Friday, February 24, 2012

On 22/2/12

I haven’t written a post for ages; the start of the school year has been insanely busy. I have thought of a few things I’ve wanted to write about, and so this afternoon I made the decision to write a post about the 22nd of February, 2012. It was either that or a post about how much I hate inconsequential punishments like detention…and whilst the latter topic is much more in line with the general theme of my blog, I think the former is more personal, and it’s definitely more topical, and therefore possibly (hopefully) more interesting.

So, here we are, one year on from the 22nd February 2011, and really all ‘one year on’ means is that the earth has completed one full orbit around the sun.

Yet we recognise one year as a celebratory anniversary for many events – a year of life (which is definitely a great achievement, for a baby or young child especially), or a year of marriage/partnership (also quite a cool achievement, assuming that things have gone well in the relationship of course). But when it’s a year of being without someone close to you, or some big horrid event that screwed over a large number of people, it’s not a celebration, obviously, and therefore it’s not fun, or enjoyable. And so about two weeks ago I realised that I really didn’t really need the media hype around the 22nd of February 2012.

The impending gloom of it was obvious – the mass media love a good grief-fest, and it’s not like we’ve been living in The Land of Chocolate down here. So this week, I tried to avoid the news (which is very hard these days when you have Wifi and a typical, modern-day, mild internet addiction). When I flicked onto Facebook on Wednesday 22nd February, I flicked away again very quickly. And I didn’t really need, or want, two minutes of silence at 12:51pm, along with 2800 other people in my school. Having said that, the embarrassed, smirking faces of the 13 year old boys in my class during that two minutes was actually quite comforting – it made me feel like I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t really into standing there and being coerced into reflecting on stuff that I’d already thought about over and over again.

If two minutes silence and memorials and ceremonies work for people – to help them ease the pain, to remember those who were lost, to remind them of the plight of those left behind, to think about the future and be hopeful - that’s cool, but different people deal with stuff in different ways, and at different times. And when you are living in Christchurch, it’s actually really hard to forget what happened. Personally, I don’t need to be reminded. Because every day I drive along munted streets, past munted houses and businesses, and I miss the flat, boring normality of pre-quake Christchurch. Every week I swim in an overcrowded, 25 metre pool, dodging children that streak across in front of me and occasionally yelling at kids who stop and hang out on the lane ropes. I miss the large 50 metre pool that I could swim up and down in at my leisure – those were days when I, occasionally, got a whole lane to myself (which is ridiculously luxurious, I know…there’s nothing luxurious about Christchurch pools now). Every time I pull into my drive and hear the clunk-clunk of the loose slabs of driveway under my car I am reminded that my property needs work and that I am most probably stuck here in Christchurch for quite some time, because who knows when EQC will deliver, and who wants to buy a slightly-munted house two blocks from the red zone in east Christchurch in the next 10 years anyway? Don’t get me wrong – I love my house and I (we) had planned to stay here a while, but when you buy a house and the land that it sits on (and you buy insurance too - I thought we got it in case I left the stove on…), it’s very hard to comprehend the possibility of thousands of 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, a handful of 6s, and a 7 attempting to rip their way through your property over the course of 18 months, and then consequently being stuck in it for the unforeseeable future. And, most horribly, every time I go to the doctor these days, I am reminded of my old doctors’ surgery, The Clinic, that relocated into the CTV building not long before the 6.3. I’d been a patient there for over 8 years because the doctors and nurses were so empathetic and people-focused. It’s hard not to think about those who are gone when I sit in the waiting room, waiting for my new doctor to call me in.

Everyone in this city has a story and has been affected in some way or other – some much more than others, I realise that. And I’m one of the lucky ones in terms of how little the quakes have affected my life. So I would hate to tell people what to feel, or how to deal with what they are feeling, or even when to grieve and reflect. And that’s what irked me about February 22nd 2012.

But I want to end this post on a positive note. One thing that I did appreciate about February the 22nd was the flowers-in-road-cones thing. I came across an Avonside Girls’ High girl on Tuesday evening putting together amazing posies of ferns and flowers in the road cones just up the road. The road-cones were transformed from ugly, muddy, sand-covered, plastic points into vibrant vases of beautiful flower arrangements. Sometimes – no, often – teenagers are really awesome.

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