I started to write this blog last week, as an insight into what life here in Christchurch is like. I didn't get around to finishing it and posting it up here, and then yesterday another chapter was added to this story. Be warned, this post does have a sad ending. If you are still in an emotionally fragile state, you may not wish to read the whole post.
While the quake was violently shaking everything in the city, it seemed as if someone was actually trying to destroy the city. It wasn't something I could have imagined, and even now my brain struggles to comprehend it. To describe it, I have a picture in my head of things stacked up in the base of a boardgame box, and someone shaking it from side to side, trying to topple them over. It was horrible watching buildings shake like that, with some starting to crumble. It felt very real, but like what was happening wasn't supposed to happen. This was the worst case scenario, things like this don't actually happen. We prepare in case they do – buildings had been red-stickered and had fences and shipping containers stacked up in front of them to stop the spread of rubble if they had collapsed. These things had been done in case something like this happened, not because it would happen. We had been told after the first quake to expect a magnitude 6, but I think most of us imagined that meant it wouldn't be as bad as the first one.
Afterwards, it kind of felt like the end of the world. I knew it wasn't actually the end of the world, but it did have that feel about it. In a way it was – the end of the world of Christchurch as we knew it. A new chapter in Christchurch's history began that day. Everything changed from that point. It was like someone had hit the reset button, or, to use the boardgame analogy, you had gone back to go, and had to start again. You couldn't expect anything you knew about Christchurch to be like it was before. You had to relearn everything. All I knew in the moments after was that Mel and I were ok, then shortly after, Lucy. Nothing else could be taken for granted. As the day and then week wore on, I learned that my family and friends were ok.
I had parked my car in a parking building, and wasn't sure what to do about it. Should I go and get it? Was it safe to? I still have no idea what condition it is in, and it will probably be weeks before I know. (I have now registered it's whereabout and my contact details with the police, but it could still take some time before it is safe to recover cars from that particular building.)
On the walk home, I didn't know if I could actually get home until I made it there. Walking up Fitzgerald Ave, we learned the bridge was closed to cars. Would I still be able to walk across it? Would my house still be standing? What was it like inside?
You take a lot of things for granted, such as having water, power and sewage systems. Trust that the ground will stay still, trust that buildings are safe. We all lost this in September, but over time it slowly built up again. Now it has been completely shattered, and will take a lot longer to come back this time.
When I first read of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I felt slightly ill, as I had an idea what they must be going through, though to a lesser degree. As the days go by, the scale of their tragedy had put a new perspective on things happening here.
***Warning – sad bit below***
Lastly, the one thing I had hoped wouldn't happen, did happen yesterday. I was reading the list of victims names released, and one jumped out at me. The only New Zealander on the list yesterday, Adrienne Meredith was active in the local craft community. I got to know her at Crafty Business gatherings, and then saw her at various markets we both attended. She was a regular at the Lyttelton market, and a great source of knowledge on which markets were worth attending. She sold under the label Revived in NZ, making clothing and accessories for women and girls. I last saw Adrienne at the Nelson market on New Years day, and I will miss seeing her friendly face at future markets and crafty gatherings. She was working in the PGC building on the day of the earthquake, and sadly was one of those who didn't make it out.
Rest in peace Adrienne. You may be gone, but are not forgotten. xox