“Where I’m from, they name storms after women,” I said to him one day. “It’s because only a woman can ravage so swiftly, so completely,” Years later, he would tell me this was when he first realized he was in love with me.
It was summer and you were sleeping when the first quake hit. I lay awake in bed, lulled by your sighs and snores. As the walls shook and the ceiling turned to powder, I realized every feeling of safety, of security – it all flew out the window as soon as the earthquake hit. I shook you awake and told you we needed to run but you just turned up the covers and went back to sleep.
I guess that’s what it’s always been like – me with my head in the clouds, you with your feet on the ground. I tell you what I see – rumbling in the clouds, howling in the mountains, a lone man screaming TSUNAMI!!! at the top of his lungs. You say there’s nothing there. That it’ll all pass. I come back down and put in one final protest. With a single kiss, you shush me and there is nothing left to do but be still.
You can prepare all you want for an earthquake – pack a bag, pitch a tent, stock up on canned goods and batteries, but you can never be truly prepared for when it first hits you. The ground shook violently giving birth to demons who didn’t know anything except to take, to separate, and to destroy.
The first fights shook us, as we thought it would. But we managed to survive them, hands clasped and ready. When the earthquake finally came, it brought us to our knees. I still see you, fear in your eyes, the veins in your neck bulging as you told me to hold on to you. I see your outstretched arms, your fingers far apart like a fan as you tried desperately to hold on to me. I somehow managed to cut through the crowd as I flung my body towards yours. We ran as far away as we could.
We thought the worst was over. We thought we’d found a safe place in each other’s arms. But it’s the aftershocks, not the earthquake, that are often more treacherous. They lasted for days. They threatened to destroy the little that remained. Many bridges and roads that survived our earthquake ended up getting destroyed by the tiniest quivers. The tremors began in equal intervals – one in the morning and one at night. A push here, a pull there, I believed we grew stronger each time. But anything stretched too thinly is bound to break apart. I pulled you closer to my body during each aftershock, resigned that if we were to die, at least we’d be together. I didn’t know that life had other plans; didn’t know you had other plans. That’s what it was like to hold on to you.
We were running, the air thin and crisp. Our lungs burned as we sped through the city’s broken streets. When you’re on the run, all you ever think about is how to make it out alive. Your instincts kick in and there is nothing but surviving, nothing but the next safe place to be. It was too late when I realized that you’d let go of me. For 4 weeks, I waited for you to come back for me but you never did. I searched the rubble for your scent, for our memories, for a clue.
I struggled to maintain my balance as the earth shook. Something told me I would find you buried beneath the rubble. My hands bled as I lifted broken pieces of concrete and my heart off the ground. Again. And again. And again. When my strength finally left me, I fell to the ground and closed my eyes. Then, as clear as day, your voice whispered in my ear. This was how you said goodbye.
You once told me they named storms after women where you’re from. But why don’t they name earthquakes? If they did, I’d tell them to name one after you. You who brought the tremors, you who shook me to the core – your fault line ran deep in my heart.
The ground shook violently, giving birth to the demons that pulled you away from me. There is anger. There is blame. There is jealousy. There is neglect. There is blissfully tender, angry fucking. As my heart shook and all the lives we haven’t lived turned to powder, I realized that every feeling of safety, of security, every happy moment we’ve ever had – it all flew out the window when you left.
♫: Jewel | Enter From The East (1998)