Blog: Shock to the senses
Last updated 08:39 14/06/2011
The little girl with blonde ringlets clung to her glass of coke with wide eyes. ''I don't like it,'' she said while her coke shimmyed about the counter top doing the nasty dance all of Christchurch is far too familiar with.
At her feet her little dog quivered.
Across the counter from her I quivered too. I wanted to say that I didn't like it either but I felt too frightened to form words. I tried to smile at her while looking above me to see what was in danger of falling on us.
When the 5.5 hit I was on the phone to a nice scientist in Palmerston North who didn't miss a beat when I started swearing down the phone at him before ultimately hanging up on him mid sentence.
Later he emailed to say that he'd heard about the quake and that I should ''keep on truckin'' so it was somewhat ironic that I was in a truckstop conducting another interview when the 6 hit.
Little Miss 4 and I locked eyes and it registered somewhere that I should appear calm, if only for her sake, even if I felt like bursting into tears.
''The silly earth is farting again,'' I said, while watching bottles around us moving back and forth.
''No it isn't,'' she said, albeit with a naughty little giggle.
When it ended I told her she had been very brave and asked her to give me a high five.
She gave me one with much enthusiasm. Still shaking, her little dog licked my knuckles and I realised I was still shaking too.
Finally talking to my own children the tears come.
It breaks my heart that my two-year-old's first words are all earthquake related. One of her first words was ''shakey''. Now she's joining words. Today she said ''I'm scared''.
Enough is enough. I don't know if I can take this any more. Aftershock? Afterbloodyterror more like.
When will it end?
Just like the faults rupturing all over the bloody place, the trauma is closer to the surface than I imagined it was.
Trying to text my family and friends straight afterwards shot me straight back to February 22.
I observed someone on their first day at work in Christchurch looking around at us all somewhat bewildered as we stampeded out of our Portacom and started frantically trying to contact loved ones.
I could see him thinking 'was that one bad?' not realising, as Christchurch quake veterans do, that if it felt that bad here somewhere else had really gotten it in the neck.
Around me friends cried, others read out where they had heard the epicentre was ''Oxford'', ''Ferrymead'', ''a house has fallen into the sea'' said another. Another's mum was in the supermarket and text ''hit by flying pumpkin but ok''. My mum text me with ''rockin' and rolling again'' and an unhappy face.
As someone who lives for rock and roll, I've had a guts full of this particular rocking and rolling.
My heart breaks for the people on the east side of Christchurch.
In these times the power of Facebook shines through. A friend messages me from Auckland - could I somehow check on his 88-year-old mother who lives alone in Aranui? A Facebook message to a friend who lives in Brisbane gets to her father, a fireman who also lives in Aranui, quicker than I could contact him on downed phone lines. She is fine and ''happily camping out''. Neighbours who, pre-quake, she complained about having noisy parties, are ''loves'' who have set her up with hot water bottles, water and dinner.
Eventually I make contact with my friends who live in New Brighton, South Shore, Parklands, Bexley and Aranui and they're all as stoic as always.
''Same shit different day,'' says one who has spent all afternoon ''shovelling shit''.
''Bigger gap in the kitchen now. Fletchers were supposed to turn up tomorrow I hope they still show,'' says another.
Another was showing EQC the damage to his property when the 6 hit.
''They'd just finished. Now I suppose I'll have to wait months for them to come back again to check out the new damage,'' he said.
For others it's the final straw. They might have signed the pledge to stay but now they want out.
Right now one of my best mates is cooking tea for her hubby and three kids on the barbecue, seated around a camplight.
''The sausages defrosted quicker than I thought they would on the barbecue. No power and flooding again,'' she says with a slight quaver in her voice. ''But we're OK, none of us are hurt.''
But we all hurt, even if our scars can't be seen with the naked eye.
- The Press