Last night there was an earthquake in the Atlantic, so close to Brazil it registered 5.4 on the Richter scale and people felt it in three states. One of my students told me, excitement brightening her eyes as she spoke, that late last night she felt the earth move. She held onto the walls, she told me giggling, and felt the floor shake beneath her as she stood. For a moment I was jealous, wondering where I was last night at the time she felt it, wondering how it was possible that the earth could move so forcefully and how I could not have felt it. But I was fast asleep and thus, I missed it. We miss a lot of things that way.
I suppose there are few waking moments in a person’s life when time stops, or nearly so, and she can simply feel, unencumbered by pretense or propriety. I suppose, too, that because of their rarity, those moments are like claps of thunder or the sharp glint of light off an angled mirror: clear and strong, so much so the body reacts with an instinct equally clear and strong. In moments like that, with the light or the sound, the body withdraws instantly, pulls inward to protect itself for fear of the awesome power of those elements.
It seems the earth is quaking here, in my own apartment tonight. Time, too, has stopped. And for a moment, went in reverse several years, back to the time when the wall that was my father began to shake and quiver from the awesome power of illness. Back then, I fell down and fell apart, wreckage from a natural disaster. And they say lightning doesn’t strike twice.
This quake is not mine to tell about. But I turn first to words so as to find some kind of sense through them. The Earth has shifted, friends, and I am wide awake.