The quake rolled through a little after 9 PM and was immediately followed by a second: 5.1 and then, 3.4 on the Richter scale. I went to my computer to look up the details. Epicenter was in the town of Brea, about 25 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
In my apartment it felt like water swishing around a glass in a circular motion. Not a sharp jolt; just a swaying dizzying sensation that, due to the second quake, felt like it went on for several minutes. The dining room chandelier swirled overhead. A few pops and creaks in the hardwood floors.
I walked outside into the still and quiet night. No sirens, no commotion. People moved down the street from their parked cars to the bar on the corner, laughing, teasing, voices filled with story. I don’t think any of them were aware of the shifting of the earth in the night.
Back inside, I learned that the depth was only a mile, meaning that the shaking was felt over a larger area, and was particularly strong at the epicenter. There was damage, unlike the last quake over a week ago. And due to the sequence—a minor 3.6 shaker a little after 8 followed by the 5.1 and 3.4, scientists at Caltech were more than a little more adamant that a larger quake may follow in the next few hours, days, or even weeks. How comforting!
Across the southland, people reported smashed dishes, fallen shelves, broken knick knacks. Widely scattered power outages and broken water mains. Probably more than a few jangled nerves.
It has not been an easy week. (Is any week easy?) Today, my wife’s school was on lockdown for the second time this month. The first was due to possible gang retaliation at a funeral in the parish church. The latest was the result of a parolee with a gun running from the end of a police chase. There were several sightings of him in the side streets and alleys around the school, and the requisite army of LAPD officers swarmed the area. Lots of yellow police tape and tense moments until the all-clear came through and the kids could go home and start their weekend.
In all of this normalcy—that’s what it is: normal—I love coming home on Friday nights. The fatigue actually feels good, like I’ve earned my rest. We will spend the weekend reading, writing and catching up on household chores. We will regroup and prepare for the challenges of next week. Life is circular, always shifting and moving and reconfiguring itself, and we must roll with the change, the impermanence.
A police helicopter roars overhead flying northbound to some emergency. Somewhere down the block a dog whines and barks once and then falls silent. The crescent moon is disappearing, and the air outside is spring moist and damp, and smells of the ocean.
It is Friday night in Los Angeles, business as usual. To the earth, the sky and my fellow inhabitants of this city of angels, rest easy, and take care.