Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wrong place at the right time

This is unrelated to my normal posts about fashion or yoga or whatever I normally write about...I was talking with a coworker the other day about that tornado that blew through Westchester & Fairfield counties about a month ago. For about 10 minutes, the sky was so black that if you were standing outside, I would venture to say that you literally, could not see your outstretched hand. Cars pulled over because their headlights glow seemed to be sucked into a blackhole rendering them useless. My 58 year old coworker said he has never seen anything like that. I actually have, I said. In 1980 when I was camping with my mom, her boyfriend and my brother. It was early morning on a Sunday and we were going to find a place to picnic before packing up and leaving from our weekend away. There was a Sonic Boom and nearby campers looked up to watch for the jets...nothing happened. About 15-20 minutes later we saw a black sky looming in what looked to be a wall of dust. Within 30 minutes, it was snowing a black ash from upside down mushrooms overhead and only a sliver of sky was exposed along the horizon and it shimmered like silver - contrasted against the black sky, the brightness almost burned your eyes the way an eclipse would. We hurridly packed up the van after learning from the radio reports that Mt. St. Helen's blew. We drove in blackness feeling the road more than seeing it and found a small town where the sole gas stations attendant sent us to the town church. We stayed at the pastors home for a week until the roads were clear enough to get home.

I forgot about that until the other managers response was that I was lucky to be alive. I shrugged my shoulders thinking about other events:

I was thinking about other events that seem to surprise people (i.e. bar stories) - I was living in LA in 1987 and rode through a 6.5 quake in the fall and went to Tiajana for a weekend with friends and were awoken by a 7.2 earthquake that was epicentered less than 10 miles from the apartment. Both earthquakes were so intense that you could do nothing but grasp the floor and even then, it would be pulled from you only to return a moment later. I saw a lamp and doorways rock back and forth to 45-degree angles only to return to their upright positions when the shaking stopped. The rumbling was so loud our screams could barely be heard. I will never forget the silence that follows an earthquake

My fiance and I were living in a condo a couple blocks down from Pike Place Market in 1999. WTO was happening and riots broke out up the block - our apartment smelled of pepper spray to the point that I was worried for our dog, Betty. (the vet said she would be fine just don't take her outside). After the terrorist threat on the Space Needle, we took off for Winthrup where we eloped over the New Years holiday. On our return, we headed over Stevens pass and were caught in a huge snow storm without proper tires. There was absolutely nowhere to turn around or pull over and the passing cops made us keep going. We slid several times into snow banks, had an SUV slam into us and had a near miss with a cliff. The cops drove by again and told us to keep going (refusing to give us a tow or ride - bastards). Hours later we had gone only a couple miles. I found a place to pull over and off in the distance was a 20 something guy running after us down the hill. He saw us as he was going up the mountain to snow board and he grabbed his chains and ran after us. He put them on our car and we were able to get home. I asked for his number to return them or send him money and his response was that of a saint "Do something nice for someone else".

I suppose the ultimate miss was living in New York in 2001. I was in the Bronx and Paul at home on 26th street. The kindness of strangers in that city never ceased to amaze me and it was even more so in the weeks following.

I've never thought that I was fortunate because things happen in life and sometimes, it is those things that remind one of how precious it is. And for me, how a life with few suprises isn't so bad.



Blogger Diana Crabtree said...

Wow! That is all I can think of to say. I guess like you said, remember how precious life is!

1:15 AM  

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