I always associated those words (which in this case can only be written in caps, as in MAY DAY!) with bombardment or the like, once even waking up at five in the morning to run through the house shouting it. It's no doubt I was a weird kid, but it turns out it's not just the distress signal but an old communist holiday, something like labor day. Who knew?
But this 1 May did indeed come in with a bang, kind of. Lately I've been waking up between five and six in the morning before going back to sleep a little while longer, but this Sunday as I (was) woke(n) up I realized my bed was shaking. It happened really fast, but I remember putting my hand on the mattress to feel and thinking that specifically: is my--is my bed shaking?? And I heard something rattling so I looked toward the window to see if I could see anything and jumped out of bed to better feel, but by then I think it had stopped.
Right after, I went into the hallway and it turns out my roommate was up, too. I asked her if she'd felt anything and sure enough--cutremur, an earthquake, she said. I've read several different reports, but the one linked said it was a 4,9 so we're not talking about anything big at all. In fact, almost everyone I talked to slept through it. But it was the first one I've been through. The one thing I'm surprised about is that it didn't scare me--not because it was an earthquake, but because I woke up to my bed shaking. My bed shaking. In the dark, alone at night. If that isn't something straight out of some scary movie about haunted houses and all that, then I don't know what is, and that stuff is just straight-up traumatizing to me. When I say that one of the top three reasons to get married one day is not having to sleep alone in the dark (someone to check out the scary noises), I'm being totally serious.
Anyway, the next day my Romanian professor and I talked about it. Usually a good hour of the lesson is us talking about history or some other subject of interest and she told me about the big earthquake here in '77. She was on the tram so she didn't feel it, which one the one hand is understandable because generally public transit here is bumpy, and on the other I can hardly believe it because this particular earthquake was a 7,2. But all of a sudden the tram stopped, the electricity had stopped, and in the buildings they could see the lights swinging back and forth. And then later they saw people running out of the hospital, screaming and acting crazy, and they still had no idea what had happened. Eventually someone told them and as the tram kept going (public transit was apparently still running) and they got closer to downtown, they saw all the collapsed buildings. I can't even imagine--hurricanes, yes. Earthquakes? It's so foreign to me. But then I live here now, so we'll see.
We talked about how people reacted. She kept saying that it seemed, before they realized what had happened, like people were acting like wild animals, running into the streets screaming. So different from how they reacted in Japan, and then that turned into a discussion about how people responded versus how they did in New Orleans after Katrina. How much do socio-economics factor into things like this? Those kinds of questions. A fascinating conversation.
I'll tell you, though, it's a weird feeling. Probably every day I feel more shaking on the metro, but to be four stories up where everything is always still--actually I tried to go back to sleep before church, but every time my alarm went off (my phone was in the bed with me) the vibrating would wake me up and even though it wasn't nearly as strong, I kept thinking, is it another? Crazy stuff.