How to understand this blog

Sunday, September 4, 2011

one year on

Today, it's one year on from the first major earthquake in the Canterbury region. When it happened, it's safe to say I had no idea how much things would change in Christchurch over the coming year. As you will probably be able to tell from reading my first earthquake blog post.

As I have probably said before, I'm a bit sceptical about the whole idea of officially remembering things based on an arbitrarily-selected portion of time. Also, it was really the February quake that turned things upside down.

Still, everyone else is doing it, and there's something about experiencing the sudden onset of spring at the moment that makes it easy to remember how things were a year ago.

And there's no denying that it was the September quake that made earthquakes a part of our consciousness. By the time the February quake hit, we'd been through thousands of miniature ones, almost every day. We'd seen our city closed to us, and we'd seen it reopened, and I for one had gained an entirely new perspective on the preciousness of my city. I remember sitting in the courtyard of the Dux de Lux sometime in January or early February looking out over the Gothic Revival architecture of the Arts Centre, a cold Pimms in hand, thinking how lucky I was to live in such a pleasant city and how close we'd come to losing it.

I can't remember all that much about the September earthquake, except that I was shaken awake, and it was very dark because all the streetlights went off and I thought vaguely to myself, wow, this is quite a reasonably sized earthquake. I wasn't even sure if it was worth getting up and checking on my flatmates until I heard them stumbling around in the dark. One of them was beside herself and I felt slightly frustrated with her, especially as I was still half-asleep and couldn't really grasp what was going on. One of them slept through it, which is kind of unbelievable in hindsight, but true. After checking on her, we sat around in the dark with candles on (apparently that's a big no-no) for about twenty minutes, I decided it must have been the Alpine Fault and hoped the people in the West Coast would be okay - has no idea that it was actually far closer to us. "Oh well," I said. "Let's go to bed."

The power stayed off until about 10am, and only then, when we were able to turn on the TV, did I start to realise what was going on.

Since then:
  • we take less for granted, and we plan for everything that could go wrong.
  • our social lives have become much more home-based. There are just far fewer places open.
  • "quaking" is one of the largest labels on the right sidebar of this blog.
  • we have a whole new vocabulary: "liquefaction", "munted", etc.
  • we are never at a loss for small talk or for conversation starters.
  • we have shaken our way through more than 8,000 sizeable quakes. It's a part of life now. And who knows when it will stop?
  • we have had to put up with a new mythology growing, outside Christchurch, of "resilient Cantabrians" or "tough southerners" when in fact so many people feel fragile, under siege, and would like the rest of the country to understand this.
  • having said that - I've personally learned a lot and come to understand myself a lot more.
  • we've started noticing when bad things happen abroad.
  • we've lost some people, some places and some things we can never recover.


Sarakastic said...

I've always admired your beautiful pictures of where you live, so sorry this had to happen there

Amy Seven-Stitches said...

Nicely put Allie.