The Wolf Tetralogy, #1: How to Distribute Your Virtue
“You can still live with grace and wisdom, thanks … partly to your own innate sense of what you must do with the resources you have…” “How to Distribute Your Virtue,” by M.F.K. Fisher


I wrote this last year, on the 32nd anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.



You went out on to the sidewalk outside the restaurant for a smoke after we got off the phone. One of your employees asked you if you were okay. You couldn’t speak. You stood there in the cool October air, your shop behind you, and you could not stop shaking.

Thirty-two years ago, in a town seven hundred miles from the city where we now live, the buildings once crumbled before your eyes. You covered your mouth with your shirt. You could not see six feet in front of you. People screamed. You ran to a nearby warehouse. You handed out water and batteries; and later, food.

A few miles away, at the epicenter, a little kid was bashed unconscious and bloody. She counted the stars that night, lying near her mother’s garden in her sleeping bag; not allowed to drift off because of her concussion. That was me.

In the coming weeks, you cooked dinner at the tent city our town built for the people who had lost their homes. My family and I cooked at the homeless shelter.

Thirty-two years later, I discovered you by accident. On a food podcast, you said, “Everything was different after the earthquake.” A throwaway line. The conversation moved on. But I had heard it in your voice, and I sent you a note. You gave me your phone number. We talked for three hours.

You finished your cigarette, and then you called me back. Like long-lost siblings, orphaned into humanity. You told me you loved me; and I said, I love you, too.


Author: `aqaq`

Tasia Bernie is an essayist, and editor of  She enjoys used bookstores, offal, and hard laughter.  She is a very good eater.  She lives with her daughter and two orange cats in Portland, Oregon.


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