquake damage to our house, whatevers...
Last night Strawberry Farm Boy and I were talking about the Northridge earthquake. I mentioned that I didn't realize how big a deal it was. He was surprised. He commented on how it was one of biggest national disasters that we'd ever experienced. And I said something that revealed the way I process things.
I never thought that the Northridge earthquake was a big deal because I couldn't let it be a big deal. If I had to think about how major the earthquake was it would scare me shitless. Instead I focused on the normal routine. School. Hanging out. Family life. Seeing collapsed and condemned buildings became normal. Not being able to go to the Northridge mall, sadly normal. A cosmetic crack that lines one of the walls in my parents house to this day, normal. After a while, I guess when FEMA funds finally kicked in, things were torn down and rebuilt. The Northridge Earthquake became a memory. Something to use when folks talk about earthquake preparedness.
The news stories yesterday were fully expected. Pops reaction to the earthquake being his 45 also fully expected. Me trying to go back to sleep during the largest national disaster at the time, completely expected. But me figuring out that I processed that scary experience through compartmentalizing everything, totally unexpected. Thanks Northridge earthquake press. It took twenty years to figure that all out!