America Day 44 – Little Earthquakes

So far no big one, but the ground is moving around us here. I’m in San José. Yesterday when I was just into my hotel room in the evening I felt the room shake. There’s a main road outside my bedroom. It’s soundproofed but I see the traffic shooting by. I stood in my pants by the bed regarding the nighttime road. “Big fucking truck,” I mumbled to myself. Nope. 4.5, but a good way north. “Expect after tremors.”

So today I’m on rubber legs, more curious than worried. Assessing movements. Shortly after I was done in the morning I felt a tiny shudder. I dismissed it as nothing but those physical judders we all get where we think our phone is vibrating in a pocket it isn’t even in. But then, this evening in Claire’s room, the telly is on and while she’s talking I see the telly folk tell us there was another quake today, when I felt the wobble, further south of us than the first one was north, but a little bigger. 4.7. I disconnect momentarily from the conversation as my pattern-seeking brain wonders if tomorrow it’ll land under us.

“It’s only a matter of time until the big one,” is bay area wisdom. It’s not quite Krakatoa here where they actually lived on land created by the previous eruption. It’s not even Naples, where 2 million people live near a volcano that destroyed two cities in 79AD. But there’s an inevitability about the San Andreas fault line. One day this whole area is gonna drop into the sea. In 1906 there was a big one that killed thousands, partly because buildings hadn’t been adapted for it. In 1989, 30 years ago to the day on Thursday, a slightly smaller one killed 63 and caused over 6 billion bucks of damage.

North of here there’s a natural gas facility on fire after the first earthquake. There’s footage of people trying to put it out by airdropping water from helicopters and it’s like watching someone try to stab an elephant to death with a drawing pin. I expect Flumpkin insisted on it. He thinks airdropping fixes everything. He was wobbling his flubby lips about why France didn’t drop tons of water onto Notre Dame and destroy what has been saved in a show of power. The tit.

But yeah, that’s some of the last natural gas in the world turning into carbon and hitting the atmosphere and there’s nothing that can be done but contain it and try to starve it. Meanwhile the hotel I’m staying in has a long pointless gas fire burning outside all evening every night with nobody standing or sitting anywhere near it. In fifty years time if people can still watch videos they’ll watch videos of stuff like that with utter incomprehension.

Meanwhile I’m just chilling out in my lovely hotel room, wondering if that’s it for the quakes. We did have one more a couple of hours ago but it was smaller, in Pleasant Hill, just north of here. 3.4. I felt nothing. It’s funny this place. People live hard here, like they do in Naples. And it’s kind of understandable when the sword of Damocles hangs over their heads. I’m only here for a few days, but it’s been good to understand the moving earth first hand, and feel a little bit of it. I’d sooner not have it any more than I’ve had, thankyouplease. We were listening to Tori Amos on the way in. Now I’ve got a better handle on the title of her first album…


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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