Tomorrow will mark 4 months since the 7.0 earthquake violently shook my home. We’ve picked up most of the pieces by now. But there are still a few walls to paint after the sheetrock repair, a crumpled brick fireplace to mend when summer comes and one last cupboard to vacuum where shards of glass were hiding under pots and pans. But today I finally tackled the 18 pictures that fell from the wall and either broke their frames or broke the glass. They’ve been filed away under my desk for 4 months and for some reason, I couldn’t force myself to begin the process of taking them out of the frames and measuring the glass. When I laid the first three on the table, the glass shifted and pieces fell out on the table and floor, shattering. And it was this. I still cannot tolerate the sound of breaking glass. It was this sound, as the doorframe shook and creaked in my hands and I rocked back and forth in the darkness. This sound of glass falling and breaking all around me that felt like shards into my soul.
As I took out the broken pieces from the frame, I felt the glass edges and remembered all the small cuts on my fingers and hands as I picked up pieces and shards and fragments from the floor that morning as light finally came. I kept a lot of pieces that just had chips in them–reminders of that day that shifted something in me as the plates of earth shifted. Occasionally we still get a 4.0 aftershock even now. The seismologists told us to expect them for up to a year. When I hear them coming, everything pauses in anticipation and then the shock wave hits, I cringe, I wait. I wonder how big, how long. My two year old granddaughter still clutches her mother’s neck and yells, “No, no, no,” when the earth quakes again.
There has been a lot of talk of earthquakes this week. Two days ago marked the anniversary of the 1964 earthquake that devastated the state. Magnitude 9.2. So much more powerful than the one that rocked my world. Yet my husband, who experienced that quake as a boy, felt this one was in some ways much more violent.
Stores have re-opened in town now, but two schools remain closed for the year, if not permanently. There is a lot of road work to do this summer to complete repair from the earthquake as our two bridges were both damaged. And homeowners all over Eagle River are waiting their turn for the sheetrockers and foundation engineers and inspectors to fix their homes, several which went off their foundation.
It seems such a small thing to simply replace the glass in my pictures compared to all the destruction in this town. Yet each person holds in the cellular memory of their bodies that experience of solid ground no longer solid, no longer dependable. Cracks in the earth, cracks in the pictures, cracks in the soul.