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Freaky Friday: Special Anniversary Edition

Posted by purplemary54 on January 17, 2014

Today’s Freak is another not very freaky song, but twenty years ago today, I was extremely freaked the fuck out.

At 4:31 AM, January 17th, 1994, the earth moved somewhere under Northridge, CA in a 6.7 earthquake.  I spent the duration standing in my bedroom doorway screaming (perfectly normal earthquake behavior for me).  When it was over, I found a flashlight and a radio, and called my aunt & uncle’s house.  I made sure the cats and the dog we were keeping for another uncle were all alive, and then I went to their house.  (I was alone at the time: My brother was working at UPS, and Dad was still in Texas.)

I don’t deal well with earthquakes, which is unfortunate given where I live.  I don’t like suddenly being shaken about like a toddler’s toy for what might be a couple of seconds of tectonic shimmying, or might be a minute or more of utter devastation.  And being woken from a sound sleep with the thunderous rumbling of the ground under my feet shifting direction was, frankly, traumatic.  I’d been through major earthquakes before by that point, and Northridge rattled me mentally and emotionally just as much.  I fear many things, and earthquakes are pretty much in my Terrifying Top 10.

I have two very vivid memories of Northridge.  One is seeing footage of a damaged freeway.  The support pillars had collapsed back in 1972 after another major quake, prompting lots of retrofitting and engineering changes.  The same section of freeway collapsed in 94, although this time it was the actual road portion; the pillars remained standing tall.

The other memory I have is sitting in my Geology class the next day, and hearing a strange high-pitched scritchy noise while we worked on a lab exercise.  Suddenly the third-floor room started swaying, and I realized it was the seismograph in the room registering an aftershock.  That was kind of cool.

But I was still seriously freaked out.


8 Responses to “Freaky Friday: Special Anniversary Edition”

  1. Mary,
    You just reminded me of the earthquake I woke up to, I think I have my traumatic childhood coping mechanism of dissociation to thank for not having gotten freaked out by it and having forgotten the experience until I read about yours.

    It’s weird that I can now see how freaked out I should have been then and can identify the correlation between not freaking out over big things like that and then becoming an emotional basket case over something completely minor and unrelated decades later. Go figure.


  2. dan4kent said

    PM — Vivid memories to be sure – big and small. But it’s the small ones that resonate with us most. Well done. And as for Ms. King? I remember sitting on the dorm room floor my freshman year and playing the track over and over. It was a week or two after my grandpa had died and the album became my medicine. So fine for you to have uncovered that memory for me. Thank you. Dan

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