It was the first time I started my morning ritual but then stopped and just went back to bed. I got the coffee going, fed the animals, but it was still dark outside so I lay in bed another 20 minutes, showered and then went for the sofa, dozed until the sun came up.
Lily was up with a bowl of cereal stabbing the surface of it with her spoon, making an irregular scraping sound.
I signed on to work, pulled up the budget and sent some emails about it, then went out for a walk, snow on the trees from New Year’s eve.
And I remembered myself doing the same when I worked in SODO, all those days over lunch poking around the shipyards of downtown Seattle, the one time in my life I had to go to counseling because I was traumatized by an earthquake, the fact most normal people don’t take earthquakes so hard but for me it was an association with something else, two friends who lived in the apartment below us, the wife got in an accident outside Crater Lake and Chris had to hurry down, they were “air-lifting her out,” he said: I got an email and then he was gone and she was in a coma, and it wasn’t until the earthquake a few weeks later she came out of it; they removed her skull and put it on ice and she was wearing a helmet in the hospital, I’d never seen such a thing.
I got home after the earthquake and looked for the cats; they were deep in the crevice of the closet hunkered down: and though it had been a 6.8 it didn’t appear there was any damage, just a candle holder that fell off the mantel but the rubber tree broke its fall, there was a leaf on the floor to prove it.
And I knew I had voicemails on my phone but when it prompted me for a passcode I couldn’t remember—only four digits but it was gone from my head, I just sat there empty.
I got a call from my boss who said he wanted everyone in the next day, we were meeting at the old roasting plant a mile or so from the Starbucks HQ (they didn’t know if the office was safe to reenter); it’s where the company had its first headquarters in the ’80s, remnants of those days still on the walls—and when I got there the CEO was in his sweat pants and looked like hell, he just jumped out of bed and drove in: and we were worried about getting people paid on time because the systems were down and the email network too, we were having to use fax to communicate with the field leadership, and I wasn’t much use to anyone, I struggled with simple tasks.
When I saw the counselor the first time I explained things, how our friends had this bad accident and then with the earthquake, how I thought I was going to die under my desk, that it was like one of those dreams where you feel like you’re falling and if you land, that’s it.
And she said as a matter of fact, you’re grieving over your own death: and I thought how strange, that that was possible, to see ourselves from a distance like that, to step outside ourselves.
Around this time Dawn and I went to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: the chase scenes where they’re running across rooftops or through treetops in the jungle, how it looked like they were flying and I pictured myself on screen doing the same, learning to stand on my hands in yoga, flipping the world upside down: how someone called in to the radio to share her experience with the earthquake, that she was out in the garden and the earthworms shot straight up out of the ground—how odd it was to watch the earth ripple like that, like liquid, that something so firm and fixed as the earth really isn’t, and that’s hard to accept.
I walked to the lake to see the snow on the trees and thought of that version of myself all those years at work walking, how that person’s gone: but like the ancient cities, they just rebuild on the foundation of the last one layer by layer. And why I feel so keenly aware of my world, but strangely detached from it too.