– Burnside High School

I had moved here from America and had been living in New Zealand for exactly one month. The culture was fresh, the people were different and I had a hard time placing myself in a different country.

The day before I turned sixteen was regular, and seemingly normal. I was sitting on a bench with a group of people I didn’t know to well, waiting for my friend that I usually ate lunch with but she hadn’t shown so I was drawing. Looking up at the sky it was rather cloudy and dull and the air had a stormy scent. The first bell went, not wanting to get to class too early I waited for a few minutes then put my pen and paper in my bag and walked across the quad toward my chemistry classroom which was on the other side of the school. Nearly there, just about to pass under the covered walkway. I could see the entrance to my classroom which was disguised by plants. A rumble sounded in the distance, and a thunder shot through the clouds. I looked up to the deep gray cover of cloud “Yep, It’s going to rain” I thought. I just reached the walkway and the ground began to move… actually move, as if it were unstable. That wasn’t thunder, that rumble was not a storm it was the ground, the earth. I grabed hold of the pole that lined and held up the covered walkway. I looked behind me, where I had just come from and I saw the concrete ground move like the ocean moves but I isn’t suppose to do that. With the ground everything else shook from side to side. There were no noises except for the screams of other students but even those were muffled and numb. I heard my own breathing quite well, which made me feel isolated and alone from the people near me. The shaking kept going, I tried to walk and do something but i couldn’t, the ground was too unstable.

Gradually the shaking stoped, but I didn’t trust the ground anymore and I had a hard time walking normally. I thought I was fine, but my thoughts that had been kept silent now flooded everypart of me. “I am ok, alive, it’s fine. Was that an earthquake? I was in an earthquake. A nartual disaster. People die in those. Where are the people? Are they gone?” and with that I was crying, shaking, nauseous, and out of breath. Someone simpathetically asked if I was ok, but all I could do was shake my head and ask where to go and they said to the field and to find my form teacher. I walked straight ahead, still crying, shivering even though I wasn’t cold, and still unable to completely gain my balance.

I found my form class. I didn’t stop shaking, or crying even though I was around people and safe considering there wasn’t anything to fall on me. Everyone was tring to get a hold of their family members. I lived right across the road so I wasn’t as worried. When the first after shock happend I felt like I was getting beat up by a bully that was hitting me while I was already down.

Eventaully, after nearly an hour, kids began to go home and parents came. My mom showed up and needed to find my sister, so I walked home on my own. She was quite hesitant to let me go but I told her I needed to get home, I just couldn’t stay here. I walked to the gate that opened to memorial and walked across the street. My dad was in the car listening to the news and when he saw me enter the driveway he jumped out of the car. When I saw him, I broke down crying again and hugged him.

When I heard the news later that day, and I heard how many people had died, the damage in town and I felt guilty for crying so much because I was fine, but there were people who weren’t at all. But the truth is that things happen to all of us, and we feel what we feel about them. Even though an experience may be seen as worse than another experience, the feeling these expereinces produce may be the same. We are who we are about things. During the whole day of February 22, I couldn’t stop thinking about 9/11. I was living in Pennsylvania when the planes hit the towers, and the Pentagon. I remember how I felt that day more than I remember it specifically. That feeling was exactly how I felt on September 22; that fear and utter sadness which is why this day frightened me so much. Except, with 9/11 there was an enemy, a person or people to blame, and a justice that could be served. No one made this earthquake happen, there is no one to blame. This just happend. Even with other natural disasters, they can be seen before they arrive and the proper precausions can be taken. Earthquakes just happen. There is no justice, or revenge to be taken here. There is however recovery, and mending that can be done to the city, and the society.
This is my story, and this was my first year living in New Zealand.

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