Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, a heavy cat jumped up on our bed. It sort of danced around by our feet, like it was chasing a rat. But we don't have a cat, and we certainly don't have a rat, and as I was processing that (and thus trying to processing what was scurrying across the bed), I heard---no, it was more like I felt----about 20 weighty rats run across the floor beneath the bed, and along the attic above our heads. I heard the wrought iron gate door shaking, and I thought (wide awake now, my heart in my throat, my repulsion about to overwhelm my confusion), O my God a scurrying is taking over the world. But even in the dark, amongst the confusion, I knew that 20 rats could not just materialize in our room, at least not out of the corner that they seemed to be arriving from.
I woke M. who, like any good husband, will sleep through a rat invasion, a baby crying, or even another world war if it ever comes to that. "M.," I whispered. "We're having an earthquake!" He rolled over, mumbling something about the Rift Valley being far enough away. (It was happening in Tanzania actually, where, unlike Japan where it's also happening, there are no nuclear reactors.)
It's 16 hours later, but few moments ago, the desk quivered beneath my computer. It's awfully unsettling, feeling that the ground beneath your feet could simply split open and devour you. It's unsettling to question one's faith in the very stability of the earth. Though I suppose it could be interpreted symbolically: we're flying to the States in a few days---having not been home in over a year---and everything feels a bit shifty, in a way, like the ground beneath our feet is trembling.
Which it is.