Phantom Rumbles

Almost 9 years have passed since the Great Tohoku Earthquake that shook half the country's land and triggered a devastating tsunami that laid waste to entire coastal towns. Aftershocks were frequent and concerning, hitting the improbable number of 1,000 just thirty-three days after the event. People were wary of the ground beneath their feet and for good reason. Since 3/11 quake I have often tensed whenever the ground shook on account of a large truck going by or someone turning up a decent sound system nearby. Every time the floor moves, either in my mind or otherwise, I'll look for some indication that the ground really is in motion. This often means looking at a glass with liquid inside or a hanging ceiling light. If there is a real earthquake, these objects would show signs of its existence. Over the nine years since 2011, I've been right fewer than 5 times.

Last year I wrote about these phantom quakes and how I generally deal with them. Lately there's been a new twist to the imaginary seismic activity: phantom rumbles.

Before each earthquake is a low rumbling from the ground as the incredible energy contained in the earthquake's shockwaves ripple across the land. I've been hearing this sound once or twice every day for the last couple of years and, just like with the phantom quakes, I look for a glass or a ceiling light to verify the concern. Lately the sound has become a lot more frequent, though.

Every truck that drives by and some of the vans driven by neighbours all seem to carry the telltale sign of an impending quake. Try as I might to rationalise it, there's no getting around the fact that I'm clearly worried that there will be another 3/11-type event in this area. It's irrational and I know it to be such, but the deep-rooted concern that we'll have such an event cannot be ignored.

How long will this fear of large quakes last? The family and I were physically unscathed by the giant quakes. There's no logical reason for the concern to exist, yet it's very hard to get rid of.