When Japan is Right Next Door

Let me say right at the outset that I hate earthquakes. They scare the crap out of me. Just my luck to grow up in Southern California, one of the earthquake capitals of the world.

There are three in particular I remember. First, the San Fernando quake in 1971. My two older sisters and I were way underage, but one of them had hidden a bottle of booze in a dresser drawer. After the quake stopped, they both went running for the dresser, worried that the bottle might have broken.

The Whittier Narrows quake in 1987 happened while I was driving, so I didn’t feel it. I do recall riding out an aftershock gripping my younger son’s crib while the house shook. No fun for me, but my husband thought it was cool. Crazy guy likes earthquakes.

The Loma Prieta quake in 1989 was the worst of them all. No, that one wasn’t in Los Angeles. Its epicenter was up in the Bay Area. A double decker section of Interstate 880 collapsed, trapping hundreds. A section of the Bay Bridge also collapsed, although overall the damage wasn’t as bad as on I-880. Even so, I still get uneasy driving the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, not to mention the realization I’m driving into earthquake country.

When we moved to Northern California (thankfully before the Northridge quake in 1994), we settled in a wonderfully seismically stable area. Yes, we contend with wildfires in the summer, but at least the earth doesn’t move.

Japan is more than 5000 miles away from me. I’m well inland, so the tsunami that followed the earthquake had no impact on me. But I have a connection to Japan that makes the events there seem very personal. My older son lives in Osaka and teaches English there.

That’s Eric on the left with his friends Yusuke and Kae. Living in Japan was a dream of Eric’s since junior high, but I admit I passed it off as one of those things kids think they want to do but gets cast by the wayside when they grow up. But he never gave up on that dream and worked very hard to make it come true. He spent the last year and a half attending a Japanese language school and now is staying one more year in Osaka to teach English.

Skyping with him every week, hearing his stories of the neighborhood, seeing his pictures, hearing about the food he’s eaten and the temples he’s visited makes Japan seem much more real than just a country drawn on a map. We even stayed up until midnight one night so we could meet some of the people he works with and a couple of the kids he teaches. We spent most of the time on Skype laughing and smiling. It was clear they like my son very much.

So when a terrible event like the earthquake and tsunami happens, it hits hard. Yes, I’m grateful my son is safe in Osaka. But my prayers are with everyone in Japan, to those affected by the earthquake, those who have lost loved ones, those working hard to save others. God’s blessings to them all.

Click for the American Red Cross.

About karensandler

Lover of chocolate. A couple felines short of full-fledged Cat Lady. Author of the YA Tankborn Trilogy (TANKBORN, AWAKENING, and REBELLION), from Tu Books. Founding team member of We Need Diverse Books. Opinions expressed here are my own.
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2 Responses to When Japan is Right Next Door

  1. Pingback: When Japan is Right Next Door | karensandler | TEFL Japan

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