It’s a 12.01
Monday September 08th 2014, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

The slant of the lowering sun, just in that moment of the day, makes the shadow look so much bigger than the real thing.

And yet sometimes you just need to grab whatever pushes you to get the thing done and we wanted it done. We’d had it years before, till college tuitions and the like got in the way. Now was the time. Chris-the-agent and I exchanged emails and details Friday till well after five till I told him, hey, go have a weekend.

There was a 4.2 (oh wait, they’ve downgraded it to 4) forty miles from our kids Sunday night. The earth was antsy and so were we. Several little ones on the Hayward fault–that’s the East Bay-side faultline that all their hospitals are built within yards of and I think their water mains, too. Tell the people of the 1950’s: science. It keeps you from doing stupid things. You don’t just bulldoze the cracks and call it the cheap land.

One of our outside five gallon water storage containers got chewed through by a critter; drought, I guess, I need to recycle that one. The ironic thing is, the Napa quake seems to have upended underground water into the creeks there that so need it.

I went through the pages of forms again, writing in details like the diagonal bracing we found in the framework of the house when we remodeled years ago–cool, that was better than current code and this is a sixty-year-old house–and we both signed the papers.

Then I called ahead and drove over.

Chris was one of the first people I met in California 27 years ago but he wasn’t in today. But they all work together and the receptionist motioned me to Sandy’s office; I remembered her well.

Except that’s not the name she said.

Me, hesitating a moment: Does Sandy still work here?

She, with a look of oh, you don’t know, then…  “Sandy died. She had cancer and passed in November.”

But…but…! I just stopped there a moment, stunned. I told her I was so sorry. I told her it was taking me a moment to process, and she nodded, understanding, and added a few details so I would know.

I hadn’t known. I hadn’t done anything. And she’s… Well crum. I mean, what else can you say. Crum. I’m sorry.

Finally, into Sandy’s office, where the new-to-me guy’s young children’s pictures were on the shelf and we got down to business. Tell me, what is this about not covering masonry. That means my chimney, right? Not just stonework? (Which I don’t have.) Chimneys are what break most, aren’t they?

They do. Which is why almost nobody covers them in quake insurance anymore.

(Oh lovely.) What if it shatters my solar panels as it falls apart? (Said while suddenly glad they were at a distance from each other.)

“That’s a gray area.”

(Color me concerned.)

And yet. An aunt whose house was a half mile from the epicenter of the Loma Prieta got the full value on her $350k earthquake policy, and she needed it all. A tiny 2.9 strong enough to wake me up because it was so close? Three in a few days in that spot. What would a 6 there be like? Or a 7? I don’t want to know.

The policy didn’t quite take instant affect at signing; the guy gave me the minute of the hour of the day. Three more hours now. Wait, now that I’ve been typing this long, make that two. Less than.

I am remembering when I flew to Maryland a few months after our 7.1 and, getting off the plane, I felt like I could suddenly breathe and it surprised me. I had not realized how much I had been aware of the earth not moving, how I’d watched for light poles swinging on overpasses–and there were a lot of drivers that even then simply wouldn’t stop for a light underneath a bridge, even if it meant someone else could zip around and ahead of them. And no one ever did. Silent amity and unanimity.

But in Maryland it was just plain ordinary oblivious life again, and eventually in California it was, too.


But if you ask someone where they were in the Loma Prieta everyone who was here has a story.

I think that I’m going to feel that sense of exhaling again after the stroke of midnight plus one.

It hasn’t been just me; it’s been him, too, and to me the fact that my unflappable husband sensed the need, to him the fact that I sensed the need, between us that made it a done deal.

Our budget just changed a lot with that first payment, but someday it will look like a bargain indeed. Right now I keep reminding myself that, compared to what could be, the premiums? They’re nothing earthshattering.

4 Comments so far
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I remember the point in time when we decided we had enough equity in our SLC house that the earthquake premiums became worth the cost. Amazing what little things like that do for one’s calm.

Comment by Barbara 09.09.14 @ 8:52 am

We’ve had earthquake insurance since day one of living in CA. First when we rented (contents) and now that we have a house. In my mind it’s always worth the extra expense to not have to worry.

We moved in here January 1990- just after Loma Prieta, but got to experience the cluster of aftershocks that Spring.

Comment by Anne 09.09.14 @ 4:50 pm

I’m sorry for the shocking news about Sandy. Peace to those still grieving.

Comment by Channon 09.09.14 @ 5:47 pm

I’m glad you have this peace of mind. And that the bubble bottle is out of that window!

Comment by twinsetellen 09.09.14 @ 5:51 pm

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