Richter

As you know, I live in Los Angeles. As you also may have heard, there was a big ass earthquake – I’m sorry, TWO big ass earthquakes – last week. One was at 10:40am on the 4thof July (6.4), and the second one was the next day at 8:20pm (7.1). And HOLY SHIT. 

I have lived in California my entire life. I have slept through most of the earthquakes in my lifetime and been awake for maybe four. Two of which happened last week. And last week, they shook me to my core (pun intended.)

Now, you might be wondering why I’m writing about earthquakes on my blog about being single and wondering why the hell this is relevant… Well, nothing reminds you just how single you really are like being home alone with no one but your cat when a big ass earthquake hits. Also, it’s my blog and I want to talk about earthquakes. 

I don’t know about you guys, but whenever something alarming happens to me, my brain goes into hyperspeed searching for answers. It’s like an unhelpful C-3PO, coming up with both the best outcomes and the worst. For example, when the first earthquake hit, I was at home, getting ready to go meet my friends at the beach. I was grabbing my beach chair, sunscreen, and Hydroflask full of Tito’s, when the shelves and paintings on my walls started to shake. 

My first thought: What the hell are my neighbors doing?

I don’t live in the most sound-proof building.

Second thought: Oh, wait it’s an earthquake.

I didn’t move. I continued standing in my dining room. 

Third thought: This will be over any second…aaaaany second…

And then the rolling started (and no, I wasn’t on Molly). I mean my entire building started swaying beneath my feet. Not violent shaking, I didn’t feel rattled or like I was going to be knocked over, but the ground was swaying beneath me. 

It felt like being on a boat. A big boat. More specifically, a cruise ship on a windy day. Maybe after a banana daiquiri or two. You’re walking down the Lido deck and this big-ass boat hits a swell, and the whole boat moves but it’s so big that it’s not harsh or abrupt. You’re still on your feet. It’s smooth, but also disconcerting. Except when it happens on land, it’s a bit more unsettling. Boats are supposed to move; buildings are not. 

At this point, I decided I should do something to make myself safer. I looked around and saw my cat, sitting on the ground staring out the sliding glass door, seemingly unfazed. 

Fourth thought: Ummm, excuse me Remi but aren’t you supposed to have like a sixth sense and alert me moments before the earthquake?! Worthless.

I walked towards my bedroom and stood in the doorway. That’s supposed to be the safest place, although it has to be weight-bearing in order to be safe, blah blah blah I had no time to check so I stood in the doorway. 

The swaying continued. I started to get a little freaked out. 

Fifth thought: Wow this is going on for a long time. At least I’m dressed and I have shoes on. Doesn’t matter, it’s about to end. 

The swaying continued. 

Sixth thought: Oh my God what if this is it? Where’s my earthquake survival kit? It’s in the closet. Okay. STILL SHAKING?! 

I started feeling slightly lightheaded.

Seventh thought: I’m all alone! What if this is the big one and I’m all alone? Should I go outside? Should I stay here? Where is my cat? What if I can’t find him afterwards? OMG he’s not wearing his collar!!!

And then the swaying stopped. The building settled back in, and all was quiet. I popped my head back out into the living room to see if Remi was okay. The damn cat was sitting in the same exact spot. He had not moved. Wasn’t looking around to see what had happened, didn’t even have his ears back in that bitchy cat way. WORTHLESS. Adorable, but worthless. 

I waited for a second, wondering if I should alter my plans or do something because of the quake, but I couldn’t think of anything so I just grabbed my stuff and headed out. There wasn’t any activity for the rest of the day that I felt.

Fast forward to the next evening. I had gone out to sushi with my friend Michelle and we came back to my apartment to watch a movie. We were sitting on the couch, fully relaxed, when Michelle jumped up. 

“Do you feel that?!”

“What?”

I paused the movie and jumped up but didn’t feel anything.  

“It was just an aftershock.” Michelle reassured me. Makes sense. They say there are always lots of aftershocks happening after an earthquake. Actually, there are tiny earthquakes happening pretty much all the time. If you go to the Griffith Observatory, downstairs near the Leonard Nimoy theater and all the planet displays, they have a seismograph and a screen that shows all of the seismic activity that has occurred in Southern California over the last hour, day, week, and month. (Hot tip: it’s a lot.)

We resumed the movie. Not more than five minutes later, it happened again. 

“Do you feel THAT?!” Michelle asked me with a lot more emphasis.

Oh yeah, I felt it, even sitting on the couch. We both jumped up and did pretty much the same thing I had done the day before. We stood in the middle of my living room and waited for it to be over. When it did not end immediately, we looked at each other and started for separate doorways. I stood under mine again and Michelle was under the doorway directly across the living room from me. 

