We had an earthquake in Manhattan last year. I felt it when a lot of people didn’t. I had just joked about how that fault line in our neighborhood happens to be under a street with a strip of outdoor cafes. It’s a weekend hangout. Motorcycles race up to the street and park. The drivers commune with each other, with people standing around the cafes. There’s a garden across the street where people socialize. If an earthquake came on Saturday, all those folks would be sucked into the earth’s core, I said.
A day later, my TV stand shook and I knew immediately what it was, though I live in an old building that shakes when trucks rumble by. I knocked on neighbor’s doors to warn them. They said they didn’t feel anything. “I’ll turn on the news and see,” one said before going back inside. I ran down six flights of stairs — Smokey the Bear said you shouldn’t take elevators if there’s a fire, so I figured you shouldn’t take them if there’s an earthquake either.
I got outside and stood there. People strolled. They waited for their dogs to finish pooping, talked to neighbors. I squinted, looking for signs of panic in their faces, for people screaming, running around with their arms flailing. Didn’t see any. The super of my building whistled while he hosed our sidewalk.
“Did you feel that! We had an earthquake – I know it.” “Yeah? I didn’t feel anything. Where are you going anyway? If there’s an earthquake, you’re probably better off upstairs.” I told him I’d go to the armory, but I wasn’t really sure. A couple with a baby in a harness walked by chuckling lightly. I did recall hearing that you should stand in the door sill if there’s an earthquake. I looked at the sky. No answers up there. I went back upstairs.
My phone rang. “Are you okay?” It was my sister. She’d heard there was an earthquake here. “I knew it!” I said, turning on the news. Gotdammit I knew it.
Same thing happened around ’81. I lay in bed Sunday morning hung over as usual. The bed shook. “Ma! My bed just shook! What was that? Oh my God!” “Sandee go back to sleep. Nothing’s shaking. It’s just you,” she sighed. Turned out, another earthquake had happened. Mom didn’t believe me. She thought I was having the shakes, the DTs – I know, it’s messed up, but that’s another blog post, maybe…
[Sing to Olivia Newton John’s Physical song] Let’s get metaphysical, metaphysical, I wanna get me-ta-phy-sicaaaaal! Let’s get into metaphysical [okay you can stop singing now] — Why do I feel the earth vibrating when others don’t? And my joke about that earthquake a day before it happened. ESP? Hmm…