I thought I had left the earthquake country behind when I moved out of San Francisco, California, but the quake had found me hiding in Tokyo. Yep, just now, we experienced an earthquake followed by tremors in the longest span of time I had ever known. A year ago, when I was still living in San Francisco and my partner lived in Tokyo, we were talking on the phone. I was at home, and he was at a café with his colleagues. Suddenly, through the phone, he told me that he just experienced his first earthquake ever. Interestingly enough, few seconds later, in San Francisco, the earth moved under my feet. It was as if the ocean between us never existed with us experiencing different earthquakes in two separate countries at the same time.
Tonight’s earthquake happened while we were both sitting in the study at home. We were both working on our computers when my partner alerted me of the first mild jolt. Immediately we looked at the Toraja (Indonesian) funerary dolls that I had placed on the top shelf of the bookcase; shortly thereafter came the swaying. My initial reaction was to head under the door frame, but foolish enough, I decided to ask my partner to join me in preventing the bookcases from falling. They were neither bolted down to the floor nor attached to the wall, and we had plenty of books. I thought if I were to die, I would like to be buried under those books.
Unlike any earthquake and aftershakes I have had before, this one had many tremors in the hours to come. Much later on while I was in the kitchen cleaning the counter, my partner rushed in and asked if I had felt another jolt. I said, “Not really,” but as I just finished saying that, again I felt the ground shifting a bit. Then I saw the artwork swaying on the wall. We checked with CNN online and found out about the magnitude and center of the quake: “Ojiya, a city in Niigata prefecture (state), about 260 kilometers (160 miles) northwest of Tokyo. The quake was about 20 kilometers (12 miles) beneath the earth’s surface, the Meteorological Agency said.”