Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Stories Part Two

Here I sit once again, a glass of whiskey in my hand, my foot propped up and aching like buggery, trying to find the words.

Five and a half months wasn't good enough for you Mistress Gaia? Alrighty, I'm saying my safe word. I submit. I tap out. Enough. Stop hurting me. I'm really tired, and I thought the ground had stopped shaking after all this time - now you want to keep me awake again, make me angry again, make me lose my metaphorical feet again?

It's Not Fair. I want my life back.

After September 4th, I felt I couldn't or shouldn't say much, because everyone else had a story, and they were possibly telling them better than me. I didn't want to be just one more person cashing in on tragedy.

But have to say...I'm Alive, and I can't quite grasp how fortunate I am. My city is teetering on the edge and I feel so selfish that I've got my glass of Cap'n Jack (the bottle, once again, survived the fling onto the floor), a roof over my head, my friends and family are safe, some people I know are far worse off than me, and the worst that I've lost is some more glassware. Oh, woe is me.

But it is woe. Christchurch is a city in ruins, and the destruction is only just outside my door. It's a city that will now take decades to recover, not just months or a few years. September 4th was hard. This is hell.

I'm not the praying kind. I don't need a god to hold on to. I only need myself, my SO, and my comfort spaces. And through it all, even through my shaking until the early hours and hysterical proclamations that I was leaving the city for good, I know I'm not leaving. I love this stupid, annoying, gorgeous, flat, green, tin bum city. Big enough to be something, small enough to cross in an hour. My friends are here, my family are close enough.

I like it here.

I like the restaurants: it makes me ache for darling Pedro that his restaurant has vanished, for all that he toughed out his broken house in September last year and re-opened his precious place. He might not know me, but Christchurch loves him (ETA: I heard that Pedros house was destroyed and his son was in the CTV building - Just....). Simos, oh Simos - after you  took your place at the Crowne Plaza, only to have your place literally rent in two. 

I like the nightlife: now the majority of it, because it was all so central, is probably rubble. 205 and Le Plonk, the best two bars in town. Lichfield and Poplar Lanes, with nooks and crannies galore. The Atrium at the Crowne Plaza with it's beautiful glass ceiling and elevators was a regular place for a nightcap and dessert - now gone. Will it ever be the same?

You might look at my pretensions and think "why be so worried about some restaurants and bars, when life has been lost here?! How insensitive are you?!". I'm not insensitive. I just can't process the loss of life yet - it's like watching a disaster in another part of the world at the moment for me. Everyone grieves in their own way, and it takes me a long time to process death. I can't comprehend that this is happening in my city.

What I DO know is that I've lost are places that I love, things that mean something to me.

The Hotel Grand Chancellor - watching it lean, ready to fall, is like watching a part of my life ready to fall. I spent my first night of married life in that hotel.

Simos, Pedros, the bars - where I spent many happy hours with family and made great friends. Now we can never go back there for birthdays, celebrations.

Twenty fours on, passed the shock and hurt and first sleepless night, I can now say I'm not ashamed that I fell to the floor screaming as it tossed me down for the count. I'm not ashamed to say I continued screaming, throwing curses at the sky once I stumbled out of my work building. I wailed like my world was coming to an end because it WAS coming to an end. September 4th may have made a few gaps in the skyline. February 22nd FLATTENED the skyline.

Now, if I could only figure out how I broke my foot...


  1. David Grice aka GraveyFebruary 23, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    "and they were possibly telling them better than me" After that, not a chance in hell. Whatever else has failed you through this disaster, your words, my friend, have not.

    I know you are incredibly strong and don't actually need this, but remember that you have lost and suffered too. And sometimes the really big losses - loss of life and home - are somehow easier to cope with than these supposed smaller losses. The big ones are so big they envelope you much more.

    You have all lost lives. Some literally, some figuratively. Your life as you once knew it is gone forever. And despite all the suffering and pain and loss you are going through, and will continue to go through for some time, you **will** come out of it. And you will marvel at your strength in dealing with such horrible events.

    Like so many, I grieve for you. For you all. And for me it is times like this, safely ensconced far away (but not so far for it to feel disconnected), that I am surprised by the welling of love and compassion I feel at times like this.

    I am glad you are unashamed. It is important to not feel bad about feeling bad - even those who have come out supposedly unscathed. Because noone really has.

  2. Thanks Gravey D :)

    It's weird and odd and disconcerting all at the same time. I was conscious throughout, but all I remember is hiding under my desk and screaming, but hearing the boys LAUGHING. I'm sure I'm not remembering right because I don't remember how I GOT on the floor, or how I bashed my foot so bad (seriously, how do you NOT remember how you break an appendage?!).

    By the by, I forgot to add: my SO was over at my place within minutes, the wee sausage. He was luckily at the gym only just around the corner. That's another thing I forget how fortunate I am about: we found each other immediatly. I told him to delete the incoherent message I left on his cell, it's embarrassing.

  3. I don't think anyone reasonable could accuse you of being pretentious of insensitive - I would feel like my world was ending too. Everyone in Chch and so much of NZ has a lot of pain over this, and it's all valid. I agree that it's important not to feel bad about grieving. I had a cry and I'm not connected to Chch, just because it's really really awful.
    Also I'm a new reader, hello!

  4. Hey Octavia, welcome to the Pickled Zone :)

    I haven't had really good cry yet. Been on and off. I tend to manifest into snarkiness or anger.

    Starting to get survivors guilt though.

  5. I can't imagine what it is like to see your city this way. And to experience something so terrifying.

    Just know we are all here for you. When you need us. We're just hanging around, waiting, making sure if you call we are there to answer.

    I'm so glad you made it out alive x