living ‘on the road system’

In one of the chat rooms I frequent, Snowqueen, a fellow chatter, experienced a small earthquake in a not-very-usual earthquake zone, and found it very disquieting. She does live in a Cold Place, so as she said, “I don’t know how people live in earthquake zones but I guess I live in a place where the cold could freeze your eyeballs so apparently you just get used to things.”

Well. I mean. I grew up in an earthquake zone where the cold froze your eyeballs! All at the same time! But, indeed, it never bothered me at all, because people can get used to anything, even being hanged, as the Irishman said.

However, having shared this piece of information about myself, Snowqueen was Quite of the opinion that living in an earthquake zone where the cold froze your eyeballs should Not Be Allowed, in much the same way that having to take three exams in one day was Not Allowed because nobody could write three giant essays in one day. But I–having, you know, grown up with it and thinking very little of it overall–also added, “The best bit, though, was when the volcano was also going off.”

At this point, a third party in the chat room, Hummingrose, said, “WHERE exactly did you grow up again?!?!?!” and Snowqueen was like, “Never mind, you’ve moved into supervillain origin story territory, it’s allowed again,” while I was typing out the story of the volcano:

This being in the Ancient Days of Yore, I had called JC Penney to place a catalog order and the woman I was speaking to, who was very clearly reading off a computer screen, began brightly and trailed off into audible bafflement and horror: “And I need to tell you that your order may be delayed be…because of…because of volcanic activity in the area?!?!?!?!?!!?

At that point the volcano had been going off for over a week and was blasé to us, so I was like “oh yeah it’s about 40 miles away and dumping ash all over us, it’s fine,” while the poor woman on the other end was having palpitations. :D

So I said I grew up in Kenai, Alaska, and Hummingrose immediately looked it up, ofc, because nobody knows where Kenai is, and having looked it up, said, “I’m looking at the map and is it as way out in the middle of nowhere as it seems?”

Me: I mean, it’s on the road system.
Me, after a few seconds of thinking about that: …which I guess is not an answer that most people have to give about the places they grew up, so…

Fourth party, Jillheather: ‘on the road system’

Me: WELL! It IS!

Kenai is, yes, remote by most people’s standards, I guess. It’s about 160 miles from Anchorage, which is the largest city in Alaska, by which is not very big by, er, most people’s standards. Under 300K ppl. But I remember in college hearing a woman saying she was from a small town of about 40K, which is considerably larger than any Alaskan town EXCEPT Anchorage, and I never really recovered from that. Like. That’s not a small town. :)

Anyway, so my two favorite earthquakes were the one when I was about eleven that struck on a Saturday night right around midnight and Kept. Going. long enough for me and my sister to both wake up at the jolt, wait, then get out of bed and go upstairs to see if everybody else was up to see how long the earthquake was.

They were, so we all stood around in the living room counting it. It lasted about 80 seconds, I think, and then since we were all up, we all watched Saturday Night Live, which happened to be the William Shatner episode, which, weirdly, was the only episode I ever saw any of until I was nearly thirty. Every time I’d happen to see it, it’d be a rerun of that. Like three, four times. Which is neither here nor there, but there it is. :)

The other really good one, my husband and I were in the dining room and he swung his coat on and I thought he’d smacked the dining room light because it suddenly started swinging dramatically, and I was like “ack!” and he was like “what?!” and then we realized that oh, we were having quite a big quake!

But mostly earthquakes are a thing we go “hnh, that was probably about a 4.3” about and then check to see if we’re right, or if the epicenter was either Very Close or Very Far. Usually we’re right.

So that’s what it’s like growing up ‘on the road system’ in my part of the world. :)

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