I've actually experienced one other earthquake, many years ago, in Mexico City. But it was very mild and lasted probably about two seconds. The one we had here in Virginia yesterday was much more like THE BIG ONE!
We had just finished lunch, and I was tidying up at the time; and at first I didn't really notice anything because after living in a high-rise all these years I've gotten used to a certain amount of vibration in the building from time to time. But then as the shaking got really violent, I thought I was having some kind of attack or seizure -- the power didn't blink, and nothing was falling off the walls right at first, so it took me a second or two to realize that it wasn't just me. And by that time, Michael was up saying "Is this an earthquake?" Don't really know how long it lasted -- seemed like at least a couple of minutes. And then it took me about half an hour to stop vibrating, myself, after the quake was over! Also, I was very nervous that it might start again, so I quickly gathered up all the stuff I thought we might need if we had to evacuate, and stuffed it in my purse and my big Vera Bradley bag – cell phone, glasses, iPad, Filofax, all our pills, a change of undies, and my old Teddy bear. Oh, and my makeup bag, too.
I was very worried that the building might have been damaged -- that would be just our luck to have this place declared uninhabitable now that we're so close to putting it on the market. But they issued a notice later in the afternoon, on the condo website -- no structural damage. We didn't have any sort of real damage here in the apartment, either. A few things fell off the bookcases in the study -- but no books were affected. A clock was the only thing that got broken. And Michael went right to work on that and fixed it while I was still bracing for aftershocks (there were some, but fortunately we didn't feel any).
But at least we're OK, and there doesn't seem to have been many injuries (or I haven't heard of any, so far). The only other positive note I’ve found in the whole thing is that they say now it’s really unlikely we’ll ever experience another earthquake of that magnitude in this area, in our lifetime. But I’m of two minds about that -- in a way, it sounds reassuring; in a way, it sounds like famous last words.