Monday, April 18, 2011
One step forward, two steps back.
Yesterday was a beautiful day in Wellington. We enjoyed a nice brunch on the waterfront, took a walk to take some photographs along the bay and enjoyed the glorious sunshine. Little did we know that the Cantabrians were again reeling from a horrendous aftershock. It seems you really can never let your guard down in New Zealand.
Needless to say, last night I repacked the emergency bag, checked batteries, assessed the water and portable food situation and make sure coats and shoes were waiting by the front door. I have packed all the things I wish I had with me in Christchurch and have planned today to mail our irreplaceable photographs back to the States. Unfortunately, that means back to either North Carolina (tornadoes) or Florida (hurricane season approaching). The earth seems really angry right now.
It has been almost two months since the big earthquake and I have been able to spend some time with a few fellow survivors that are here in Wellington, most work at the Embassy. We talk about where we were, how we got to the Antarctic Center and how we are coping now. They are not all coping well. Some still jump when they hear loud noises. We all feel tremors when there is a quake on the North Island, we dream about earthquakes and some unlucky ones have physical manifestations of the stress. I spoke to one woman who said she sometimes just sits and cries. I understand.
One revelation that some of us shared is how insignificant we are. Not to our families, of course, but in general. We are ants in a massive anthill. We are all refocused on what really and truly matters. Personally, I unfriended a boatload of Facebook friends. I have friends on there that I've never even met but are a distant relative or the mom of one of Ewan's soccer buddies from South Dakota that I don't remember but didn't want to be rude to by not friending. Well. I don't really have time for them anymore. I have real friends to love and talk to.
In today's newspaper there was a story about a Christchurch woman who tried to kill herself and her two children by gassing them in the car. All survived. Can you imagine the grief that led her to that? If you would have asked me two months ago, I would have said no. The constant vigilance is exhausting. Just leaving the house to take a child to school is an ordeal. I need my cellphone (fully charged), flashlight, pocket knife, matches, candles, water, granola bars, sturdy shoes, warm clothes, rain coat, passport, external hard drive for laptop ( All of the things we took to Christchurch two months ago are still in the hotel there including Adrian's computer with 1000s of photos and documents on it), cash (ATMs will not work in a quake), first aid kit, etc. The list can go on forever. When you run from your house or work or wherever, you leave with what you have on your back or what you can manage to grab on your way out. You may never be allowed into your house again. I regret bringing so much stuff with me.
Perhaps most disappointing was the lack of support I felt from the medical community. You really are on your own sometimes. Nobody is going to hold your hand and make sure you are ok. Nobody is going to make appointments for you when you are trying to get through a day without having a panic attack and nobody, I mean nobody who wasn't in the same situation, is going to understand why you just aren't over it yet or why you absolutely cannot go to a restaurant downtown.
How can you get over it when you have 17 more major and minor quakes and aftershocks within a 48 hour period (http://www.geonet.co.nz/) ? I dunno but it really makes my latest attempt at weight loss and healthy lifestyle a bit insignificant. There was something strangely comforting about spaghetti for breakfast today.