Stories from Mom: My first earthquake

"Me and your Dad were in the bedroom and we would put an ice cube on my stomach and you’d kick if off.” Mom's shoulders shook with each exhale of her laughter. “We were laughing so hard. We’d put another on and you’d kick that one off too. And then the earthquake came and you could see the ceiling of the apartment just shifting. It was crazy.”


Mom had told me this story before, but it’s one of my favorites. I could see her and Dad in their early twenties — young and in love — lying in her bed as Dad put ice cubes on her pregnant belly. The afternoon sun coming in through the window putting a warm glow over the whole scene. I can see the faint dust particles like snow flakes dancing in the air through the gold light. Mom’s room was probably a mess as it always is and there was probably a cup of half gone cold coffee next to the bed from earlier that day.

She was probably wearing one of Dad’s flannels with only a couple of the buttons fastened over her breasts and the bottom of the shirt fell open over her belly. The flannel would be so long it would look more like a dress and Mom would forego wearing pants all together. Dad was probably wearing old blue jeans full of holes and dark stains from working on cars and a tank tops that showed off his brown shoulders.

Mom’s laugh fills the room as I kick off the cold ice cube. It’s feminine, but sturdy and real, like it’s coming deep down in her diaphragm. Dad’s laugh is loud and full. It swallows up every ounce of silence that Mom’s laugh may have missed, layering over top of hers. Their laughs intertwine together, expanding the room to hold them both.

The earth began to quake and the ceiling shifts from a straight, level line to a uneven slope where the house had ebbed and flowed with the earth below it. I can see the melting ice cubes surrounding Mom and Dad, all melting in unison in the sunflower colored light. I can imagine the shaking and shifting felt like minutes but it was probably only a few seconds. I can see Mom turning to Dad saying, “That was cool” in her ever so classic way about her. Dad of course responding by softly shaking his head.