23 THINGS I REMEMBER ABOUT THIS DAY, 23 YEARS AGO

  1. 1.
    Being woken up by the flash of the television before everything went black.
  2. 2.
    The rumbling noise like a train was about to crash into the house
  3. 3.
    The violent shaking that just wouldn't stop.
  4. 4.
    The bed undulating like waves in the ocean.
  5. 5.
    The sound of glass breaking.
  6. 6.
    The smell of gas filling the house.
  7. 7.
    The panic of being trapped. Pulling on the bedroom door but being unable to get out as it warped under the force of the shaking.
  8. 8.
    Minutes feeling like hours before my dad was able to pry the door open enough that I could squeeze into the hall.
  9. 9.
    Smacking my head on the corner of the hallway as I climbed over the wreckage.
  10. 10.
    Standing barefoot in the middle of the street as the aftershocks hit.
  11. 11.
    The pitch black darkness.
  12. 12.
    Someone pulling shards of glass out of my foot and bandaging it up.
  13. 13.
    The blood curdling screams of my elderly neighbor who was trapped in her house.
  14. 14.
    Huddling with my mom and brother and some neighbors as my dad and some of the other men ran down the street to help her.
  15. 15.
    Another aftershock sets off the car alarms, the only noise now among the silence of the night.
  16. 16.
    The sky lit up in hues of red and orange as if the sun was rising, instead it was a fiery explosion blocks away.
  17. 17.
    The smell of coffee and hot chocolate as my neighbor cranked up their RV.
  18. 18.
    As the sun began to rise the reality set in; cinder block walls had crumbled, brick chimneys and roofs collapsed, walls with cracks big enough to see daylight.
  19. 19.
    6 hours in and the feeling of fear as 2 cats and one brother are still MIA.
  20. 20.
    My brother going into the wreckage for provisions. He came back with a giant ass tub of red vines and Diet Coke.
  21. 21.
    Tears of joy when I looked up and saw my neighbor carrying one of my cats, pulled from under some debris but OK.
  22. 22.
    More joy when I saw my brother rounding the corner on his bike.
  23. 23.
    Gathered outside on the front lawn as the sun was starting to set, my family of five (and two cats) reunited. We were together and we were going to be ok.