The weather was much like I remember in October 1989. A muted grey sky with a warm breeze, yet brisk enough that you knew seasons were in flux. It was a momentous time to be a baseball fan residing in Northern California.
"The Battle of the Bay," they called it. For my family, fans would be an extreme exaggeration. "Better to do than watch," so said my pops. Yet, on a few occasions, we made the car trip to the Oakland Coliseum. The only place almost large enough to contain the steroid-swollen Bash Brothers' balls from flying beyond the fences.
Marc McGuire and Jose Canseco were not my heroes, but I certainly kept tabs and chatted up my rudimentary understanding of stats at school. So I was most certainly disappointed that the game wasn't on TV. It was, after all, the World Series.
I would root for the As. But homework first.
I was at the kitchen table with my back to the dormant television. My mother was in the kitchen preparing dinner. The clatter of pots and pans was interrupted only by her occasional inquiries on my progress. Heads down, I lost track of my dad's whereabouts. He was puttering around taking care of something around the house. The workday was not through for any of us. Such is life.
I felt a slight wooziness. A lick of crisp air entered through the back patio slider, rustling my papers on the table. I heard the familiar sound of water lapping against the lip of our swimming pool. Is Dad swimming? Surely not. Maybe he fell in?
I sprung from the table and hurried to the backyard. What should have been a placid kidney bean of blue was heaving white caps of water beyond the brim. The pool was vacant. There were no wet footprints spoiling some sort of stealth cannon ball.
Dumbfounded, I retreated to the kitchen. I tried to explain what was surely some supernatural event to my mom only to be interrupted by the arrival of family friend. He had been listening to the game on his car radio. We turned on the TV.
The documentation of rescue efforts, the accounts of survival, and the tales of loss went on for weeks.
The Richter scale does not reconcile the devastation of an earthquake. The magnitude of just one life is lost in the severity of such natural disasters. Only later did we discover the long crack in the poolside concrete. A far cry from the perils of so many closer to the San Andreas Fault. Yet somehow we all move on. Progress. Rebuild our infrastructure, culture, and community.
Since the 2011 earthquake, New Zealand's Christchurch appears to be in its infancy of succession. Restoration seems favored only for historic buildings, while newer structures deemed unsafe are left standing without a purpose. Barricades litter the sidewalks to keep pedestrians a safe distance away. Of Christchurch's nearly 400,000 residents, we saw all of a dozen locals during our evening walk.
It is a city eerily vacant, but nonetheless beautiful.