Friday, March 11, 2011

The Earthquake

Friday, March 11th, 2011, Okinawa, Japan.

At 3:25 PM in the afternoon I was quietly and unassumingly working with my students who stay awake in the afternoon and do not take naps. My coworker, Ms. Kozue, came in to tell me that her boyfriend called and she heard on the new that an earthquake hit the mainland and that a tsunami hit Japanese island of Hokkaido causing much damage to the island's port cities. "Nani, hontou?" "What, really?" "Now, we are under a tsunami watch," Kozue said, "It was big." I didn't realize how big until I got home. Mark,who was being an amazing husband and cleaned the entire house to help me, had taken the day off. As soon as I got home I told him about what had happened and because of our tv situation, or the lack of cable, we went to the internet for news. We didn't have to do any digging. I brought up the never seen photos of my derby team, the Sake Bombers', photo that just came out that day as well as internet explorer where instantly, the destruction was at my finger tips. Fires, waves, rivers filled with cars, this IS Japan now. Mark and I were more on the lines of, "Wow, this was happening to our next door neighbors?" The host country that has been kind to us is in trouble!  "EARTHQUAKE, 8.4, 8.8, largest in Japan, ever." Quickly our tsunami watched turned in to a tsunami warning. Taking to facebook to talk to my friends on island helped keep me in the loop. The tsunami was coming but it was only a little one, about 0.5 meters as told to me by my good friend and derby sister Anthea. My planned dinner with my boss and coworkers would go on with nothing more than a bump. As soon as I get in the car and find myself stuck behind a car trying to go to my dinner I hear on AFN radio that in 8 minutes a tsunami that will stand 2 meters tall will hit Okinawa, stay away from the water. 2 meters, 6 feet, am I far enough away from the water? I can see the ocean, is that too close? Will the seawall stop a 6 foot tsunami from reaching me? I live close to a beach and now I am in my car, the worst place you could possibly be during any flooding. 6 minutes, I called Mark, he says turn around, but now I roll down both my windows, not realizing this wouldn't do much and after believing I was far enough away I told him I would press on. Songs come on the radio, the tsunami should have hit, Okinawa is safe. The warning came and went with no tsunami to hit our shores. Despite heavy traffic, I met my coworker Paula at the school where I work, Sunshine Montessori School, and we decided to drive by the sea. The water went out, it was so low. I saw grass and water plants where I had never seen it before. Was it because of the tsunami, I couldn't be 100% sure. All the other people that were attached to the military that were suppose to be at the dinner did not come, but I did. We went to the hotel Laguna and had a lovely dinner of talking and fellowship, still completely oblivious, or at least I was. I used facebook on my phone as well as free foto messenger to tell friends and family Mark and I are alright. They were worried and for some reason I still didn't understand why. Even with the urgent message my father sent me, I couldn't wrap my head around the tragedy that was happening. All I could think about or wonder is why the one salad said, "salad RAPE", on the food card. Not exactly something I wanted to try. After a 4 hour dinner, I was home, with Mark and my cat, Marie, watching B movies on the couch. After dreaming about trying to meet LeBron James and Bleach characters while dressed in Okinawan kimono by my coworker Ms. Feby who is not Japanese, I wake up to the morning after.

Saturday, March 12th, 2011, Okinawa, Japan.

Waking up at 6:30 am on a Saturday is nothing new for me, neither is the unfortunate pain in my neck. I figured I'd wake up to more facebook messages and I did. I read my Sake Bomber sister, Racks would be stuck in the States for a little while longer due to the earthquake. The airports on the mainland were still shut down or flights were still being cancelled. I sit down to my computer to find, "8.9," as well as all the damage, the current death toll, a nuclear power plant in danger. This is bad. Bad is not the word, this is horrible, tragic. This has really happened. So far away and yet so close, yet so safe. Mark and I had felt nothing, Okinawa was safe and yet if you took a 2 and a half hour plane ride, you would find a city shut down, power out in Tokyo and that is not at the 8.9 earthquake's epicenter. Hundreds are dead and that is at 7:00 AM, what about later, what about when the waters go back? What will be found? We can't help but be thankful, disenchanted, in a surreal blanket of what didn't happened to us. What has changed that we have seen? It isn't much because Tokyo was visited by the views from the plane window as well as roams through an airport with a hazy fog from the death of my mother. Visits to Tokyo Disney were the topic of conversation the night before but now what does this mean for Tokyo, for Miyagi, for Japan? The people, they didn't have time to get away, they didn't have time for sirens. I just can't help but wonder what were our natural sirens? The 29 earthquakes we have had since February 19th? The animals acting strangely? I doubt anyone or anything knew THIS was coming. This was "the big one". The biggest for Japan, one for the world record books, the one that many have feared, and many fears have become reality. After talking to Mom Scott this morning I found out that Japan is the only thing people are seeing on the news. Mark and I don't have cable, so we are not being flooded with images except for when we get on the internet. Will the military call Mark and his coworkers to go to the mainland to help? We don't know yet. Today, on Saturday, as far as I know we will go about our Saturday routine. There is a St. Patrick's Day parade that my league, the Kokeshi Roller Dolls will be in. We will do laundry, hang out with friends, the only difference is that in our prayers we will add Japan to our daily list.

The news site Mark and I are watching:

Video of the beach right by our house this morning, the day after.

Our hearts and prayers go out to Japan.

Sayonara from the Scott's.
Okinawa, Japan