Tag Archives: Christchurch

22-2-11 – my story.

My first week of living away from home went amazingly. Parties, outings, new friends, Homage, the best food…I already felt at home. So waking up on the morning of Tuesday, 22nd February, I really had no reason to believe my happy little bubble of life I was already accustomed to should be about to change. I even made it to breakfast that morning amidst my silly Monday night hangover, and did my first wash, and printed out my notes for that day’s lectures. Organisation on the second day of lectures? I know, what?

I sat through Anna’s sociology lecture with her for an hour at 11am as way of returning her act of kindness the previous day where she had endured my first geography lecture with me. And then at 12pm, we had our second psychology lecture. I was lost from the start, and when Anna said it was more like IB biology than psych, my mind – I’m ashamed to say – switched off of its own accord. Needless to say, the lecture theatre breathed an audible sigh of relief when our lecturer finished 7 minutes early. With our brains already turned to mush, Anna and I decided to treat ourselves to lunch at one of the on-campus cafés.

It was here that the happy hubbub of the lunch-hour took a drastic change for the worse. I can’t recall everything completely clearly, but I remember as I was standing in front of the curry counter waiting for Anna to pay, the floor beneath my feet began to move. To start with it felt like the kind of movement you’d feel walking on creaky floorboards in an old house, but soon (it must have only been seconds) we were having trouble standing upright. Some instinct of mine grabbed Anna’s arm and screamed to get down. We crouched together half-under a tiny table. I remember watching the 10 or so other people in the café get under their tables, everyone’s eyes wide with fear, the heavy lights swinging from side-to-side above our heads, the curry sloshing over the counter, the screams from outside… And then, in what was apparently 20 seconds (I lost all track of time), it was over. The power had gone out, but daylight meant there was enough light to see the destruction the earthquake had caused even inside this tiny building where we were. Like Anna, I distinctly recall the café’s owner observing the damage to his business and shaking his head in despair and also a sort of resignation as if to say “Here we go again.”

The quickness with which the earthquake happened meant I still didn’t really know what I had just experienced. One of the girls in the café said to Anna and I as we left, “That was probably about a 5. Welcome to Christchurch guys.” Even she, who clearly lived there, had no idea of the scale of the damage. Our first instinct was to leave, and it is this moment that I keep flashing back to – walking across the usually impossible-to-cross Ilam Road with cars barely moving, and looking behind me to see a huge swarm of students following us and all doing exactly the same thing – phoning their loved ones. By this point I had already txt my parents and Blake, but the congestion and damage to the phone-lines meant I had no idea whether they had got my messages or not.

As I followed Anna down the pathway to her halls of residence (they were the closest to us), the first aftershock hit. Again, the power of it made it nearly impossible to stand upright and the movement of the trees and windows around us made me realise just how much damage the earthquake could have caused. While waiting with Anna at R&R (her halls), I managed miraculously to get a call through to Blake. Amazingly, he was also fine. Getting a txt minutes later from a friend back in Auckland telling me the CBD looked ‘like a bomb had hit it’, I began to appreciate the full-scale of our lucky escapes.

I decided to run back to College House after making sure Anna was OK at R&R, and returned to find everyone huddled on the grass outside the tennis courts, each already sharing their own stories. After waiting for a while in the rain and the cold, the bursar informed us of the damage. There was a damaged stairwell on one of the houses which was inaccessible, as well as a split concrete beam above the dining hall and visible damage on the lawn. He told us our rooms were “a mess, but we’re not sure if that is due to the quake or not. Either way, go and tidy up a bit?” Even this small amount of humour was more than welcome to lighten the mood.

On my way up to my room, Dad managed to get a call through to me. I reassured them that I was OK, but as I opened my bedroom door I couldn’t help but to burst into tears. My photo frames were all over the floor (luckily only one of them smashed), and my jewellery and phone and lamp had been rudely thrown all over the place. I realise that the damage to my room is minute compared to what others have suffered, but the fact that all my belongings which I’d left neatly that morning had been broken and thrown everywhere by some unpredictable force of nature was completely horrible to see. As I was tidying up my things, placing everything on lower shelves, the second aftershock hit. This one was by far the most terrifying. Being on the third floor of the building, the movement was unbearable. I can’t effectively describe the sensation of have a ‘strong’ three-story building swaying beneath you. I saw my lamp and phone fall to the floor again (I don’t know how), and the moment the swaying stopped I ran outside onto the grass with everyone else.

