One year ago today, is a day marked indelibly in my mind. In the minds and hearts of my country, and on the face of my city. I had tickets to see you at Al's Bar that night. I was excited, Christchurch doesn't get a lot in the way of international performers, ones that I care about anyway, so I was looking forward to it. I got a bit delayed at work around lunchtime and we ended up going for lunch around 12.40pm.
At 12.51pm that day, as I was leaving the bakery with an apple slice and a ham sandwich, we were hit with an earthquake. We'd had one before, and several subsequent aftershocks, but this one was different. At the first lurch, the building next to the bakery began to collapse. Dad, my workmate and I ran from the bakery out onto the road as the wall and ceiling of the bakery smashed into the ground. The two things that stuck with me most vividly, other than the shaking, was the complete lack of sound. It was like a shockwave, had just ... like there was so much sound that my brain couldn't comprehend it. The second thing was the dust. Dad's car was parked over the road from the bakery and it was just covered in dust.
We knew it'd been bad, the damn bakery fell on us, but we didn't really know what the rest of the city was like. After I'd tweeted my bakery photo, though I was relatively new to twitter, one of the next pictures I remember seeing was one you'd retweeted, of the Catherdal spire in the middle of town, crumbled and broken. And the news that you wouldn't be playing at Al's Bar.. which is complete common sense in retrospect, but at the time, nothing logically followed on from anything. Everything had to be spelled out.
The next few days I don't really remember now. We had power back on at home by Friday morning. Even reading through my blogs from the days after, everything just seemed too big.
Fast forward eleven months, and you finally make it to Christchurch =) I wasn't going to make it to your ninja gig in Hagley Park because I had work, but I blew work off and came down. So glad I did. So glad that I could be a part of that experience, with you and Brian and Hera and the crowd. It was just a little bit magical.
At the ninja gig you asked how Christchurch was doing, to a fairly muted response.. but then the next day you got out and saw it yourself. Things are still very, very broken. Local government would like to tell you 'Christchurch is open for business'.. and pockets of it are.. but it's not the Christchurch we knew. You saw the little book repository in a fridge. You saw notes and flowers attached to the hurricane-wire barriers. I'm not sure if you saw the rubble where people had planted wildflowers, and all the colours had sprung up through the rubble of once-were-shops.
That's how I feel Christchurch is. Still buried in a layer of figurative rubble.. but trying so hard to push through, to reach out and touch the sunlight, to move forward from this ridiculous event. But it's so hard. I don't know if collectively we really have strength. I think what we have, as a city, is hope, with a little bit of imagination, compassion, faith and love.
Your gig the night after that blew my mind. There was so much energy, and so much.. love.. not in a soppy way.. just in a real 'you guys have had a shit time, and we're totally here to make you feel better' kind of way. After our first earthquake in September of 2010, Metallica came and played Christchurch. They had a lot of love for us "in our time of need", but that was different.. there had been no deaths in September. It was a shock, and some damage occurred, but not the wholesale destruction of February, and then June, and then December of last year.
So I can honestly say what you shared with us on the 25th of January, was probably one of the best, most important nights of my life.