For me, this week has two anniversaries in it. The first, and for my family the most important one, is that my wonderful parents are celebrating 60 years of marriage (as of yesterday). We have a family get together planned for Sunday, but in the meantime, many congratulations to them both. I have been around to celebrate nearly all of them...
Last night we were treated to the rumble of a long and rolling 4.9 aftershock at 3.29 am, from the fault line on the eastern side of the city. It hauled most of the city awake in heart thumping memory. Two days before the anniversary of our first dawn awakening, to a 7.1 from the fault line on the west side of the city, and Twitter and Facebook still run red hot after an event, guesses are still made as to magnitude, direction, depth and which fault line it has come from based on behaviour, noise, length of shaking, how much falls off shelves and so on. Unwilling seismic knowledge; this time a year ago we spent the day of Sept 3rd in blissful ignorance of the Mercalli scale, liquefaction, of children making a turtle under desks, seismic gum, and how a city copes with death, fear, loss and living in a disaster zone.
Last night we went to the Arts Festival concert with Dave Dobbyn and the Symphony Orchestra, where he said we were the only city in the world with a virtual CBD. In fact, he said some lovely things, and at a time when we know there is probably little sympathy left for the city as it drains the coffers of New Zealand, it moved the large audience very much. Staunch and surviving despite it all, it was nice to hear some genuine words. They are not always as nice.... for example:
The Dominion Post Editorial comments - New Zealand sympathises with Christchurch; it has endured an ordeal unlike any other in recent time. But bad things happen to good people and others suffer personal crises, too. Personal and financial loss is part of life. Usually, the state does not step in to help. On this occasion, it has – with the support of most Kiwis. But there has to be a limit.There is of course some truth in the words - the truth always hurts, but the scale of the loss for so many and the impact it is having makes it hard to not fight for the best they can get to move on and rebuild their lives. I worry most about the people who will never get another mortgage.
There are many videos floating around of the central business district and the demolition of the red zone. I can't watch these videos without feeling that colonial Christchurch has returned - the empty land, the dirt streets. A stranger in a strange, but vaguely familiar land.... this one from that page was taken by a contractor using a camera on his van on August 11th.
We have also been deeply affected by the inquests into the people who have died in the earthquake.
These were initially happening earlier, but were eventually rescheduled after the two quakes on June 13th caused building evacuations. They make harrowing reading and are a reminder that although it might be a year since we first had an earthquake, the true memories, the real anniversary, will be for the people lost on 22/2.
As we struggle with some issues here, it puts everything into perspective.