Our couch seems to be quite sensitive to earthquakes. When we are sitting on it, we can often feel the shaking before we hear it or feel it when standing up. There are even times when my own heartbeat seems to make the couch shimmy a little, making me look up and listen for the telltale jingling of kitchen utensils hanging on the rack. A truck passing by will do the same.
Last night, while I was on the couch, catching up on some Japanese study, I started to feel the telltale shaking. Joan was canning marmalade in the kitchen about 12 feet away.
"Earthquake," I said loudly, getting to my feet. Joan stopped and turned toward me, both of us waiting, listening. Would it stop? Was it getting stronger?
It got stronger.
Joan cried out, "Richard!" "It's ok," I replied, trying to keep my voice calm.
The shaking got even stronger, with things starting to rattle on the shelves. Joan turned off the gas to the stove. I grabbed the cell phone, and we dashed down the hall to the bedroom. We paused next to the desk, waiting to see if it would calm down like it usually does. It didn't.
Joan kept imploring the earthquake, "Please, stop. Please, stop. Please, stop." I put my arm around Joan's shoulders and held her close. "It'll be ok. It'll be ok. It'll be ok," I answered.
Eventually, it did stop. There was a long pause, the whole city holding its breath. Then we could hear doors opening and people talking, checking in with each other.
We quickly got on the Internet, reading the twitter stream as reports poured in. Our usual Japanese language earthquake website was jammed up with traffic. It was a big one in the north. Poor bastards up there can't get a break.
Tsunami warning. We both started to cry.
However, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. The tsunami was quite small. Initial reports were only five people were injured. Eventually, everyone and everything settled down and got back to normal.
We love living in Japan, but these damn earthquakes really suck