When I was eleven or twelve years old, my parents went to San Francisco for a week on vacation. This was kind of a big deal because my brother and I, two kids (my brother is only three years older than I am) were left in the house, on the farm, alone for a week. We had the dog for protection (HA!) and plenty of food. We even had sugar-cereal, which was completely verboten in our house; we were more the nut-and-twig-cereal types. Please don't judge my parents. Times were different, and we were exceptionally well-behaved children who did not tend toward destruction or rebellion. Though I did get a little rowdy after several bowls of Lucky Charms.
Anyway, while they were gone, in San Francisco, there was a huge earthquake in San Francisco. Luckily, my brother and I were likely watching McGuyver instead of the news because my parents were the ones to call and tell us that there had been an earthquake but that they were fine. It's good that they called, because even at that age, I was prone to worry and confabulation - imagining events as they might have occurred but likely did not (My parents were swallowed by the earth!!! Everybody run for your lives!!!). They were fine; everything was fine.
Many years later, when my parents were living in Mexico and I was working in Pennsylvania, they were planning a trip to New York to go to my father's college reunion at Fort Schuyler Maritime College. It was the end of the summer and a regular day for me. They were on a plane from Guadalajara to Kennedy Airport. That day was 9/11/01. I saw the footage on my computer several times before putting it together that my parents were traveling to New York that morning and it was still early enough that we had no idea what was happening or which planes were being targeted. It was chaos and I couldn't call my parents, and the airlines weren't picking up because they were overloaded with calls and I couldn't get in touch with my relatives in New York because none of the phones were working there either. It was later at night before I got a call from my parents saying that they'd been grounded in Houston and they were fine. They would be stuck in Houston for several days, but they were fine; everything was fine.
Fast forward to a few months ago. My parents had planned a vacation to Australia (with time in New Zealand and Fiji). The trip was supposed to be a month long starting in January but there was terrible flooding in Australia where they were going so the trip was postponed until last week. A couple of days ago I was listening to the radio as I was brushing my teeth before work and I heard about an earthquake in New Zealand. I was alone in the bathroom but I still said, out loud, "You've gotting to be fucking kidding".
I checked my parents' itinerary when I got into work. They weren't due to be in New Zealand until March 5th. But still. Really? I haven't been able to get in touch with them, and I'm a bit ill at ease. But I know they're fine; everything is fine.
Please don't think that I think that these tragedies happened to me or to my family. I don't. It's just that I know that we are all connected, no matter the distance that separates us. I think that we all have unique experiences of world events and this is mine. My parents go places and disasters follow and I worry. No, not really. I'm sure there's no pattern here... right?