We had a 5.6 earthquake last night. It happened about 8 p.m., just as Gabe was nestling into bed while Erika read him bedtime stories. We've had them before, of course, but this one was stronger than usual. It was centered just to the east of San Jose. Our landlord called me up about 10 seconds after it was over to ask how the building was doing.
"This lets you know my priorities, Michael," he said. "I called you before I called my wife."
He was calling from Santa Clara, which is right next to San Jose.
To me it was business as usual, but soon I heard weepy sounds from the Gabe's room, and Erika informing me that my son was a little freaked out.
So I went in, lay down next to him and told him the story of my first earthquake, which occurred in 1971, when I was also 4. I was sharing the back bedroom with Marcy. There was a picnic basket hanging from a hook on the door immediately opposite my bed, and as the room swayed, the basket swayed with it, looking in the pre-dawn darkness like a monster. So I freaked and jumped into bed with Marcy, who also freaked because she didn't know at first what had jumped into bed with her.
Gabe thought the story was funny, and gradually he allowed himself to be reassured, although he was nervous about going to sleep for awhile.
Nervous as he was, Gabe still held up better than some of our tenants. One woman, from Turkey, was out in the street, too nervous to go back into the building, because of bad memories of Turkish earthquakes. Another woman from Mexico was having a complete meltdown. I tried to reassure her as best I could, all the while thinking, heck this was only a 5.6. How are these people going to react when the big one hits?