Wow, it feels weird to write that. It has a different feel than "20 years ago," which makes it sound like ancient history, but 19 makes it sound fresh and recent.
19 years ago, I was sitting on the edge of my bed, getting dressed. I think it was a schoolday, although that didn't really matter, because my school was closed. When you go to Reynolds Christian Academy, and someone named Reynolds dies, it sort of shuts down the whole place.
The floor started to shake.
At first I thought it was the washing machine going into the spin cycle. Then the whole room started to warp like a shoebox. The sound was unreal. And the only thing I could think was: It's happening.
Everything from those little booklets jumped immediately to mind. My mind jumped to where the wrench was hanging in the kitchen, pre-adjusted to shut off the gas main. I knew where the safest place in the house was. The doorway, I had to get into the doorway. I threw my bathrobe around me and wobled dangerously towards the door, flinging it open to find my parents trying to open the back door. Page one of the booklet sprang to mind, and I took charge. I opened my mouth and screamed:
Even as things were still shaking, my parents both turned and gave me this look. I was certainly the greater oddity in this situation, far more so than the earthquake trying to knock us off our feet.
We spent a lot of that day in the backyard.
One lingering memory stays with me of that day: for almost a year afterwards, I woke up at 7:47 every morning. Exactly. To the minute. It amazes me to this day that the mind can be that accurate a timekeeper.