I lived in Christchurch until I was eighteen. There was a really big earthquake there on Tuesday. The death toll stands at 146 and around 200 people are missing at the time of my writing this. My dad was rescued from the collapsed Provincial Chambers building two hours after the quake, having spent the last two hours trying to keep his PA calm who had broken her back in the impact of the quake. When I learned about the collapsed buildings I was sent home from work and the hour I spent, detached and nervous and on an entirely different island, waiting for news about my dad was terrible. I'm really, really lucky that all of my friends and family are alive. A girl whom I went to school with has lost her fiancé, the father of her two children under three. The mood in Christchurch, and in Wellington where I live is understandably bleak. My grandma cries to me on the phone about all of the reporters she watched on the television every night for years, lost in the collapsed CTV building. My sister's best friend was given one minute to run into her house and grab her cellphone before it was demolished. Upon seeing my grandparents sitting in the dark, drinking long life milk and listening to the radio my dog fell to floor and cried for ten minutes. Both of the heritage buildings that my parents work in are in ruins. This explains my blogging silence this week because I sort of can't bring myself to post the trivial things I have been writing about. It seems heartless and tactless to post about offensive Facebook groups and insipid New Zealand television shows right now. I will again, in a few days, but I seem to feel guilty about everything right now.
[The Provincial Chambers building where my dad works. Photograph taken by Asher Trafford.]
In the last week I've been to three plays (it's the Fringe) and one gig (my friend Bryony had a plus one) and turned twenty three and had a party (my girlfriend and I had already created the Facebook event and people seemed to need some kind of catharsis because we were noise controlled and the washing line fell down and a pole in our kitchen was broken) and at that party I danced to S Club 7 and the Rhythm of the Night and Blink 182. I've tweeted irrelevant things about lentils and I changed my girlfriend's Facebook status to read "Ally Garrett is the princess of the earth" when she left her profile logged on. I had a massage and ate Pizza Pomodoro and watched Zoo Babies and New Zealand's Hottest Home Baker and had sex (twice) and received gifts and went to work every morning and tonight I'm going to make cannelloni for tea and all the time I've been thinking about Christchurch. I can't stop feeling guilty no matter how much I tell myself, in the words of my friend Sarah, that self care is a radical act. I guess this is normal because I'm grieving for the city I grew up in, probably, and it least it means that I have thrown all my spare change into every Red Cross bucket I've seen and donated to the SPCA and Paw Justice. Kent, Stevie and I have taken tampons and deodorant and toilet paper and things to Wellington Women's Refuge, to re-balance the load, as there has been an increase in domestic violence in Christchurch since the earthquake.
[The other side of the Provincial Chambers. Photograph taken by Asher Trafford.]
In part, this post is selfish, because it feels wrong to write anything here without acknowledging what has happened. I've been humbled at the number of people who, at my suggestion, have donated the cost of buying me a birthday cider to the Women's Refuge or to the SPCA or to the Red Cross. (These links will take you to websites where you can donate for readers who have any pennies to spare.) For those who want to know more about the earthquake for me it has been this piece of writing and this set of (very triggering) photographs that have brought the magnitude of the disaster home for me. I know that life does go on and that soon, a return to as much normalcy as possible is important because in a way this means there is hope for the future. But for now, Christchurch, I am thinking about you.