Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Again

This morning, while standing in church, I was suddenly remembering a year ago.
A year ago on this Sunday it was a sunny day in Nelson.  I am a planner and that week I had packed for Nelson at 3am - pretty useless packing job it was too and we had left Christchurch that morning with no real plans of what would happen after that.
We had gone to church that Sunday at my late Grandparents old church. It turned out quite a few people from my past go there now and it was like being surrounded by family but it was also foreign. They acknowledged what had happened that week in Christchurch and then moved on with their service. It felt so far removed from the turmoil of feelings inside me.
Every time someone had opened the doors at the back, the rattle had reminded me of an aftershock and my heart had leapt. We were in the process of finalising our decision to shut our relatively new retail business so it could become an online only shop for awhile, we had already enrolled Lucy in the local primary school in Nelson and were planning to head back to Christchurch the next day leaving our children behind in the safety of Nelson and their Grandparents, the first time we had left three year old Tristan without us for longer than overnight. At that stage we knew our home still didn't have water or power.
This year it is so different. Tomorrow is also a new beginning as we swap over, Karl taking over the online business to build it up further and caring for the kids during the day and I am off to work. This time we planned the change.
We needed a new change, we've been living a temporary, dealing with things way of life since last year. Putting up with decisions made in haste or changed because of Feb 22. Tomorrow it is our change.
The quake backdrop will still be there though, the first task for Karl is to pack up everything ready for moving out in just over a month to move out so the house can be repaired.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A year on but still in it

A sand sculpture we made on 18 Feb
2011, when we had a different 2011
planned to the one that it became
on Feb 22 2011 at 12:51
It is hard to believe it is twelve months since the fatal quake hit Christchurch. The big quakes of September, June and December were nothing like February.
Its ramifications haven't gone away. We may have got through the first lot of temporary measures but for things like Lucy's school displaced from the city centre, there are the ongoing decisions of what the future might look like. So many times today, I realised things were different whether it was what I do with my day or driving down a road, now changed daily with traffic cones so one way is always two lanes, or driving past buildings that are gone. All of these little things I don't notice anymore but they are all due to February 22 2011.
The weather this afternoon was eerily like last year. When I think of the big September quake, I think of a loud mixture of noise that reminds me of Dr Who's TARDIS on the move. When I think of February I think of incessantly sounding alarms and that night of the silence between aftershocks - no power, no buses and little traffic on the road and the numbness of knowing people were dead.
I am still buoyed by the awesomeness people showed in those early days. The vast majority helped each other, whether we knew each other or not. I will never forget that. It took away my often cynical view of our city - when we needed each other, we really stepped up in a multitude of small ways.
I briefly saw a snippet of one of the memorial services on the television this morning and the sign guy was signing and it made me smile, how he became an instant hit. Flowers in the traffic cones - a little idea that spread city wide - have made me smile all day.
It is hard to know whether good or bad decisions are being made here about demolitions or cordons or city planning but it is a city where we all have to live intentionally. Small businesses have been hit so hard in the last year and without support, could easily disappear. Many other organisations and schools that have suffered are also working hard to keep moving forward. It really is a place that what we individuals choose, does make a difference to what will be here in the future. I think that is why I liked the flowers in the cones, in many small ways, we can decide what the city will look like.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Behaviours picked up from a year of aftershocks

Building being rebuilt in Lyttelton
Almost 12 months since February 22nd, 18 months since Sept 4th and I hate having the kitchen cupboards open, especially the one with all the plates and glasses in. It is a tall cupboard and the one we put strong magnets on, after the June quakes, to help keep it shut. The shelves have never fallen in our cupboards and nothing has broken. But I hate having them open, in case a quake hits. It will seem careless, if we lose stuff now, having gone through this far and lost so few breakable items. Doing the dishes is always a little stressful with them open to put everything away.
The only time stuff fell out of the pantry was when it was open during quite a big aftershock, I think in October or November 2010. If I sit down to dinner and realise the cupboards or pantry are open, I pop up to shut them - because you never know. It seems stupid, paranoid and ridiculous. But it is, I think, about gaining control over the uncontrollable and I don't feel so silly now because I found out other people have their rituals too. Recently someone admitted that every time they empty the kettle, they refill it and boil it. They know it is unnecessary but they like having a kettle full of water.... just in case.
I always have the ipod under the pillow and listen to podcasts to go to sleep. The first night I did that was Feb 22 - when I listened pretty much all night since sleep was hard to come by. Now I feel a bit exposed without it. I need it to go to sleep, it means I am thinking about other things - comedy from the UK or funny life stories from people in the USA.
There was a 4.0 aftershock quake the other night at around 10pm Lucy woke up really crying, not knowing why she was so upset. It took quite awhile to calm her down. I thought we would all be emotionally fine by now. We thought our kids were coping well but I am not sure anymore what is going on in their heads, but we keeping living and laughing.
We were sitting on the couches a few days ago when there was a long rumble.  We've had aftershocks with no shake and I thought it was one of those and then it started to shake. It did scare me because I thought if the rumble was that long what will the shake be like? But then it stopped, after it shook the TV. Lucy said yesterday, "You know those aftershocks that go like this," and made a particular noise to try to describe the shaking - even a six year old is distinguishing differences between them.
Anyway, life for the most part is so normal for us compared to other people living in this same city.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February Again

Yep, that shop looks pretty closed to me.
It is an odd feeling coming to February again. February has been such a loaded word for twelve months.
I thought as 2012 was a new year we could leave quake stuff behind, which I could while on holiday but not once all the normal yearly things kicked in. Lucy is back at school and it is still at its temporary site and while this suits us very well, in the future decisions will need to be made about its permanent site and where that is and what it looks like.
I am going to start working and the jobs I am doing have really come about because of the quakes.
Our house is still to be fixed. I am starting to come to grips with how much everything has really changed in this city.
It is perhaps with a little trepidation that I take part in all the annual beginning of the year things that I did last year. I realise how little of the year we had before it was turned upside down. I remember the things I was thinking at this time last year, that became irrelevant in a few short weeks.
It is in doing these things again, that I see how crazy last year was. The things that just became normal and I didn't question, I am starting to see were not normal before February at all - like helping strangers and accepting help from strangers or showering at other people's houses.
There is so much still to be done in this city and sometimes it feels so much easier just to leave it all behind but I also know the events of the past year are stuck inside me too.
And we still have the CBD red zone cordon with us - see below for city comparisons and we are twelve months on now.
Christchurch's current CBD red zone no go area cordon
Wellington if the cordon was there

Auckland if the cordon was there

5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.