Christchurch, Heart and Soul

When I began writing “I am not Joe Donovan,” Christchurch city was broken. The 2nd large earthquake in 6 months had wrecked the havoc we all had so smugly avoided the first time round.  In the first few years post quake, my neighbouring suburbs burst into unexpected commercial activity while the city centre stood ghost-like in it’s agony. Eventually the bulldozers moved in and block after block of the CBC was razed. Throughout it all, I wrote, and as I read my almost-completed final edit, I see I’ve written about the things that were happening around me. “I am not Joe Donovan” is full of windswept vistas, dust, emptiness and the loss of hope. I am pleased to report that in the same way that Elias, Saracia, Aki and Scout emerged from the tunnels to face the Monolith, I too have completed the journey. On Friday last week I returned to the city centre. It was full of big, blustering buildings announcing to the world, that a commercial future here was never in dispute. I got lost amongst the metallic cladding and jaunty angles then ahhhh, Ballantynes appeared at the end of the street and I knew where I was. There is a lot to admire in the new Christchurch. It has many new ways of doing old things, but it is strange to walk once more where buildings block the view of the hills and tall shadows pattern the footpath.  It is even more strange that most of these are selling clothing and food. I longed to discover a little,DSCN1062 dark alley full of bookshops and sellers of second-hand goods, but perhaps I am leaping ahead of myself. For now, we have the architecture of the age and memorials that mean something to anyone who was here. And on the tall desk on the other side of my office, I have a book written, I thought, to keep me from looking outside. I didn’t realize how easy I am to fool.



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