The floor started to sway again. We were on a boat in my living room for the second day in a row. I mean, I’ve always thought it would be fun to live on a boat, but come on. 

This time, Remi noticed. He hovered low to the ground and walked to the middle of the room, looking at me, then Michelle, then back at me. He was bugging out. I called him over to me but he just hunkered down even lower. Worthless.

The swaying continued for what felt like a long time. A VERY long time. I began to grow uneasy. I wouldn’t say that I panicked, but I was definitely scared. I have never been worried for my life during an earthquake, and this time I was. 

Michelle saw that I was starting to get scared. I was lightheaded again and my hands were shaking. I felt ridiculous. 

“Breathe, Kelly. Just breathe.” 

She kept me calm. We stayed in our doorways. I looked at my shoes, wondering if I should run and grab them or stay put. I thought about where my earthquake kit was in the closet. The shaking and the lightheadedness increased. 

Finally, it ended, and I realized I was crying. I was really scared. I can’t even begin to recount all of the thoughts that went through my head this time but I can tell you that they were not good. Except for one; I was so glad that Michelle was there with me! If this had been the big one, I felt infinitely better knowing that I had a friend there with me to navigate the aftermath. Not to mention, a tough, self-sufficient friend who I imagine would be a great partner to have in any disaster or apocalypse. She gave me a long hug, and it made me feel better.

And then it hit me; This is why I don’t want to be single forever. I want a partner to face the hard times with me. It’s not about needing someone to take care of me, it’s about having someone there to keep me calm when I start to freak out. Or vice versa. Because telling someone else to breathe reminds you to breathe. You can’t tell someone to calm down and then continue to freak out yourself. It’s just science. 

Once I drank some water and calmed down, I put my earthquake kit right by my front door, along with my cat’s carrier and a pair of shoes and socks. Just in case another aftershock hit that happened to be bigger than the original earthquake. I was shook. 

As I slept that night, I woke up for no reason. I sat up suddenly, and then felt my bed shaking. Or so I thought… My cat was lying on the bed next to me, dead asleep, but I think we’ve established that he’s not a reliable replacement for a seismometer. I waited a few seconds, contemplated jumping out of bed and putting on a bra, but the “shaking” stopped. I sat up for another moment, bug eyed, then decided to lay down. 

I couldn’t sleep. I now had adrenaline coursing through my veins from the activation of my fight or flight response, and since I had done neither, it took a while for my body to calm back down. Here was another moment where I wished that I had someone lying in bed next to me (other than my cat.) Even if it was a phantom earthquake, it would have been nice to have a human man wake up with me, laugh it off, and then wrap me in his arms and lull me back to sleep. Or, since we were already awake, maybe burn off that adrenaline in another way… 

Either way, it would have been nice to have someone there. 

Which brings me back to my original theme; I’m still single. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy, surrounded by wonderful friends and family, and very fulfilled. But I don’t want to be single forever. This was a stark reminder of that.  

So even though we took a slight detour this week into earthquake territory, don’t worry, next week we will be back to tedious, awkward, disastrous dating stories. I’m not giving up, because I’m not planning on navigating these fault lines all by myself. 

Tommy

This one time, on Hinge, I met a boy who seemed cute, funny, and a little quirky. His name was Thomas but he went by Tommy. He was tall with brown hair and brown eyes. Tommy and I made a date for 7:00 on a Thursday evening, which just so happened to be Valentine’s Day. No big deal. We were going to grab drinks at Tommy’s favorite bar in Culver City. I vaguely remembered the bar by name when he suggested it, and did not particularly want to go there. I had been once years before and was not a big fan. I tried to suggest an alternate location in Santa Monica and all he said was “This is pretty close to the west side.” Hint not received. Onward. 

I don’t live in Culver City but I was going to an open mic nearby anyway so I could just head straight to the bar afterwards. I was all set to drive to the bar when Tommy texted me. 

Hey, is it alright if we push it back to 7:30? Finishing up some work.

Cue hard eye roll. Pushing back our date thirty minutes before we’re supposed to meet up? Bad form. But I did have an errand to run so I said sure, ran my errand, and got to the bar at 7:25. I sat right by the front door and waited for 15-20 minutes. Not exactly sure how much time passed while I was re-reading the menu chalkboard but I did decide I was going to have a $5 Old Fashioned if my date ever arrived. I sat by myself, holding back yawns, jerking my head every time someone walked through the door. And then finally, cue Tommy. He walked in, looked directly at me, and as I raised my hand to acknowledge him, he continued to look around the room. I sat there and watched it happen, amused, waiting for him to circle back at me. He didn’t. I was tempted to just let him walk past me and sneak out the door but instead I said his name and he looked at me like I was a stranger. Which I guess I technically was, but still.

