Apparently, I missed an earthquake today. I don’t know how. I wasn’t riding in a car. I wasn’t swimming. In fact, at 11:53, the time at which it happened, I remember looking at the clock on my computer and wondering how long I should wait before taking lunch.
But I missed it.
I’ve been waiting 36 years to be at the center of a natural disaster and I missed it.
Okay, a 4.1 magnitude earthquake centered some 50 miles away from you is not quite a natural disaster, and I should be thankful for such a statement.
But, since my coworkers, just a few desks away from me, felt the shaking (most thought it was construction going on in our office building), I’m a bit bummed that I didn’t feel a thing.
Maybe I was too hungry.
Others would brush it off, be happy that it wasn’t “the big one” that apparently Israel is due for. But, not me. I have this unexplanable desire to feel the earth tremble.
I don’t know when my obsession with disaster began.
Certainly, when I was still a kid. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d put my money on The Wizard of Oz. I was entralled with the film from a tender age, and those of you who are American and in your thirties or older will remember that it used to be an annual tradition to watch The Wizard of Oz on TV, like the Ten Commandments during Passover, or The Year Without A Santa Claus, during the holiday season.
I remember being as young as five and sitting Indian style in front of our color television watching intensely the cyclone rip Dorothy away from Kansas to Oz. Since the movie simultaneously thrilled me and petrified me, I spent half the time in front of the TV and the other half behind the couch hiding.
So, it could be that my fascination with catastrophe is thanks to L. Frank Baum. Or, preferring smut to literature, you could subscribe to the Audrey Rose theory: I was reincarnated into this life after perishing in a terrible catastrophe in a previous life; my soul is haunted by said catastrophe; and I naturally seek out to learn all I can to prevent it from happening again.
Or, more realistically, perhaps I’m just one of the many thousands of sensitive human beings who, without trying, automatically attempts to empathize with another’s suffering by imagining what it’s like to be in one of those situations: from tsunami to hurricane to flood.
I know I’m not alone in my fascination. There’s a reason why in recent years we’ve seen an explosion in catastrophe related entertainment: With shows like “Storm Chasers” and “Full Force Nature,” The Weather Channel and The Discovery Channel expertly take advantage of our society’s growing interest in (and dare I say understanding of) the frequency with which disasters occur, how ineffective we are at predicting them, and how often they signficantly impact civilization.
When I moved to Israel, I was really surprised to learn we are located on a bunch of active fault lines. Furthermore, there are some dormant volcanoes sleeping in the area of the Golan Heights. Who knew? Here I was anticipating only the anxiety of terrorist attacks or regional turblulence (aka “war.”) I had no idea that earthquakes and volcanoes were a possibility, too.
Don’t mistake my glibness for a death wish or insensitivity for those who have suffered horrible losses in the face of disaster. I know I can afford to be glib because I’ve never gone through it.
But now, with the ghosts of war and terrorism constantly hanging over my head, I suddenly realized I don’t want to. In fact, I wonder if there is some way to retroactively reverse all that wishing for disaster.
Because, truth is, there is only so much turbulence this sensitive soul can handle. Considering I still jump every single time they make innocent announcements over the kibbutz loudspeaker, I think it’s probably best I didn’t feel the earthquake.
I need to stock up on my adrenaline for when I might really need it.
2 thoughts on “Looking for trouble”
You missed the earthquake in Jersey, too! Actually, all up and down the east coast from Georgia to Maine. They say the first tweets were already out there a few seconds before the shaking traveled from Virginia to NYC; this is how we have mass experiences nowadays. I was on the second story of a 2-story building in Denville. Everyone left the building, whipped out their smart phones and immediately knew the details. This excitement is already being eclipsed by the approach of Hurricane Irene, which all the media are doing their best to make sound apocalyptic.
Ellen: I don’t want to mess it up (tfoo tfoo tfoo) but this isn’t the first time I have narrowly escaped disaster. Avi and I left our work in Manhattan and our apt in Jersey City a week before 9/11 (we got married in Philadelphia 9/9/11 and headed to Tucson on 9/12/11). I definitely feel lucky to have missed the very crazy weather NJ has been having. We flew out of Newark to Tel Aviv only two days after the first huge blizzard that dumped more than 2 feet of snow on the state. We almost didn’t think the plane was going to get out (had we been scheduled for the day before, it wouldn’t have.)
Let’s hope we brought our luck to Israel!