I was eating lunch with some of my students when snow started pounding down from a warm spring sky. "wtf?! Do you guys see this? It's snowing!"
"Aaah, yuki da!" (Oh, it's snow!)
Everyone was a little surprised. Then again, it's probably just that pesky global warming. Humans raping the earth - mystery solved. I returned to my desk for another 2 hours and then got in my car and drove home. I threw my coat on the floor and began checking my e-mail. A tangle of Christmas lights I never bothered to take down started rattling against my window banister. Some wall hangings followed suit until every object I own was in full seizure. Within minutes my entire apartment complex had begun swaying back and forth.
'Wow, guess there must be some tremors around here'. It seems like I learned somewhere that you're supposed to go to a large open space during an earthquake. After packing up my laptop I headed out to the car park, hoping that I had recalled the procedure to the correct natural disaster. My legs carried me like a drunkard and I found my car rolling on the unsteady ground. When the worst seemed over, I went back inside and got ready for a party. Three of my best friends were hosting their going away party that night. It's difficult to make good friends abroad, so a mid-afternoon quake was low on my radar.
By dawn, I had stumbled home from the bar to find about 8,000 missed calls from home. The phone rang and rang through one of the worst hangovers of recent history. By this point, I had picked up a few more tidbits about the earthquake, namely that it was big and that it was difficult to make phone calls, but certainly nothing I assumed to warrant bringing me back from the dead so heartlessly. When I submitted to wakefulness, the news started pouring in. 8.8 on the Richter scale. Nuclear power plants unstable. Tsunami. Thousands of bodies. Beware of acid rain and radiation. Wreckage.
Today at work, I was asked to correct some papers from a 1st grade class at my JHS. The students were to pretend that they were writing me a postcard from somewhere and tell me about their trip. The assignment must have been given out before the weekend. One boy wrote,
I am in Miyagi. Earthquake now.
I see tsunami over there.
Earthquake is very awful.
I want food and drink.
Then I'm very cold. Can you help me?
It's a little hard to deal with. Everyone here is worried about all those who are suffering the worst of the human condition. We are worried about our future, safety and health. We are worried about nuclear explosions and safe drinking water. I am worried about my friends leaving and feeling isolated during a really weird time.
In a mere 2 days, I will have a few weeks of spring vacation. If gas rations are lifted and the roads are stable, I'd like to travel to the affected areas and offer my volunteer services. I hope that it is a feasible goal, because people really need help right now. There is no bright side to this. Good people have been very damaged. But maybe the Japanese can come together as they always do and try to mend each other.