The one where 20 seconds changed everything

It’s hard to know where to start this one, I have so much in my brain! Lots of people have been sharing their reflections two years on from February 22nd 2011. It’s been really good to read and listen, and consider my own thoughts and feelings now that some time has passed.

On reflection, I think I was pretty deeply traumatised for the first six months after the earthquake. I had all the classic signs – inability to concentrate, feeling restless or anxious, easily stressed, trouble sleeping, random crying. I’m glad that part has passed – as I knew it would.

But it’s been hard to move on. After a traumatic event – like when someone dies suddenly – there is a period of shock, and then grieving and a sense of loss, and then eventually a letting go. I wish I could. Sometimes people express surprise to me that it’s still at the top of my mind – something I still talk about a lot (are you sick of hearing about it? If you’re not from round here, probably).

If you were in Christchurch every day, you would understand why most of us haven’t been able to put it behind us. I’ve moved from shock, to grieving, a sense of loss, to road cones and destruction and waiting for insurance companies and EQC and being told that it’s a long road ahead. My every day starts with remembering what we’ve been through and where we are up to – I back down my driveway and have to think about what to do next – I never quite know where the roads will be closed, detouring, causing banked-up traffic. It reminds me everyday what I went through.

Sometimes people ask why don’t I just leave this dangerous, depressing place. Think about it. Would you leave your home, your job, your children, your grandchildren, your friends and extended family if you were in my shoes? That seems like the opposite of a good idea. They are what hold me together. I would be less frustrated by road cones somewhere else, but I’d be leaving my entire life behind. So for now, this is where I stay (sometimes I feel a little trapped, but it passes).

And because I’m not one to wallow in the boo-hoos, there are some great things happening too. Reality has changed, and to be honest most of it sucks, but here and there are bright little sparks of awesomeness that make it a bit better. Our wrecked city is actually looking pretty cool in places. It’s like someone bombed it and then left children to rebuild. There are strange and colourful gap fillers popping up all over the place. I love them so much – going to the city it makes me so happy to see a pavilion made from wooden pallets, a mall made from containers, a library in a fridge, a cathedral made from cardboard for goodness sake! We had the city pulled out from under us, and people have been so creative about poking bits of it back in. I hope it stays, and grows.

I sat in Latimer Square today (it was a triage zone for the city on the day) with hundreds of others today and thought about all this. People talking about their thoughts and feelings. What are my thoughts and feelings? My thought is “the recovery is taking forever, I want to move on”, and my feelings are “grief and loss and sadness and happiness”.

Those 20 seconds on February 22nd 2011 changed everything. We can’t go back and the way forward will be slow. That’s reality for me.

Queenstown

We rolled through Queenstown a couple of years ago, and it was the first time I’d been here since the 1980s. It seemed like a soulless place. I’ve been back a few times since, and it’s growing on me.

It certainly is a strange place, made up almost entirely of cafes, bars, restaurants and tourist shops. I’ve only ever been here in winter before, when the place is thick with skiers and adventurers. This time of the year it’s full of hot young things trying with all their might to pretend they are laying on the shores of a tropical beach. In reality, the lake is freezing and I’m not game enough for anything more than a paddle.

I’ve had a really lovely weekend here though. Considering Queenstown’s reputation as the adventure capital of New Zealand, it has a really laid-back vibe.

We’ve had a great time just lazing around in the sun and going for walks. It’s magnificent!

Hallo 2013

I’ve been cogitating about this post for a while…I always spend some time in January thinking about what I want to achieve in the year to come. It seems that the older I get, the harder it is to set goals for myself – I have achieved most of the big life-goals that I set for myself in my 20s. Now I’m just picking luxury goals really. Anyway, here it is, my year ahead:

I want to pass roller derby freshmeat and join the Dead End Derby league. I started doing the roller derby training last year just to keep Megan company, but I’ve decided I love it! I’m not the fastest or the toughest, but I’m doing okay for a former couch potato that only strapped on roller skates for the first time 6 months ago.

I’m looking forward to lots of little family getaways and some romantic mini-breaks. In my sights for this year are Tekapo and Queenstown in winter, Rarotonga to break up the winter, and Auckland to see my nieces and nephew.

I’d like to see a new roller skating rink getting underway somewhere in Christchurch. This is a pretty ambitious goal. I’ve never done anything like this before, and people more knowledgeable than me have not managed it yet. But I’ll give it my all and see what comes of it.

And you know what…I’ve scoured my brain and I can’t come up with anything else! I’m looking forward to a year of hard work in my job which I love (almost) everyday, fun times with my favourite people, meeting new friends, lots of good food, laughs and kicking back.

If I get the the end of 2013 having achieved all this, it will have been a mighty fine year indeed.