It was shortly after 9am, and I, still (of course !) in my nightie and dressing-gown, had just put the dishwasher on. I was wondering idly if I could shower while the dishwasher was on, when the world changed.

For half a second I thought I was dizzy; and for another half second I wondered why ..

And then I understood that I was being shaken to and fro, to and fro .. Things were sliding about, and the fern on the plant-stand next to me tried to throw itself off; but a part of my brain functioned automatically – the part not frozen in terror – and I caught it. I was screaming “What’s happening ? What’s HAPPENING ?” because, once having saved the fern, the same brain section was telling me that the building, erected by a company not admired in the construction industry, was imploding ..

I don’t have the ability to explain the experience of standing in a top floor (7th storey) apartment, alone, as the floor under one’s feet MOVES, quite violently .. as the building becomes, suddenly, unstable .. I’ve only once before in my whole life felt a fear like that; and that was nothing to do with Mother Nature but with my utterly beloved husband in a car, in France, so far removed from the brilliantly clever man he had always been by the crab that was eating him, trying to drive towards me around the corner of a house – a slope away to nothing on his right and stopped by only a small ridge of bricks that had caught the wheels .. I believe that, yesterday, it was the memory of this blind terror in my situation of total inability to do anything that my brain had instantly thrown up ..

And then I un-froze. There were bangs as things fell over; but I managed to scorch into the bedroom, reef back the duvet and seize Boodie. He, sound asleep, was incensed when so rudely grabbed, and would have struggled free; but I, powerful in my terror, thrust him into his carrier, threw its long belt over my neck, grabbed my keys and was out of the apartment in a heartbeat. By now the building had stopped moving, but the fear was omni-present; for who could know that it would not start again ..?

My next-door neighbours were there, as they had been the other week when we all suffered five false fire alarms between midnight and 9am, with Andrea waiting to take Boodie from me so that I could properly negotiate the seven storeys of fire stairs. (Please note that we did this only the first time during the alarms, and simply rolled our eyes during the next four.) And, as everyone now knows, there were no more tremors.

Once down on the ground I found that my legs were trembling even though it wasn’t. Having found Oanh among the crowd, carrying her beautiful little daughter Annabelle, and kissed her and given her a one-armed hug, I eventually had to walk around to the front of the building to find a place to sit down ..

I’ve never regretted being old the way I did then.

And I can’t explain this, either.


32 thoughts on “Earthquake

  1. Oh my goodness, M-R, I’m so sorry! I know very well what you experienced, having been in many earthquakes, a few significant ones damaging our home. We actually experienced one last week, and although small in comparison to your experience, my body always reacts as though I expect more to come! It’s hard to explain to people who haven’t had this literal terror how scary it is, and how long after the brief shaking our nervous systems react. After one particularly bad one I couldn’t go down the frozen food section in our grocery stores because of the suction on the doors in the freezer compartments and the sound they’d make. There is definitely a sound to earthquakes! I’d start shaking! All to say, I’m just so sorry to hear that you’ve had this scary experience on your upper floor apartment. I am only in a one story home and it’s scary enough. I hope that this one is “it” for a good long time! Enough!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Deb, I feel stupid whingeing about it when you guys have to put up with it so often ..
      But it actually didn’t occur to me at the time that it was an earthquake ! – simply because I had no idea that Melbourne had ever had one !
      I think that’s what made it extra terrifying ..
      Anyway – off to my ground-floor flat next Wednesday, thank goodness !


  2. This is bizarre! But I guess it can happen. Apparently it was felt as far away as Canberra. Pity that you got the brunt of it and not the pollies …..
    Glad you are okay. But are they going to inspect the building?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Hannah !! – I’m fine, although there’s a kind of sneaky anxiety in my hind-brain ..
      Still, as I said to a wonderful crocheting genius – a Pom ! – this-morning, I won’t be quite as terrified if it happens again. Thing was, I was totally ignorant of Melbourne’s ever having had an earthquake, so my instant reaction was that the building was falling down ..

      Liked by 1 person

        • You are most thoughtful, Maggie ! :)
          My new Property Manager is a young woman called Monique; and she is updating me frequently regarding various improvements being done there – window-sills repainted, new split system installed and so on. For reasons I am sure no-one can take in, she seems to like me !
          Basically, she’s looking after both the flat and its future inhabitant. Yaaaaaay !!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Margie! Wow! (I only noticed this post late last night.) I had no idea how big it had been. Quel drame! So thankful you’re ok, but what an interesting story you wrote about it. Looking forward to reading your thoughts about your new place soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Patrick – quel drame indeed !
      I wish I had been able to put down exactly what went through my mind: it would have been a good piece of writing. But it would’ve had to be done more or less immediately; and I was incapable of sufficient concentration. Missed my one opportunity, then .. :\

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, how terrifying M-R. Well, you probably feel very glad that your new home is ground floor in a low-rise.

    You ended with: I’ve never regretted being old the way I did then. / And I can’t explain this, either.
    I can. I think events like that make us realise that as older people we are more vulnerable and do, or will soon, need the help of others. I love bushwalking but I am so much more nervous now of falling. I do not want to fall, because who knows what will happen if I do. In my younger years, I didn’t want to fall because I didn’t want to hurt myself but I never thought that hurt would be anything more than a temporary inconvenience. Now, though …

    Anyhow, I’m sorry I didn’t read this sooner, but I seen others more attentive did. I look forward to hearing about your move and new glorious place across the road from W!

    Liked by 1 person

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