I’m from Toronto. The largest city-wide emergency I ever experienced was “The Blackout” about six years ago. I was without hydro for all of twelve hours, although some people went for days. But instead of feeling panicky, the city projected a wonderful vibe. It really was like a lovefest. I met new neighbours. Had wine on their porches and looked at the stars, which we could see for once. We all went for a walk on Bloor and witnessed the financial district re-lighting as if it were a thrilling spectacle planned just for us. And most of my friends have similar tales. A lot of good (even a marriage, but that’s another tale :)) came from some bad.
Now I live in San Francisco. When I delivered the lease for Paul’s and my apartment, I received an info kit that included a fact pack about being prepared for at least 72 hours of emergency. A bit cynical to the States’ constant orange-alert attitude, I immediately swapped in another “E” word for emergency: earthquake. Now THAT I could take heed of.
But somehow it didn’t stay in my mental landscape. Perhaps because I’ve lived most of my life on solid ground. My intentions were good. I left the checklist out so Paul and I would grab a Zipcar one day and get all of the essentials: large containers of water and lots of canned foods. You see, we have a very European approach to grocery shopping. We walk there together or one of us stops on the way home, since Whole Foods is just up the street. Every couple of days, we get a few things.
A while ago, I walked into one of our closets. (We have two awesome walk-in closets. One is even cedar-lined!) Beside the lone jug of water with which we had begun our preparations months ago, there was now company. Another jug. Plus a few cans. I called Paul over and was told I was actually in the “supplies closet.” He had sweetly and smartly thought of getting us prepared according to the way we usually shop. Now each time we go, he picks up a few extra cans or a jug of water to add to our supplies.
My contribution has been to keep a chunk of my birthday cash tucked away. We also relocated the large framed photos hanging over our bed. And moved the massive bookcase so that if crashes down, it won’t be on us while we’re sleeping.
It’s taken us almost a year, but we’re now prepared (kind of). That is, until I feel a teensy quake and my nerves fray. I didn’t even consider earthquakes when I was planning to move here. Crazy.