When an Earthquake Isn’t the Only Thing Shaking Up Life

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IMG_5977I can’t really say there was a beginning or an end, it happened so fast. The side table lamp rattled a too-late warning, then the bed shook quick and hard like a wet dog. I stay frozen on top of the cozy comforter, gripping the laptop balancing against my thighs to keep it from sliding to the floor. My mind races: run to a doorway? Grab the kids? Where are my shoes? Seconds later it’s over. Earthquake.

“Hey!” I yell in the direction of my open bedroom door. “Did you guys feel that?”

No one answers. The house is quiet for a Sunday afternoon. Just half an hour before it’d been chaos: one kid sugared up from a birthday party, another wandering around the house singing with her ear buds in and the third one complaining about having to babysit in the evening. I’d snuck up to my bedroom in search of alone time, a treasure that eludes me more on weekends than any other days of the week. Now, alone in my room, the afternoon sun slanting through the window, I wonder, where did everyone go? Am I the only one who felt the earth cracking?

Or maybe it was me cracking.

These days are full of overwhelm. School is ending in a few weeks. My daughter’s bat mitzah is happening in a month. My three gorgeous girls drive me crazy and there are entire days when I just don’t want to do this motherhood gig anymore. I start wondering how I got here in the first place or if, when I delve into my purse for the car keys, I’ll actually find them the first time instead of a day old cheese stick or a forgotten permission slip or a little person’s sweater stained with chocolate milk. I wonder why everyone has cancer and when I’ll get it and every morning around 10 a.m., I wonder what’s for dinner and realize with absolute clarity that I. Don’t. Care. Eat cake. Eat pretzels. Fend for yourselves children, husband, dog.

I can’t tell if I’m on shaky ground or if it’s really me doing the shaking.

I loved my 8th grade Earth Science class. The idea that the earth is in perpetual states of upheaval and settling, molten in places and solid in others, thrilled me. Even as I walked across the same old concrete pathway to my next class, the earth shifted and slid miles beneath my feet. Mountains were in the works, deep ocean volcanoes readying to erupt. Rocks were being repurposed, some crushed to dust, others fused together, part of a greater ambition. New material spewed forth, ready to take shape.

Change happens. Sometimes it takes millennia, sometimes decades and sometimes only seconds. Now, in my 40s, as my girls cross their own growth lines, I’m thinking this is a good thing, this shaking and shifting. Scary, but good. I don’t need or want to get rid of it all – I do know I have a good life – but I am ready to make room for new ways and words to take form.

I wander downstairs and out the front door. My oldest child sits on the lawn in her jean shorts and tank top, weaving together a daisy chain. White, pink and magenta blooms lay scattered at her bare feet. The sun glints off her golden head. She could be a Renaissance angel.

She looks up and smiles, shielding her eyes with her hand. “Hey mom, did you feel that earthquake?”

You bet I did.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the prompt, “No one was around when it happened…” This week’s FTSF is hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, me (this week’s sentence thinker-upper) here at Flingo and Jessica from Ramblings of an add mommy

41 thoughts on “When an Earthquake Isn’t the Only Thing Shaking Up Life

  1. I think we must be situated on the same fault line, Lisa, because I’ve felt this shaking too, deep inside. Thank you for your beautiful prose and this:

    “I don’t need or want to get rid of it all – I do know I have a good life – but I am ready to make room for new ways and words to take form.”

    All I can say is Yes ❤

    With heart,
    Dani

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  2. Love, love this. I’m remembering an actual earthquake that happened a few years ago – very rare for Maryland. The kids felt it with me. I’m remembering the tremors I’m feeling as I anticipate all the changes that will happen in my life in the next year, five years, ten. I’m definitely shaking – want to hold onto one another?

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  3. Lisa you poured out such genuine feelings via the earth’s natural rumble. I agree we all are in a phase of our lives where all we want is stability, but then tomorrow is so uncertain and that makes us all so fragile.

    Let’s just enjoy the moment and be grateful of each minute ticking by!
    xoxo

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  4. I absolutely LOVE this Lisa!! You are my new favorite writer!! Oh, how you described the tumultuous turns and shifts and revelations so perfectly… I held on to every word, as if they were my own.

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  5. I remember the first earthquake that I experienced. I wasn’t sure what was going on. Why was everything moving back and forth like that? It left me edgy and uncertain for quite some time. But eventually I got back to my center. Which happened with you as well, although you are quite lucky to have an angel in your house to help you get centered!! Best of luck with the Bat Mitzvah!

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  6. I’ve never been through an earthquake as we’re sufficient numbers of miles from the edge of any tectonic plates that I just think it wouldn’t happen. Floods and rain and the occasional wind-storm, sure, but nothing too scary.

    Your life sounds as though it’s going through quite the upheaval, and I couldn’t tell whether it was your circumstantial landscape or your emotional landscape where the tremors originated, but either way, I hope you have a table to hide under until the quaking passes, and that in the meantime you’re able to focus on doing the things which need to get done.

