Sitting on the floor, toys strewn about, in a house not my own.
I was with my teaching partner, MT, when the Earth decided to move. MT and I only rarely do home visits together, but this past Tuesday, we were sitting on the concrete slab floor of subsidized housing assessing a little boy’s developmental progress.
My world was decidedly rocked.
In a moment, everything before me turned in to visual waves. The curtains, the TV, the rug became flowing linear lines that shimmered like waves on a Spectrograph. I asked MT if she saw it. “What? See what?” she said. The movement suddenly changed. I revised and asked MT if she felt it. MT paused and our eyes met. Her look of concern acknowledged that something was not quite right. We both waited to see what would happen next.
The motion intensified and then suddenly stopped. We quickly and reassuringly dismissed it, “Maybe, the neighbor was playing music with the bass too high”. But the dismissal did not fit.
My cell phone started ringing. It was my daughter from Virginia calling. “Did you feel the Earthquake up there?” she said, “It rocked our office building, but everyone is all right.” Fear and relief claimed my consciousness at the same time. An Earthquake. All was well but could have been worse.
The little boy we were assessing suddenly began to cry. His response to the environmental shift was pure and unedited. MT reached for her phone and called her mother to check on her son. We left the visit a bit shaky feeling decidedly off-balance. We called the office and family and friends. It was jarring to learn that some people had not felt the quake at all.
That Tuesday evening, I remained uneasy and unsettled by my earthquake experience. I was unable to roll with the events of the day. I thought about the distance that separates me from my daughter especially when thinking about what might’ve happened. Other recent earthquakes kept coming to mind. My daughter had known a college friend living in Japan when the quake hit there.
Mostly, I thought about Fate and how it sets people together or apart at critical moments in life. For the most part, we don’t get to choose. I wondered, what if this afternoon had been the last of my life. I considered my company at the time of the quake, MT and a 2-year-old toddler named NG.
MT is gifted at being a teacher, a mother and my friend. We most always enjoy the toddlers and the families we visit. Today had been no exception. NG had made his silly “Thinker” face. His favorite since it always makes the grownups laugh. MT and I smile and laugh and sing with our students. We really do have some pretty fine play skills. That thought made me smile as did the next . . . It would have been okay with me to leave this plane in such fine company.
Sitting on the floor, toys strewn around, in a house not my own… with my teaching partner, MT. I would’ve been honored to be in such good company.
……Just wanted to let you know MT