Tsunami Blues

Last night, we got to go out due to the free babysitting provided by our friend Jill. A night to remember. A date night. A night which would exceed every expectation I have ever had of every date night previous. Yes. My needs are minimal.

Anyway, it seems like every time we try to go out something happens. Usually, it’s a kid getting sick, or one of us getting sick, or a complete lack of money to really do anything.

We went out to a restaurant called Stage first, where I found out that you can get motion sick from watching a very busy intersection constantly from the 2nd floor, and you should not eat at Stage unless you’re not hungry, because they take 1.5 hrs to cook a piece of salmon. Seriously. I wish I were joking. Now, Cadillac had eaten there before and it also took 1.5 hrs, but he figured the reason was his party of nine.

Anyway, then we went along to the Yelp Honolulu Elite party at a nightclub, where they had free food, Chinese dragon dancers, and free Grolsch beer (you could get whatever drink you wanted). I mention Grolsch because Cadillac noted it used to be sold in 2-packs due to its high quality, but he said it didn’t taste as good as it used to. I had a diet Coke myself.

This is not the point of the story. After our night out and then staying up even later when we got home, having Jill keep the kids up super late, we planned to sleep in.

Not so. At 6 am the tsunami alarms sounded– long and hard, three minutes. “This can’t be good,” I thought, threw on some clothes and met my family in the hallway.

Horrific earthquake in Chile. Tsunami warning here.

We’re on high ground and in no danger, and they didn’t expect anything until at least 11 am. The alarms sounded again at 7, at 9, 10:30 and 11. It gave everyone in the danger zones plenty of time to evacuate.

Cadillac headed to Safeway to get some water. They were out. He waited for Long’s to open in a line. At Long’s, unlike Safeway, no one was rationing water, so all the cases were gone. He bought some quart sized bottles of Fiji (yay! my favorite, but I never get it ’cause it’s pricier) and a couple of plastic water pitchers. Once we filled up our pitchers, our Camelbaks, and assorted Thermoses, we figured we had enough to last until the Mainland sent supplies to one of the four military base airports here.

At seven, my dad called me. “Are you guys okay?” he said. He had also called and asked this during the last tsunami watch, during which I also explained where we live, the tsunami sirens, etc. etc. I know he uses Google Earth so he can see where we live, too. “Nah, we’re going to the beach and getting washed to sea,” I said, smart-alecky. He laughed and said he’d been on duty during the 1960 Hilo tsunami, which had 35 foot high waves or something like that. But now, of course, the tsunami warning system is quite sophisticated and there’s plenty of time to get out of the path. Probably less dangerous to be here during a tsunami– just go to high ground– than to be in San Diego during a brush fire. And the tsunami warning ends more quickly than a fire, too.

The kids were in high dudgeon. They made a “command station” in Ethan’s room, consisting of a floor mattress, fan, and blankets. Elyse was glued to the news. Ethan looked up “Tsunami” in his 100 MOST DANGEROUS THINGS book and they read it aloud. “70% chance of survival!” Ethan exclaimed. Kaiya got so scared she refused to come downstairs, thinking the water would flood her out. I pointed to Koko Head and said it would block all the water.

Thus we waited out the morning. The roads were closed and we were told to stay home unless we were actually in the process of evacuating. At last, in the afternoon, they cleared the warning.

The funny thing was, I’d actually planned to go to the beach today for the first time in a long time.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

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