February 22: three years on

As I write this (or start it at least) I’m sitting in Dunedin in the garden by Knox Church just off George Street. I’m killing time before I meet Chris and Lucas at a local restaurant for b-day celebrations for my buddy Steve (happy 40th you whippersnapper you). I’m alone and have just been reading some February 22nd earthquake commemoration stuff.

I am, as the people of the interweb (My people I suppose) say, feeling a great many of the feels.

For those of you just joining me: it’s been three years since the big quake that killed 185 people and destroyed vast swaths of Christchurch. I continue to have very complex feelings about this: all of us from Chch fit somewhere within what I figure are concentric circles of guilt and pain. Those of us who lost almost nothing feel guilty about those who lost homes who feel guilty about those who got hurt who feel guilty about who lost loved ones who feel guilty about surviving. I’ve felt all this for three years but this year I feel something new, something I’m not sure I expected.

Background time: I’m a Montrealer. Montreal is a messy, confused place. It has bits about it that I hate, it has bits that are unjust, bits about it that are amazing and stunning and wonderful. If you ask me where I’m from my answer is always Montrealer first, with Canadian and Québécois tied for a distant second. I’m not just from there, I am of there.

So the absolute longing for Christchurch I am feeling today comes as a total surprise; if I were to put a name to it I’d have to call it homesickness. The rage I feel when politicians and developers lie about what’s happening to my friends who are still there still amazes me. The heartbreak I feel when someone else gets screwed by a landlord or CERA or the EQC or some insurance company is stunning.

I love Dunedin, it’s my home for now and there is much to like about it. But it would appear, to my utter amazement, that Montreal AND Christchurch now compete for my heart.

Kia Kaha #eqnz whānau. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

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