Since blogs are meant to be immediate and spontaneous, there is a lot of blogging about current news (i.e. Katie Holmes’ new short haircut has been a big topic of conversation in some segments of the blogosphere and although there is a lot I could say about hair in general, I have nothing to say about Katie’s). With a news background, I know a good story when I see one. So when I contemplate commenting–even leaving out politics which I have promised to avoid–the problem can be winnowing down the choices.
Like today. It was tempting to read the story about the woman who gave birth to her 18th child. I’m sure other bloggers will have fun with that–although I can’t imagine that woman having much fun.
I typically wouldn’t blog about something right out of the headlines, but tonight I find myself coming back to the earthquake in LA. Today’s quake sent me right down memory lane– to the last “big” one in LA, the 6.7 centered in Northridge in 1994. The night before, I arrived home from a week-long business trip. An hour after I got home, H, my ex (known from previous blogs) dropped off the kids after a day at Disneyland. They were both sound asleep as he carried them from his car and put them in their beds, still in their clothes. Imagine how disoriented they felt to wake up a few hours later, still dressed to meet Mickey Mouse, with the whole house shaking.
I leaped out of bed racing for the kids’ rooms. I remember hearing the sound of shattering glass which turned out to be the sound of my bare feet breaking the glass from framed photos falling off the walls. (Note to California residents: this is why they recommend keeping a pair of shoes by your bed.)
And despite the kids sleeping in my bed for weeks afterward, having no water for 6 days, and a mess to clean up, I remember our experience of the earthquake mostly as an adventure. Except for one thing.
Like responsible parents, our home was completely babyproofed at ground level. We kept fragile things up high where the kids couldn’t reach. So pots and pans and cleaning supplies were safely tucked away inside cabinets with latches, while more decorative objects—including an entire set of Baccarat crystal and a collection of exquisite handpainted ceramic platters—went crashing to the floor. The crystal was replaceable; the platters, carefully brought home from travels, were not.
I know how lucky I am that my losses were all material things, and that my children and I survived unscathed. But I have to admit over the years, I’ve thought wistfully about those platters. Not that they broke–that was unavoidable, and everything broke. But they were gone. Mixed in with the rest of the debris from the earthquake, long gone by the time I looked for them.
I remembered the platters a few years later when I became an artist, and began making mosaics. Those platters could have formed the basis for beautiful works of art. Their loss additionally annoyed me because I know I did not throw away those pieces. At the time of the earthquake, I couldn’t have imagined ever making mosaics, or even becoming an artist. But I am sentimental; I’m an impossible packrat; I save everything. The platters were broken into large pieces, not shattered, and I would have tried to have them repaired.
Since I didn’t lose the platters, and my ex-husband H was the polar opposite of a packrat, I held him to blame for throwing out the pieces. As I also blamed him for giving away the kids’ irreplaceable stuffed animals and getting rid of my treasured record albums. I didn’t discuss it with him; but I blamed him.
Today, when I heard about the L.A. earthquake, it stirred up memories of the 1994 earthquake–and those platters again. And then suddenly one of the pieces from 1994 metaphorically came flying off the shelf and hit me in the head. My ex-husband H did throw out the stuffed animals and my record albums. But during the earthquake he wasn’t living in our house anymore– therefore it was not him but probably my well-meaning housekeeper who threw out the platters.
Today’s earthquake was a wakeup call for the city of LA. Just 5.4 on the Richter scale but enough to shake loose the memories in my brain. I figure I don’t need to call and apologize to H. It was petty on my part, but he never knew I blamed him. Besides, it doesn’t really change anything. Truthfully, it still hurts–those platters would have made gorgeous mosaics.