There is a rhythm to life. We work hard to encourage this rhythm by creating as much order as possible in a world that is famously disordered. Consequently, our lives are for the most part predictable. We awake at a certain hour, perform our daily hygienic repair, go to work, come home, have dinner, indulge in some form of mostly mindless entertainment, then go to bed, starting all over again in the morning. But every once in a while our routine gets rocked. Something unforeseen introduces itself, or even better, everything goes wrong. Nothing is as it should be. The unexpected , the disturbing and even the hilarious moments that occur during these times are the things of which memories are made. While I might never recall one thing that happened to me on 95% of all the days of my life, I’ll remember every detail of “ Bizarroday”. My latest Bizarroday was Tuesday, August 23, 2011.
Tuesday was our last day of preparation before heading down to Winston-Salem to move Kaitlin into her new home at Wake Forest University. First on the agenda was an unfortunate dental appointment. Kaitlin was found with cavity for the first time in 15 years the previous day and so had been scheduled for fillings on the earliest time slot on her last day in Richmond. After being thoroughly numbed on both sides of her mouth with Novocain, the dentist announced that all water had been cut to the building. Without water, no work could be completed so Kaitlin was sent home until further notice, still with cavities but now with a face that made her look like a stroke victim. The adorable crooked smile she was born with was now exaggerated to a freakish sag that gave her the suggestion of diabolical intent. Three hours later water was restored, fresh Novocian was administered, cavities were filled and she was sent home with now an entire face enshrouded in a painkilling glow and wiped clean of expression. When later Pam went into her room seeing the boxes and bare walls and started to tear up, Kaitlin turned towards her and slurred, “ Mom, I’m really smiling at you…you just can’t tell” Pam began to laugh, guardedly at first and then in full throated abandon as Kaitlin’s rubbery face tried to contort into a smile. Then out of nowhere, the ground began to shake.
The first earthquake of our lives hit at around 2 in the afternoon. Pam and Kaitlin froze in place and wondered aloud..”What was that??” For 30 seconds the china rattled, the windows rumbled and Pam, for the life of her couldn’t remember what to do in an earthquake so she shouted, “Lets get in the bathroom!!” Once out of harms way, Kaitlin tried to say..”What about Molly??”, but it came out as “ weribowlolly!” Amazingly Pam understood and about the time the shaking stopped all three of them were crowded safely in the downstairs bathroom. Meanwhile, I was across town picking up the U-Haul truck I had rented for the move. At the precise time of all the excitement I was concentrating intently on backing this ten foot truck into a tiny parking space at the furniture store where I had driven to pick up Kaitlin’s new sofa. I hadn’t felt a thing. When I got out of the truck I noticed people running from inside the store into the parking lot in wide-eyed terror. A 5.9 on the Richter scale quake with an epicenter 30 miles from where I stood had been felt as far away as Detroit and Boston, and I had missed it. After a few minutes order was restored and I stood calmly in line for my sofa when an attractive, young black man approached and engaged me in casual conversation:
“So…what did you buy?”
“My daughter is going to grad school this week so we picked up a sofa for her.”
“Where is she going to grad school?
“Wake Forest…down in Winston-Salem”
“Winston-Salem? I’m never ever going back to that town for nobody!!”
“Wh-.What? Whats wrong with Winston-Salem?
“ A friend of mine asked me to come for a visit so I did. You know where she lived? A house at the corner of Noose Street and Plantation Drive! No sir, never going back!”
By the time I got home with the truck all of the local news channels were on the case with live on the scene reports about the Great Earthquake of 2011. Anchors and anchorettes breathlessly gave us details confirming the rattling of dinner plates in china cabinets from Midlothian all the way to Hanover Courthouse. Reports began to trickle in of pictures hanging terribly askew on walls in the East End.
Some unconfirmed rumors came in describing scores of shattered knick-knacks in Wyndham. A young baby-faced reporter then broke in with live video from the actual epi-center in Mineral, Virginia. There on live television for all to see was the epic damage and desolation. Sixteen bricks lay haphazardly at the base of the chimney of a 100 year old house. We were assured that the residents of Mineral were a hardy bunch and that they were determined to overcome this blow. Just about the time I was starting to feel a bit more secure, channel 12 brought on an Earthquake Expert who warned us of the probability of “aftershocks”. Reeling, I escaped to the dreary comfort of Facebook where I saw that 8 of my Christian friends had posted that verse in Matthew about earthquakes being a sure-fire sign of the end times. From there I retreated to a Drudge Report story from some meteorologist who claimed that hurricane Irene now churning out near the Bahamas had the potential to make landfall as a category 6 storm that might wipe out all of the Outer Banks and cause upwards of 100 Billion in damage. When reminded that there are only 5 categories of hurricanes he responded, “After Irene, there will be 6”. I shut off the computer, walked back downstairs and heard a guy on TV reminding us to tune in after the 6 o’clock news for a special program…”Aftershock Horror..Day 1”
After we finished packing up the truck we had our last dinner together on the deck. It was a beautiful night and the meal was delicious. Kaitlin had her face back. Pam was tearing up again at the prospect of change. But we all looked back on this very bizarroday with fond memories. Oh that there were more days like this.