We hugged awkwardly and headed towards the back room. This bar was his choice so I followed his lead. I was wearing high heeled boots so naturally he chose a standing location, ignoring all of the vacant booths dotting the horizon of the mostly empty room. Easier to make a quick getaway I supposed, so I didn’t protest. Tommy went to grab drinks at the bar and I started to go with him but he set his keys and phone down on our standing table, which strongly implied to me that I should stay behind and watch his things. He returned with an Old Fashioned for me and a shot and a beer for himself. We cheers’d and he downed his shot. And so began the forced conversation that I could barely hear. 

Tommy kept mumbling things about his tech job, using jargon that I didn’t know. I asked him what he meant a couple of times and after the least helpful explanations he could muster, he kept using his tech jargon anyway. I stopped asking for clarification. I did ask “What?” at least three times because I simply couldn’t hear him over the music. After the third time he had made no effort to either speak louder or enunciate, so I just stopped listening. My feet hurt. I shifted back and forth, trying to find a more comfortable stance and also stay awake. He was droning on about work, a trip he took to Denver once, and how he hated basically everything. I would smile and nod, or roll my eyes disapprovingly at whatever subject he was judging at the moment. I figured I would ride it out and leave after my drink, but then the situation escalated. 

As he was telling me how lame something else was, he started touching his nose the way one does when they think the might have a booger hanging out. For the record, he did not have a booger hanging out. You’d think that would be a good thing but believe me it was not. Since he apparently had not yet discerned whether or not he had a booger, he decided to start rooting around in his nostril. Yes, he started picking his nose. Index finger straight in there. Not a glancing blow either, but left it in there for a few seconds AND CONTINUED TALKING. I took a sip of my drink, looked around, anything to avert my eyes. I looked back and he had finished. Phew. He was ready for another beer. Did I mention it was Valentine’s Day? Because it was. 

Off to the bar he went. I checked my phone. Only 10 minutes had passed. 

How is this possible?! I started taking bigger gulps of my Old Fashioned. Tommy came back from the bar with his beer. The “conversation” resumed. I tuned out again as he droned on some more, until I saw his hand reach for his nose again, and my senses were suddenly heightened. I had laser focus, my heart was beating faster, and I felt my armpits dampen. 

The sight of him picking his nose had triggered my fight or flight response. I was thisclose to turning around and running out of the bar without a word. But social constructs kept my feet firmly planted on the concrete floor, where I was still standing in my high heeled boots. This time there was no foreplay. He went straight in with his index finger, and looked me dead in the eye while he did it. He kept talking as if nothing weird was happening, like this was how he carried on conversations all the time. I began to wonder to myself, does he just do this? Did no one ever tell him that you pick your nose in the privacy of your own bathroom or maybe your car in a pinch?! I almost said something; “You are aware that I can see you right now, yeah?” 

Finally, he lowered his hand. Finally, I exhaled. Oh no, he only lowered his hand to his mouth. He is now picking his teeth with the same finger he picked his nose. I don’t know if that counts as picking your nose and eating it but I do know I had to get the fuck out of there. I took more gulps of my drink, checked the time, started unzipping my boots to make a run for it. He kept talking. I must have seemed eager to leave because he asked me what I was doing the rest of the night. “Going home.” “Oh. Well I just got a text from my boss.” He turned his phone to prove it to me, as if I would object to him ending this regrettable date. 

He told me he had to go home and finish some work. That’s right, the guy who pushed our date back half an hour at the last minute because he was finishing up some work, works from home. Cool. I told him it was no problem and tried to show him how genuinely not offended I was. “Let’s hang out next week though” he said. I looked at him, puzzled. He offered to walk me to my car. I protested. He insisted. I don’t know why he offered in the first place if I wasn’t allowed to decline the offer anyway. We got to my car, I gave him a cursory hug and as I pulled away, he kissed me! I had just watched this guy pick his nose and possibly eat it, so I was disenchanted to say the least. But even more so, I was ambushed! Read the room Tommy. Nothing about this date suggested that you should kiss me.  

I turned away to walk to my car and he pulled on my hand. “So let’s hang out next week, yeah?” He asked, as if there had been any semblance of joy on this date. “Um, I’m out of town until Wednesday.” I replied as coldly as I could. “Okay so Thursday or Friday? I’ll text you.” I just looked at him with a very bewildered, likely unpleasant face, and turned to go to my car for a second time. Then he kissed me AGAIN! And he would have kept kissing me had I not turned my head to give him my cheek as I unwrapped his arms from my waist and stepped off the curb directly into oncoming traffic. Just kidding. But almost. I was wearing high heels after all.

The good news? There was no traffic, I was home by 8:30, and he never texted me again. Oh, did I mention this was on Valentine’s Day?