I just want the earth to stop moving beneath my feet but it doesn’t look like it’s going to. If I was to choose a favourite element, it would probably be water but now as it seems like I’m constantly walking on ripples I’m not so sure.
So what does it feel like to experience not one, but more than four significant earthquakes in around two months and hundreds – no, probably thousands – of aftershocks? I’m grateful that I’m not on my own in all of this. The initial reaction is one of flight. And if the quake happens during the night that reaction is muted by a sense of disorientation, as if blindfolded and turned around and around so you don’t know where you are going. Our house is made of stone, thick stone walls and it shakes like a leaf caught in a strong breeze. Pictures, cupboards and wardrobes rattle, ceiling lights and cups hanging from a shelf swing and the floor undulates beneath our feet. Only seconds… but seems like forever. Once outside, when the ground is still trembling but the violence has stopped, a moment of disbelief and sheer terror fills our minds as we look back at our house; anticipating the worse. Then the shaking begins again, but it’s not the earth, it’s inside ourselves as we realise that we’re safe, that it could have been worse. Our family of cats and dogs pick up on our fear and gather round, wanting reassurance and we oblige with lots of cuddles.
The trembling sensation reappears with every aftershock as our hypersensitivity to any movement triggers a brief moment of fear and this goes on minutes after minutes, hours after hours, days after days; fuelled by reports from friends on social media and the constant checking of the earthquake list. It takes a gulp of courage to return back inside and luckily the weather has been kind enough to allow us some space to be warmed by the autumn sunshine. Life is literally thrown up in the air and dropped back down again, yet it never feels it lands in the right place. The constant checking of tiny hair line disruptions and the ever widening
crack in our bedroom wall has become a ritual that seems so natural, as has the checking of the emergency bag we keep by the door every night. A constant reminder of the fear and terror. And as for the sleep deprivation, it’s almost as if we hold our breath from the moment that night falls until the dawn.
But we must fight after the flight. Our own personal battle with ourselves and our anxiety for the ‘what if’. We are thankful that we are still alive, have a roof above our heads and families and friends who check in regularly to see how we are. We are thankful that we’re not in the throes of a war or threatened by terrorism. We are thankful for every moment that passes when a distant rumble or mumble doesn’t have us eyeing our one and only exit. Mother Nature is one angry lady, and unfortunately earthquakes are the one natural disaster that is almost impossible to predict. Life is to0 precious to live constantly on the edge and we have to return to some kind of normality, if only for our peace of mind. Whether we’ll every feel that kind of tranquil safety we took for granted when we moved here 9 years ago, I’m not sure. We’re actively looking for a second hand motor home to provide us with a safe haven. It may seem extreme but it’s a medium term plan which has just moved up the list. On the positive side, at last I’ll have the office space I’ve always dreamed of.