Warnings in April 2011

You get used to earthquakes living here. Sometimes you can go a number of months without one; other times a couple hit within a few days. Never particularly strong, it is, oddly, something of a thrill.

I’m in the kitchen when it hits and immediately you know it’s big. The cupboards open and bottles smash. Glasses. Dishes. I remember this clearly with a sort of detached amusement: one of those old-fashioned, heavy pasta rolling machines shoots about two meters across the room. Not down, just straight out. I actually laugh. It’s long, minutes long. Clench your jaw and hold the refrigerator in place long. Then it stops and you put your hands on your head and just think holy shit that really just happened. Then the aftershocks, a week of aftershocks. For three days, aftershocks every five minutes. You get seasick living on the seventh floor. Seasick in Tokyo.

One kilometer lines for gas. Empty supermarket shelves. No bread. No rice. No milk. No Brooklyn beer. The city is dark.

It feels different, the city, I mean. People look tired. People are tired.

We are fine. Most certainly keeping a close eye on the news, but fine. Assuming the problems at the power plant don’t worsen, then it gets better by the hour, at least for us.

In the grand scheme of things, we’ve been affected very little. I also know already that this will be a defining memory, in the where were you when you heard Kennedy was shot way of thinking. And this wasn’t even the big one to hit Tokyo. That will happen. The odds are high that I’ll be here when it does. I’m not looking forward to it.

I think I’ll go cycling today. Blue skies and warming up quickly. The calendar says the first weekend of spring. My eyes agree.

The preceeding email was sent to me by a great friend living in Tokyo. His works used to appear in this magazine under the name Fernando Black.

By Tim Hoerle