The time of earthquakes

Your mother and I fell in love during the time of earthquakes. The roads were broken and sinking, dust blew everywhere, and the gardens of abandoned houses grew wild. We had no flushing toilet, and sometimes no power or water, but we had each other. We came to see the land differently: not as you see it now, hard and dependable. More like a jelly that would set to vibrating every so often. We would hear the deep rumble, and we would feel the tremors move through us, lying in bed or sitting, checking emails, or standing in the kitchen. We were not afraid, but we were tired. We lived in a wrung out, strung out city. We made the best we could of things as the were, and we knew that everything breaks sooner or later, but you make do with what you have while you have it. And we held onto each other, and we saw people come together, and squabble in their exhaustion, and argue over reconstruction. We saw arrogant city leaders, and we saw communities fight for survival. And we saw creative and temporary solutions: fields of wildflowers, shipping container shops and bars, pianos and bookshelves and pictures of loved ones in empty lots. We saw friends get married, have babies, leave the city forever, or stay — not because they had no choice, but because they chose this place in this time.

For some people want to be at the heart of things, to participate in what is to come. And back then, in that time of earthquakes, Christchurch was reconsidered, restarted, rebuilt, renewed. It could have been the death of the city. It was the birth of a new city. For a city is the crystallisation of a culture and its values at a point in time. Christchurch was the early twentieth cetury frozen in brick and stone facades. And the culture had outgrown the city, and the city had to change.  And your mother and I were part of that change.

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