Huddled in blankets and listening to someone’s battery radio, we began to gauge an understanding of the scale of this earthquake. In the hours following when the power eventually came back on, we were also able to watch the news and visually see the devastation of Christchurch CBD. You only had to glance around the faces in the common room to see that we were united in our utter disbelief and shock at the events of the afternoon.

Being unable to access my room because it was on top floor, we were all told to have sleepovers in bottom-floor rooms. This was pretty fun despite the circumstances. The tutors came in just before we went to bed to tell us of the drill in case of an emergency during the night. Talking about flushing toilets (we were having to conserve and boil water), one of them said, “It’s been generally agreed that ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow, but if it’s brown flush it down.'” And then the other tutor piped up, “But if it’s a big one, evacuate.” Everyone cracked up. She was clearly referring to a big aftershock, but yeah…I don’t need to explain where all our minds were at…

After a night of intermittent sleep and 14+ aftershocks, I got to briefly see Blake (and Nick) before starting on the long road-trip home to Auckland. I cannot thank Anna and her parents enough for getting me out of there. If I had had to stay another night or two to wait for flights out of Christchurch, I don’t think I’d have been the happiest of people. It was scary enough for one night, let alone continuing aftershocks still days afterwards. The 10+ hour journey from Christchurch to Picton to Wellington to Auckland to Blake’s was made so much better by Anna being there with me the whole time. I’d hate to imagine how I would have coped alone, so Anna, I am forever thankful 🙂 Also, thanks to Blake and fam for letting me stay for a few days before returning back up North, as well as the boys for our cute little dinner on Friday – it was fantastic to see you all so soon 🙂

And now I’m back home, pondering life. The university’s updates say that 14th March is the earliest re-start date they’re looking at, so I don’t know what my plan is until then. I’m bored here already (although it was good to see my family again), and I feel like I am definitely ready to move out of home – it’s just a question of when and where. I miss Christchurch already, but I can’t help but remind myself that returning to College House and uni down there won’t ever be quite the same as the week I experienced. It is so cruel how people’s lives can be ripped apart so brutally and suddenly. And in that respect, I count myself extremely lucky. I’ve been watching and reading the news every day and my thoughts are constantly with Cantabrians who are suffering from this horrendous act of nature. I know of people who have lost people, and I can only begin to imagine the pain and trauma that they must be experiencing. However, through this event we become stronger together. Nothing I write here could ever compare to the words of PM John Key, Mayor Bob Parker, or Supt. Dave Cliff – everything these three men have said over the past 6 days has been full of respect, encouragement, power and emotion, all at exactly the same time. It’s times like these that we can learn to see ourselves as lucky, even the most unlucky of us. We have support from all over the world – from Christchurch’s own Student Volunteer Army, to rescue teams from the UK, the USA and China. Everyone’s heart goes out to everyone else. We are all thinking of you Christchurch.

This is the first song I remember hearing post-quake (albeit on Friday afternoon in Blake’s car on the radio). But the lyrics ring true.

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I’m being reminded of how isolated I am so I’m gonna blog (but not about that).

Getting full-on indie now. Long and essentially meaningless blog post titles. And short sentences which, in ‘real English’ probably can’t be classified as actual ‘sentences’ because of them lacking some sort of subject or pronoun or verb or something… Anyway, I digress. Here is a list of things of interest dans ma vie at the moment:

– Well, this is my first blog post on my MacBook! I picked it up from Blake on the way back from Christchurch on Thursday. Got it into action on Friday and I think I’ve finally pretty much sorted myself out on it 🙂 Apart from a bit of a kerfuffle trying to transfer my iPod music to iTunes, and again trying to transfer my gmail contacts across to my Address Book, I am loving it. I feel like that guy in the “Hi, I’m a Mac” ads. Except I have no pity for PCs, I’m just better than them. Ha! Oh, and you know how my sister was supposed to be buying my old laptop from me? Well she’s not (Blake and I are gonna smash it up 😀 ), but her solution? Buy a Compaq laptop. I mean, WHAT? It’ll die soon. In the first day of owning it she already managed to ‘lose the mouse’ on the screen. I guess she’ll learn the hard way…

– I had a great day in Christchurch on Thursday. Got shown around my accommodation (College House) by the Dean, but only because we accidentally turned up an hour early for our appointment with some other guy. Hahaha, oh well – it looks really awesome (I was so awed by it that I forgot to take photos, sorry! But there’ll be plenty when I actually move down there I’m sure). It’s based on the Oxford and Cambridge set-up, so we have formal dinners four days a week (with gowns and everything!) and they have debating and cultural evenings and chapel and ALL sorts of fun things 😀 The only thing I have to do myself is laundry, and ironically it’s the only (OK, almost only…) thing I don’t do at home. So either Mum will show me what to do before I go down, or I’ll shrink and dye a few things in the process of teaching myself. Either way. We walked around the city too and it’s so quiet compared to Auckland. I like it 🙂 Here is a photo of the beautiful Christchurch cathedral:

