I’ve watched as other people have published their stories from two years ago when much of Christchurch was damaged in a powerful earthquake, stories so different from mine.
I drove to work that day, listening to news on the radio, pregnant belly bulging out above the seatbelt. Work was much as usual – I think it got windy later that day and so we cancelled the afternoon skydives. I don’t really remember the details. It was sunny. The summer was warm in Wanaka.
What I remember, though, is anxiety that carried through our neighbors’ families that day and for a week afterwards.
On the first day they didn’t know whether he’d survived.
On the second they were told that he’d died.
On the third they were told that sorry, it couldn’t really be confirmed either way before the autopsy results were published and that was going to take a while longer.
I don’t remember how long they waited. I think six days, carrying on with their lives but really simply pacing backwards and forwards and simply wanting an answer. Shopping for groceries, having showers, watching the news and knowing that most probably he’d died that day as he’d never been heard from afterwards, but, really, not knowing it for sure.
All the while Christchurch families were appearing in Wanaka, kids enrolling in Mt Aspiring College, people opening up their homes and batches for those wanting to get away from it all.
A mother from Europe calling up our dropzone, asking if we’d possibly had a girl named this-and-this skydive with us – a daughter she hadn’t heard from since two days earlier, all whilst we knew there had been unidentified backpackers at YHA.
I don’t have much of a story from February 22, 2011. Christchurch, to me, is a city of traffic cones, bumpy roads, broken neighborhoods and soaring (rental) prices. I don’t pang for the buildings that aren’t there – to me it’s just neighborhoods “with nothing there”.
So if anything, I re-live and carry the earthquake legacy through the people I’ve met – ones who had much more traumatic experiences from that day, and I listen and nod.
But to me, Christchurch isn’t a traumatic city. It’s just a place I’ve come to live in and, maybe, that’s a good thing.