19 years ago today, my corner of the earth was rocked by the Loma Prieta Earthquake.
The epicenter of the quake is about half a mile from my parents' house.
I was seven.
We were driving to swim lessons at the YMCA.
At first my mom thought it was wind.
There was maple syrup on the kitchen ceiling. Of all the books on the floor and collapsed foundations and whatever else, that's the thing that struck me as the most strange. How did maple syrup get on the ceiling?
My Playskool radio was the only one that worked, and we spent the whole night listening to the emergency broadcast service through a device that I used to record my musical works of genius.
We slept in the field, terrified that our house would come down in the aftershocks.
Considering the damage, I'm still surprised that it didn't.
Our water tower fell down. I remember weeks of brown water leaking out of our faucets. This was before we had a second bathroom or a shower. Baths lost their appeal for a time.
School was cancelled for a week (or more?). It was the week we were supposed to go to the pumpkin patch, which was the only field trip we were planning in 2nd grade.
My mom, who never spent more than $10 per child on Halloween costumes, bought us nice ones that year.
She also took us to see The Little Mermaid in theaters, twice.
My dad was at work. He drove until there was no road, then he walked, then he borrowed a car until the road was broken again, then he walked, and finally, he came home.
We had all of these weird groceries that they were giving away in Watsonville. Gallons of Sunny Delight.
My mom lost almost all of her china.
At my grandparents' house in Soquel, my Grandpa Irv could drive his tractor straight into his living room through a gaping hole in the wall. That's how they cleared out all of the broken stuff.
For over a decade, downtown Santa Cruz was a wasteland of empty lots and demolished buildings.
Benefit shows at The Catalyst
Suddenly we had earthquake drills at school. They might have helped if we had them before October 17, 1989.