– The flights have been booked to go to Christchurch on the 15th too. I find it incredibly terrifying that in exactly a month I will be longer be living at home… But in exactly a month I will also be a hell of a lot closer to you, and permanently 😀 And as soon as we settle into our study and job routines, we’ll organise Friday night pizza-nights or something cute 🙂 Plus you has a double bed in your room so it’ll be kinda like normal – me always coming to see you rather than the other way round, hehe 😛 But yesh, that is one BIG part that I am looking forward to immensely 😀

– And well, at the moment my life is a little bit on hold. Apart from having a scholarship I need to apply for, I have nothing planned until I go back to Auckland on the 29th (or around then). I’ve been to the beach for the past two days, so I guess I’ll continue that routine until the sun stops shining. And then I’ll just blog and tumblr and facebook my way through the days until I get to see you again. It was so good to see you the other day, even if it was so very briefly. I miss you more and more with each passing day (hence my excitement aforementioned in the previous point).

– Finally, well, CLIVE’S BACK!!! And you’re all getting to hang out and talk about the film tonight and I can’t bloody be there. I suppose this point actually does relate back to this post’s title. Living out here does suck. Whenever I’ve spoken to people over the past few weeks and they’ve asked where I am it’s been pretty much “Oh wow! It’s beautiful up there. But to live? Yeah, bit out of the way…” Which is exactly the point. I’m not about to complain about not having a summer because I sure as hell am weather-wise. I’m just not really getting a summer with friends. I’m not getting to hang out at Kristy’s beach house as was loosely planned, and I don’t get to chill with you and your guys either. But I guess soon enough I will. And soon enough I’ll be making new friends too. I just wish I could spend some proper decent time with the people who matter before I leave the majority of them in favour of Christchurch..

Finally, there’s this beauty:

And this stupid close-up, but it’s cute 😀


I got three-quarters of the way through writing a blog post

and my shitty old laptop (which I’m selling to my sister for $200…hahahaha) crashed. So I’m gonna summarise for you, because I cannot be arsed typing it all out again.

– I’m back up North. Weather is fabulous. Tried running, failed at it. Thinking I might just wait until I get cheap gym fees at uni.

– IB results. Fairly happy. The buzz has kinda died down now on facebook/in general. My grades were incredibly unexpected. As I said in a facebook status the other day, they very clearly reflect a loss of motivation over the 3 weeks of exams, as well as how much of the ‘study week’ I spent studying for exams which were in the first week (all of it…) Main success = ecosystems, main downfall = psychology (I would say French but I kinda deserve a 4 after literally zero study). Overall, I’m all good for university and that’s all that matters.

– Going down to Christchurch this coming Thursday to look around College House. It’s an expensive day-trip, but je suis très excitè 🙂 Planning on sussing out potential places of employment too, seeing as money’s gonna be pretty low what with me not having had a summer job between school and uni…

– My MacBook arrived today!!!!!! This is slightly anti-climatic as I don’t physically have it yet. But it’s in your hands which means it’ll be in mine soon 😀 A working laptop. What a novel idea…

– Finally, relationships. This was going to be a rant of its own but I don’t trust my laptop to survive long enough for me to be able to get it all out. Basically, despite the way it seems (to me anyway) that many others at the moment are, as one of my friends put it, becoming victim to the “bad season for relationships”, we’re fine. Of course we are though 😀 I miss you like hell, and the first few days after leaving you are always the worst. But it’s less than 20 days til I see you again. It’s a fair while, but after that…well, Christchurch together. Us + uni does sort of scare me, I’ll admit. Neither of us really have any idea what it’s going to be like. But, hopefully, we’ll find ‘us’ time in our little lives down there somewhere.  We’ll make it work anyway, that’s for sure 🙂

– And FINALLY finally (sorry to be a pain…), I miss my friends 😦 All of youuuuuuuuuuuuuu. I wanted to go to the movies tonight, and I want to go visit Sacha and Anna and Hayley and sort out a trip somewhere with Kristy too before we go our separate ways! But whether it’ll actually get sorted out and happen, I don’t know. I desperately want it to. Grrr, silly distance. You are a bitch.

I can’t actually play this video on my fuckass internet connection, but it was a bit of a summer anthem of mine a few years ago (JESUS, 2006!). It  has relevance to current events (kinda), and I miss it.


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