Shaking in New York City

I was sitting at my desk checking messages on my phone when my chair started shaking. At first, I thought my chair was wobbly but the shaking was rhythmic. It was a side to side movement that was gentle and definitely perceptibly.

Something caused me to look in the direction of the table lamp. Without a doubt, the shade was shaking. No mistake about it.

Maybe the breeze is stronger than I think it is, I say to myself. But no, the leaves on the trees aren’t moving. Not as much as my chair is.

I looked at my watch. How long has this been? Could this be an earthquake?

Goodness, what are we supposed to do when there’s an earthquake? This couldn’t be an earthquake? Maybe I should stand in the doorway like I think I remember I learned from safety lessons in primary school.

The shaking’s gotten stronger. The vertical blinds are definitely moving. How long has it been, really?  Ten seconds? Fifteen? Twenty?

Finally, the shaking stops. My cell phone rings. It’s my niece.

Did you feel it? I ask.

Yes! OMG, Auntie, we’re going to die!

No, we’re not. Calm down. Are you by yourself?

Yes, my roommates are out. Auntie, I’m scared. Panic in her voice. We’re going to die, aren’t we? Sob.

No, honey, we’re not. We’re going to be okay. You’re going to be fine.

I switch on the television just in time to see that the earthquake – yes, it was an earthquake – is breaking news. “A magnitiude 5.8 earthquake hit 85 miles from Washington, D.C….” the announcer intoned.

It’s centered in Washington, DC, I tell my niece.

By now, she’s stopped sobbing.

I’m okay, now, she says.

Sure? You want to come over?

No. I’m fine, she says. I was nervous. I called Auntie J. at work, no answer. Nothing on her cell, either.

Cell phones are the first to go, I tell her. Like during the blackout (August, 2003). I just sent you some love, I say, with as much calm in my voice as I can muster. Feel it?

Okay, Auntie, I feel it. I can hear the smile in her voice. I’m okay now.

We say goodbye. I promise to check in with her later in the evening.

I click on to another station. It’s the same news told from a slightly different angle. I switch off the television and return to writing.

Thankfully, there’s no loss of life, no damage. Everyone’s just a bit shaken up.

8 comments on “Shaking in New York City

  1. I felt the tremor too. I don’t think I would have had I not been sitting. I really thought I was having some medical issues that needed tending. For real. Then later, someone asked those in the room if we felt the earthquake.

    Thankfully, it was mild and as you say, no one was injured.

    On another note, I suppose you’ll be going to visit the King monument since you’re not that far. My son’s suggested that we go. I’m planning in my head.

  2. I know what you mean. Interestingly enough, several people I spoke with didn’t feel anything.
    I agree – we’ve been lucky. So far, no damage or injuries from the 6.8 in Peru either.

    I want to go but with Irene threatening, I’m not sure about this weekend. Maybe the week after Labor Day.

  3. Didn’t hear about it over here.

    I saw a doco after one of the big earthquakes. Scientific people were saying that you crouch next to something solid so if the walls of the building come crashing down there is a cushion, and you are not crushed.

    But then this website refutes that

    So I don’t really know, but one thing everyone seems to agree on – don’t stand in a doorway.

    Glad to hear that all is well. Does NY get earthquakes often?

    But now I’m confused because I thought you moved to Jamaica?

  4. Its refreshing to know nothing truly bad happened to you. Now you must prepare for the next weather drama: a storm (or hurricane) that’s coming your way! Thankfully, I’ve never experienced an earthquake first hand. But I have experienced a hurricane. Its very scary. What adds to the fear factor is that it gets dark real quick. I give you a lot of credit for living on the east coast. The weather there is just too harsh for me. Stay safe.

  5. I didn’t feel a thing and only found out when i went to get my hair done and saw people standing outside tall buildings… Phew! Glad all are safe. 😉

  6. Quite a few people said they didn’t. At work, some people sitting in the same row did, others didn’t. Not sure why.
    I agree, just glad we’re all safe.

  7. Thanks, Sherry. I went through a hurricane when I was very young. All I remember was water everywhere.
    It’s been a week – hurricane and earthquake a few days apart.

  8. No, I haven’t moved yet. But I’m on my way…
    Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out later.

    During the shaking, I realized I didn’t know what to do beside standing in a doorway. But a friend of mine said it’s better to stand in the bathroom.
    I think the last one was several years ago – maybe 50?

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