Four years ago my home town was hit by a massive 7.3 earthquake. Unbelievably no-one was killed. But the city was damaged.

It was a massive shock. I was woken from a deep sleep with no idea what the hell was happening. The actual quake lasted 30 seconds and I think it took all of that for me to register it was an earthquake. All my energy was concentrating on staying in bed when the house was trying to throw me out.

I remember the noise. It was incredibly loud. It was the earth moving, rumbling and roaring. The house being twisted in all directions. And furniture being flung over. China and glass smashing.

Afterwards silence.

That was almost worst. I could not hear any other people. I was so scared for them. But like me they were just dazed. I was scared. The kids were not.

But it didn’t stop. Aftershocks kept coming. We had no power. The floors were covered in broken glass and china. It was dark. I was cold.

Andrew and I sat huddled together under the door frame in the downstairs hall, away from glass windows and broken glass. The kids sat in the car listening to the radio.

And slowly the day dawned and we realised how lucky we were.

Four years. Who knows how many aftershocks. And of course the deadly 22 February quake which killed 170 people and really did destroy the city.

Four years of living in a house which noticeably drops downhill, where spilled drinks leave juice rivers across the lounge, where the water drains off the kitchen bench into the rubbish bin, where doors don’t open or shut, and where they have been planed allow the cold winter air to course around the house. Four years of a giant crack in the lawn and under the house, of cracks in the foundation slab which makes the house feel cold and damp.

Four years of waiting for our house to be rebuilt. Four years of extra car repairs as the fine liquefaction dust stuck in the driveway shingle causes havoc with all things mechanical. Four years of roadworks, road cones, hi vis, bureaucracy.

Four years of not sleeping, of being so tired most of the time, of feeling like a moaning minnie.

Four years of being alive. A survivor. Of realising that actually possessions don’t matter, but people do.

There is no point wondering what if. This is my life now. I have to live it as best I can.

Christchurch. My home town.

Cover photo – the shops at the corner of my street, less than 100 metres from my house.


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