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      1. I’m cheering you on from here, laptop a-zinging…

        (P.S. Not sure what ‘a-zinging’ really is, but it seemed to fit (just go with it, m’kay?))

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  7. Love this analogy and such a beautiful image of Ella sitting in the grass. I haven’t felt any of the earthquakes… but they’re definitely happening :). Thank you for this great sentence and for hosting FTSF xxx

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  8. Love this! I relate the children growing and changing too. Some days my son can take my breath away by saying something heartfelt and mushy – while he crushes me the next moment by complaining about the way I make his sandwiches… I never seem to know what I’m going to get. Beautiful ending. 🙂

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    1. Thank you Laura. Yep, the kids definitely keep us on our toes. I keep reminding myself “You are the adult here, you are the grown up,” because, honestly, sometimes I just want to respond back to them like a cranky four-year-old or a disgruntled tween myself!

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  9. Wow, I love this Lisa! I cracked up about the day old cheese stick in your bag. I’ve got that and pairs of little boy underwear in mine. But yes, things are always moving, the earth, our bodies, our children, our lives.

    Good luck with the busy season ahead.

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  10. I have been through many earthquakes, living in Southern California. As scary as they are, there’s always a little bit of a thrill – like what will happen next? Sort of like changes in life, you know?

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  11. I try not to think about cancer but I do and heart attacks. I can’t bare knowing that my mom is older than when her mother died and about a 10 years from the age her father died. Death, and illnesses has got to be THE hardest thing about being an adult. I haven’t been to enough funerals to be accustomed to it and I don’t know if that’s even a thing to be accustomed to it. So glad you weren’t the only one to feel the quake. I also hate thinking about dinner. I am convinced that it’s harder for women to lose weight because we constantly have to think about food.

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    1. I agree with you Kenya about death and illness creeping into our lives more and more in our adulthood. We’re just so much more aware of our mortality and what we have to lose I suppose. I’m intrigued by what you say about it harder for women to lose weight because we’re constantly having to think about food — I think you’re right!

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  12. Wow, I loved this! I can relate to so much of it, especially the paragraph about life being full of overwhelm. So glad you were able to take a little breather and regroup with your girls.

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  13. I agree that the shaking and shifting of life is both scary and good. It’s the natural progression of things. I don’t know if I can say the same thing about an earthquake, but part of the world we live in I suppose.
    I sometimes worry about cancer. I’m a little younger so I’m not yet at the point where a lot of my peers have it, but my mom has lost too many friends in her life from it, and it freaks me out.
    Beautiful post, stopping by from FTSF. Thanks for co-hosting, and for coming up with the topic!

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    1. Great to “meet” you here! It’s easier to deal with the shakes and shifts if I can see them as part of the bigger fabric of life rather than jarring jolts. Will check out your FTSF!

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  14. Absolutely evocative and on the money. I’m right there with you feeling that tremor. Ouch. I’m in Vancouver where we are supposedly overdue for “the big one.” I must update the earthquake kit. Thank you for the reminder. And yes, surely it was just yesterday that I dropped my daughter off at the grade one classroom door. How is it that she’s 21 and touring New York on her own? And my son. He’s 19 and towering over me. It seems just like three years ago that I was lifting him onto the counter so he could help me stir the batter…Ah the changes. They’re both good and alarming.

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    1. It must be very nostalgic having your kids home Kelly. I can’t imagine that feeling of having them gone then back again for visits only. I joke that I’m moving to whatever town they end up in for college. Ha ha! As for feeling the tremors that’s happening for real and emotionally all the time.

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  15. As a geologist, I especially love this part:

    “The idea that the earth is in perpetual states of upheaval and settling, molten in places and solid in others, thrilled me. Even as I walked across the same old concrete pathway to my next class, the earth shifted and slid miles beneath my feet. Mountains were in the works, deep ocean volcanoes readying to erupt. Rocks were being repurposed, some crushed to dust, others fused together, part of a greater ambition. New material spewed forth, ready to take shape”

    I too, loved my 8th grade science class!!!! I’m always glad to hear when people have positive experiences in science education. I remember we had a substitute 8t grade science teacher once, who, in hindsight, seemed kind of bitter. She taught us the formula for Antimony, Sb. She said, “Antimony is like the alimony the -S-on of a -B-itch doesn’t pay.” I’ve never forgotten the formula for antimony, in any case.

    But i digress. Back to your prose. How beautiful to read your metaphors and get to share your consciousness/awareness that shaking, shifting and repurposing is a normal part of life, geologically speaking AND humanly speaking!

    Rock on!

    XO

    Nancy

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  16. So gorgeous as always Lisa. I wonder why everybody has cancer and when I’ll get it, too. My birth mom, my son’s teacher, I almost feel weird having boobs, anymore. The cheese in your purse. I went to Mills College for a year and remember an earthquake, when the walls wiggled and seemed to be of jello rather than drywall. Thank you for today’s sentence and for co-hosting.

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