I can see the floor buckle, the cracks spread across linoleum. I can feel the earth roll and jerk in ways I never thought feasible. I can see the three foot long slice in the ceiling, plaster falling.
And I remember the waiting. I can touch the grass of the day-care center, putting my ear to the earth and listening for aftershocks. I watched as child after child left with joyous parents until it was me and one other child. I can feel the quickening of breath, the fear that perhaps I'd never leave the daycare, I'd grow old there.
The relief, I remember that too when my mom arrived. Oh, the happy reunion! It would be hours before my dad would come home - cell phones didn't exist for us then, so we had to hope for the best.
Our home was fine. It had shifted in ways that it shouldn't. But it was mostly minor damage, fallen books, broken picture frames. The beloved hutch cabinet proved its mettle by moving a mere 2 inches without tumbling. It could have been far worse, it was for thousands of others.
Even though I was young, a child, my brain remembers the footage of cars falling off the top portion of the Bay Bridge and the horrific collapse of the Cypress section of the Nimitz freeway. The horror stories of cutting people out of their vehicles, off torn limbs and of crushed bodies. The fires burned. It was surreal.
It's been twenty years today since the Loma Prieta quake. It's nice to know that fifty years from now, I'll be able to remember all the mixed emotions from fear to relief; from sadness to happy reunions. All of it. Even if I can't remember what I had for breakfast.