That was the title of a report I wrote in fourth grade on Pangea. Or at least, it was the final title. The first title I came up with was “Pangea” and my mom told me I should be more creative than that. She suggested the shake/rattle/roll thing. Clearly, since my mom thought it was cool, it was definitely not cool, and I remember we had a big, crying fight over the title of my stupid report. But eventually I gave in and called it “Shake, Rattle and Roll – The Earth is Moving Around” and I think I got an A. Definitely a B+. And I remember thinking that perhaps being creative wasn’t so bad, and perhaps my mom was a lot cooler than I thought she was.
Oddly enough, my report on Pangea was the first thing that popped into my mind when I woke up on April 25th. I had been home from Kathmandu for ten days. I was still having dreams about being in Nepal, one in which I was making very specific plans for a dinner party with my friend Kate, and when I woke up I was thinking “better call Kate to work on the invite list”……until I slowly remembered that I was at home, and that I didn’t live in Nepal anymore. Honestly, I didn’t live anywhere. I was a visitor in my hometown. Anyways, I woke up on April 25 to a barrage of text messages, and I quickly realized that something was wrong. Way wrong.
My just ten days ago home had suffered a large earthquake while I was sleeping – something that we’d been planning for and dreading the entire time we were there. The Embassy kept us very prepared, with “Go Bags” (bags you kept at home in an easy-to-reach location filled with the essentials: passports, clothes, contact solution, cadbury eggs, you know what I mean) with “Stay Bags” at work under our desks (in case we had to stay at the embassy for a while) and tons of training: Earthquake preparedness, medical emergency response training, CPR, light search and rescue – we were ready. I remember while leaving Kathmandu thinking that one day I would be far, far away and hear about an earthquake happening – it was bound to happen eventually. It never occurred to me that it would happen so soon after I left, to all the friends and co-workers I had just said goodbye too.
I want to write something about the earthquake here but I can’t – I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened. I was glued to the news and to Facebook and to the State Department website. It was pretty easy (thank you, Lord) to quickly determine that most of the people I knew were at least physically fine. It took a bit longer to check on some of my Nepali friends. But it seems that everyone I knew is more or less okay, and I am so thankful for that. I keep finding myself thinking about people and places that I didn’t know very well – what about the nice couple I passed on my way to work almost every morning? What about that cute little town Bandipur, right near the epicenter? I still feel some survivor’s guilt – part of me is so glad I had already departed, but part of me wishes I could have been there to help – I know everyone at the embassy worked very, very hard and had a LOT of challenges to face, and I wish I could have been there to help them in any small way. But I wasn’t. And I couldn’t. Doesn’t make a great story really, it just is what it is. I gave money to the Red Cross, and if you are interested, please consider donating to one of the many reputable donations helping Nepal recover.
It feels silly to tell you about my home leave, but for continuity’s sake, I will – It has been a lovely time. Kyle and the kitties and I made it here just fine, we got to see my tiniest brother graduate with his masters, we have eaten ALL THE THINGS. I can’t believe that it’s about to come to an end (for me, anyways – Kyle has more free time – so unfair) in less than a week I’ll be heading to DC to start my training. I love DC, and I love my job, so it’s not a bad thing. It’s just hard to believe that my first home leave is almost over. For everyone who I didn’t get to hang out with – I’m terribly sorry. You would think five weeks would be plenty of time, but between the doctor’s appointments, and family visits, and all the eating that had to be done, some things just didn’t happen, even though I would have liked them to.
Not sure if I will blog from DC or not, but I will definitely let everyone know once we arrive in Islamabad. Thanks for listening and checking up on me – it means a lot to this wanderer.
“While natural disasters capture headlines and national attention short-term, the work of recovery and rebuilding is long-term.”
Sylvia Matthews Burwell