Today I experienced an earthquake for the first time. I was sleeping in after another night’s bout with insomnia and felt the bed tremble. Still asleep, I thought I was dreaming until I heard the doors rattle and a car alarm go off in the distance. I got up and stumbled into the living room, the earth still quaking beneath my feet. After a few seconds that seemed interminable, I found Johnny and headed outside with Ali. The earth stopped shaking and it was over. The earthquake registered a 7.6 on the Richter scale and had its epicenter in the Peninsula of Nicoya and resulted in two people dead and a dozen or so injured. We spent the morning contacting loved ones before they got a chance to get worried. But more than the earth unraveled today, on a personal level. I had a visit with a chiropractor/acupuncturist to figure out what’s going on with some pretty serious pain in my lower back. Since being in Costa Rica, it’s flared up quite a bit and started affecting my posture and generally causing me discomfort and unease. So, I thought it was a matter of adjusting my spine and maybe getting a few needles put in to relieve the pain. I guess it was more than that. I walk into the doctor’s office and see a man, mid-40s, American or Canadian, with an uncomfortably intense stare and a really strange energy. I immediately feel uncomfortable by how this man is communicating with me and the kind of questions he’s asking, including whether my mother had any miscarriages and if I resembled my grandmother. I realize this is an alternative healing practice, but this man gives off none of the vibes of other alternative healers I’ve encountered. When he can’t think of a word or concept, his eyes roll back into his head and his body language is all kinds of awkward. I don’t know why I didn’t just run out of there. I suppose propriety, and the fact that we’d driven an hour to get there. He makes some really strange comments. For example, I mention my knee surgery, and how the pain has been present in my back on and off since then, and he dismisses me completely and starts talking about my kidneys and how they are weak. I guess I stick it out because he’s uncannily perceptive in his strange way and identifies many aspects of my character right off the bat. With the physical exam, he identifies that I am stressed, scared, and sad – three conditions that I don’t recognize with myself except in passing. While lying on the table, he asks me to lift my arm and resist his attempt to push it down. With his other hand, he presses on my organs. Gall bladder—I resist easily. Small intestine – the same. Large intestine—I resist easily. Kidneys—and my arm shoots down like it hasn’t got an ounce of strength in it. I realize that this man who gives off crazy bad vibes knows something I don’t know and may be able to help me. He then gives me a spinal adjustment, but talks the whole time about how I have too much fire and says something about not having enough water and needing to balance out the two. I don’t know what he says, but my back feels straighter although it is still sore in my lower back. I tell him as much, and he proceeds to give me an acupuncture treatment. Unlike acupuncturists in the US, he doesn’t coax or explain or try to make me feel comfortable with the procedure. He just takes out the needles and taps them into my body in various places. I feel energy rushing out and rushing in with each needle. I lay there for ten minutes, maybe, as he works on another patient and answers the phone, which is ringing constantly. I try to pay attention to my body while relaxing. Finally, he comes back and takes out the needles. I sit up, and all my pain is gone. We make another set of appointments because, as he says, he’s not a magician. I leave the office feeling better physically but emotionally completely unstable. I decide I don’t want to go back – that he was a quack and that his energy was too strange to feel at all healing, even though my body feels better than it has in a long time. At a coffee shop a little while longer, I feel completely overwhelmed. My senses are super heightened – I am extra sensitive to noise, about to cry, and feel like falling asleep. Johnny reacts with infinite patience and we try to dispel the feeling by going to a movie. We watch Spy Kids, which does wonders for my soul if only because of all the children laughing. But then on the ride home we catch a taxi driven by a man who appears to be really high. We ask him to stop and get out and I can feel my nerves fraying again. Finally, we make it home and I run into the bedroom, turn off all the lights, and try to find balance again. I fail. I start crying. I cry so loud and so strong that my throat hurts and my body heaves. I have no idea what is happening, except that suddenly I remember the doctor’s diagnosis: sad, scared, and stressed. I’d dismissed it, but all of a sudden, it makes sense. I am aware of all my fears and my sadness and my stresses. That they exist and what they are. And now, my neck feels sore, but my heart feels purged and I think I’ll remember this day as one in which more than the earth broke open.