A certain day is fast approaching which will mark the 20th anniversary of one of the most significant events of my life: the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.
It’s difficult to believe it’s been 20 years since that terrifying day in which I was convinced I was going to die. It was my first -and only- life threatening experience and I was deeply impacted by its power.
In fact, my entire world changed as a result of it and now, unbelievable as it may seem, I am grateful to have had the experience. I might even admit it was a gift.
In order to understand the profundity of those statements it’s important to know what my experience was like from the moment it struck and the hours, days, months, and years that followed.
I was alone in my 2nd story apartment at White Oak and Lassen in Northridge. When the shaking started at 4:31 AM on Monday, January 17th, I was sleeping as were most L.A. residents. From the moment it started it was violent. I remember trying to stay on the bed with all my strength so as not to be thrown off (I found out later many people I knew were thrown off their beds). I was sitting up and holding on and hearing the loudest noise I have ever heard in my life. It was pitch black because the shaking had knocked out the electricity all over the entire city. I remember screaming at the top of my lungs and not being able to hear my own voice. I thought the entire city was being destroyed. After about 10 seconds of this nightmare I just sat looking up and waiting for the ceiling to fall on me, something I was certain would happen at any second. Even now, when I think back on it, I cannot believe the building didn’t actually fall (it was condemned later) but the fact that it didn’t collapse during the initial earthquake still shocks me today.
When the shaking finally stopped after about 20 seconds, which seemed like 20 minutes, I was sitting in total silence in complete darkness.
I didn’t know whether to try to get outside or just stay where I was. After a few seconds I decided to go out to the hall to see if anyone else was there. I felt a strong need to see another human being.
(Check back here tomorrow for Part 2)