So the girls and I were in the living room this afternoon, still doing school work after lunch...enjoying a nice change in locale from our usual kitchen-table-classroom. It was about ten minutes till 2, and we were just getting ready to do science. Since we switched to a computer-based science program, I was sitting on the couch with my laptop, getting the program started for Rachael. She was sitting beside me, and Milly was standing on my other side, being nosy as usual.
As the program loaded, we heard the glass in the skylights over our heads start to rattle. This happens sometimes - usually during a storm, when it's really windy. But it certainly wasn't storming outside, and a quick glance out the door told me that there was no wind stirring either.
And that's when the couch started vibrating. Rather insistently.
Actually, the whole house seemed to be shaking. Picture frames rattled a bit on the shelves, but the whole couch issue was the most unnerving. Our couch had never vibrated before?!
My first thought was, of course, "earthquake." But we simply do not have earthquakes in Virginia.
My next thought was that an airplane was clearly going to crash into our house at any second. But since there was no crashing, and everything was still moving, I told the girls to go and stand in a bedroom doorway. (No, things were not rattling that much. But somehow, I remembered from some book that I'd read - probably years ago - that that was the thing to do during an earthquake.) So they went to stand in safety, and I...went to look out the door. As if I was going to see something that would clue me in.
By the time they headed up the stairs and I stood up to move, the shaking had stopped. All in all, it lasted for about twenty seconds. By the time I mentally convinced myself that yes, this was very likely an earthquake, it was gone.
I still didn't believe it completely, so I turned on the TV to a local news channel. No mention of an earthquake.
So I did what any sane person would do, and went to Facebook instead. There, I discovered that I was not imagining the shaking - lots of other people felt it too, and not just my local friends. An old school friend in Winston-Salem, NC. People in northern Virginia. Someone in Ohio. Reports from New York. Even a friend in Toronto!
Holy cow, not only did I not imagine it, but this thing was BIG! So big that I furtively glanced at the sky to make sure that this was not actually part of the second coming, and already regretting my decision to spend the day in pajamas in case it was. You know, it just wouldn't do to meet your Savior in a t-shirt and flannel pants.
Anyway, news reports started flooding in, several minutes after everyone else in the world confirmed the earthquake via Facebook statuses. It was centered in northern Virginia and labeled a 5.8 earthquake.
It was no time at all before I found this picture online, labeled "D.C. Earthquake Devastation":
Oh, no question - we will rebuild.
Of course, our piddly little 5.8 quickly became the subject of jokes from people in areas where they get real earthquakes. California and Hawaii peeps, especially. My sister-in-law in San Francisco was remarkably understanding - she was a Virginia girl herself once, and probably remembers her first earthquake rather vividly.
Yes, it took a few minutes after the ground stopped shaking for me to stop shaking. Truthfully, it was the idea of an earthquake that was scarier than the trembling that we actually felt.
Still, I'm in no hurry for another one. California can keep them, thanks. Virginia may be prone to tornado warnings and a little wind and rain on the tail end of a hurricane, but at least we have some warning that those things are coming. I'd prefer my ground - and my couch - to stay put.