Japan (I) -- The first time
This was my first time. 6:35 AM in the morning. I was awake because of the jetlag, standing in this small hotel room in my PJs and it happened. The hotel moved. As if it were a paper construction. The potential strength of that earthquake was palpable. Like the touch of a giant who has decided not to hurt you but whose "caress" still sends you across the room.
My first reflex is to grab my pants and get dressed. I don't want to stay in my PJs. Don't want to linger in bed. I want to be entirely dressed in case it happens again. Then I look for my passport and green card and decide to carry them at all time. I won't let them in my hotel room as I usually do. I can't risk it.
I check the net and the monitoring of earthquakes and sure enough, I find it: a 5.3 magnitude quake off the coast of Japan. Nothing really but enough to make me think that I don't want to die here, that I want to be back home as quickly as possible, surrounded by friends and familiar faces. I've checked. There has been no earthquake recorded in Washington DC for the past 100 years.